ACTIVIST MATTIE B. MEYERS &

THE CIVIL RIGHTS FIGHT IN FRESNO

Educator and leader of the Fresno NAACP, Mattie B. Meyers was a prominent activist for educational and housing equality in the 1960s. She spoke at hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives, and was responsible for bringing Martin Luther King, Jr. to Fresno in June 1964. This lesson will help students understand her fight to improve educational opportunities for Fresno’s African American community. She advocated for an end de facto segregation in Southwest Fresno and participated in integration busing debates. Students will be able to define redlining and describe how it fostered educational and economic disparities then and now. Students will connect to the people who fought for equal rights in the central San Joaquin Valley to the national Civil Rights Movement, including the activities of Martin Luther King Jr., Brown v. Board of Education, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

City of Fresno Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Map, December 7, 1936. T-RACES, University of Maryland.

LESSON AND SOURCES BY GROUP

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FINAL Activist Mattie B. Meyers & the Ci

LESSON PLAN - Activist Mattie B. Meyers & the Civil Rights Fight in Fresno 

Fresno County Historical Society.

GROUP 1: Brown v. Board of Education and Educational Inequality in Fresno

Hearing pg 1.jpg

Statement of Mrs. Mattie B. Meyers, First Vice President, Central Area NAACP, pg 4-11. “Racial Discrimination in Federally Assisted Education Programs.” Hearing before the Select SubCommittee on Education of the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives Eighty-Eighth Congress, First Session on H.R. 7771. Los Angeles, California, August 12, 1963. Google Books.

Louis Harris. “School Segregation Laws Are Condemned.” The Fresno Bee, June 18, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Link

Carmen George. “Mattie Meyers: Civil Rights Activist and Educator Addressed Segregation in Fresno.” The Fresno Bee, August 22, 2017.

Link

History.com Editors. “Brown v. Board of Education.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 27, 2009. Updated April 4, 2020.

Link

Alice Daniel. "Civil Rights Leader Mattie Meyers: Son Recalls Her Legacy." Valley Public Radio, January 23, 2019. (Radio Interview 11:56)

GROUP 2: Debates over Integration Busing in Fresno Schools

Richard Hall. "900 Attend Bullard Meeting; Most Rap Forced Busing Plans." The Fresno Bee, January 29, 1970. Newspapers.com.

“Krebs and Busing.” [likely from The Fresno Bee, circa 1970]. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Records, Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno.

Link

“School Desegregation: The Busing Debate.” Law Library - American Law and Legal Information Encyclopedia.

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Nellie Bowles. “Kamala Harris and Classmates Were Bused Across Berkeley. The Experience Changed Them.” The New York Times, July 1, 2019.

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Matthew Delmont. “There’s a Generational Shift in the Debate Over Busing.” The Atlantic, July 1, 2019.

GROUP 3: De Facto Segregation in Fresno and the Fight for Fair Housing

Fresno redlining map, 1936 with director

City of Fresno Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Map, December 7, 1936. T-RACES, University of Maryland.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Marches to Ratcliffe Stadium for Fair Housing. The Fresno Bee Editorial Library. June 4, 1964. Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

Link

Amy E. Hillier. "Redlining and the Homeowners' Loan Corporation."Journal of Urban History, Volume 29, Issue 4, 2003, pages 394-420. 

Curt Tuck. “Rev. King Stresses Rights Fight Urgency.” The Fresno Bee, June 2, 1964. Newspapers.com.

Fair Housing Act - Title VIII of the 196

Fair Housing Act Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. The United States Department of Justice.

Florence Atwater Oral History - Housing Artist Name
00:00 / 01:51

Florence Atwater Oral History clip, 2 minutes. 

Ethnic Oral History Project, 1977-1978, Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

Florence Atwater Summary.jpg

Florence Atwater Oral History Summary and Transcript

Ethnic Oral History Project, 1977-1978, Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

Link

Robert Longley. "What Is De Facto Segregation? Definition and Current Examples." ThoughtCo.com, July 23, 2019.

GROUP 4: The Legacy of Education and Housing Discrimination in Fresno

Fresno Bee Editorial Board. “City Council Should Face Up To Deterioration in East, Southeast.” The Fresno Bee, November 7, 1973. Newspapers.com.

Link

Sarah Garland. "Was 'Brown v. Board' a Failure?" The Atlantic, December 5, 2012.

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Dianna Aguilera. “Rare Maps Reveal Fresno’s Overlooked History of Segregation.” Valley Public Radio News, October 27, 2015.

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Jesse Meisenhelter. “How 1930s Discrimination Shaped Inequality in Today’s Cities.” Ncrc.org. March 27, 2018.

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Reis Thebault. "Fresno's Mason-Dixon Line." The Atlantic, August 20, 2018.

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Margaret Katcher. “A Mother’s Zip Code Could Signal Whether Her Baby Will Be Born Too Early.” The Atlantic, August 23, 2018.

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Annette Breazell-Greathouse. "Growing Up Black in Fresno" Fresno Community Alliance, June 1, 2020.

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Manuela Tobias. "How Fresno is confronting its history of racism." CalMatters.org, June 17, 2020.

EXTENSION ACTIVITY - HOUSING DISCRIMINATION ORAL HISTORIES

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Florence Atwater Oral History - Housing Artist Name
00:00 / 01:51

Florence Atwater Oral History clip, 2 minutes. 

Ethnic Oral History Project, 1977-1978, Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

Florence Atwater Summary.jpg

Florence Atwater Oral History Summary and Transcript

Ethnic Oral History Project, 1977-1978, Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

Link

Nathaniel Colley Oral History Clip, 1960. Desegregation in Housing - 14:00, 30:00. California State University, Sacramento, California Revealed.org.

Link

William Becker Oral History Clip, 1965. The Civil Rights Crisis in California - 9:00. California State University, Sacramento, California Revealed.org.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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Link

Gillian B. White. "Fresno's Ugly Divide" Article Series. The Atlantic, August 25, 2018.

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Civil Rights: Then and Now Collection. PBS Learning Media.org

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Busing & Beyond: School Desegregation in Boston Primary Source Set. Digital Public Library of America.

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A Time For Justice Teachers Guide. Teaching Tolerance - Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Melinda D. Anderson. "A Better Way to Teach the Civil Rights Movement." Edutopia.org, September 19, 2018.

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Places and People of the Civil Rights Movement Lesson Plan. National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Civil Rights Toolkit. TeachingAmericanHistory.org

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How the Civil Rights Movement Embodied a Time of Change Lesson Plan. PBS NewsHour.

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National Archives Primary Sources relating to Brown v Board of Education. PBS Learning Media.org.

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The Civil Rights Movement Exhibition. Calisphere, University of California, 2005.

Fresno County Historical Society 

Located inside Kearney Park 
7160 West Kearney Boulevard 
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Kearney Mansion Museum & Gallery

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