Black Civil Rights Essays

Civil rights movement is a broad term to cover all activists meetings and strikes final aim for which was to ensure equality for African American people in United States. The peak of the movement took place at the mid 40-ies to late 60-ies of XX century. The outcome was the declaration of Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

Even though, formally slavery was outlawed since the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, however white people, especially in the South resisted this change. As a result of this resistance “separate, but equal” policy designed by Jim Craw was spread among Southern States. This policy declared that separate schools, public transportation and even zones of recreation should be created based on the race of citizens. This process is known in history as segregation. Of course, African Americans were unsatisfied with this situation. Additionally there were often cases of African American murders by supremacists. All of mentioned above were reasons for creation the biggest social movement of XX century – civil rights movement.

The first major victory of civil movement was a process Brown v Board of Education of Topeka. The plaintiff side argued the segregation policy in schooling based on the story of Linda Brown, who should go a great distance every day so she can visit school. In the same time another school for white children was just few blocks away from her home. They proved that Jim Crow`s Act interfere with Constitution of the United States that declares equality in access to education between all races.

Another eye-catching event was Montgomery bus boycott that continued for over a year. At that time, the sitting places were divided into two groups – at front seats only representatives of white people can sit and the seats in the back of the public transport were meant for African Americans. Moreover, if all places in section for white people were occupied, the first raw of African Americans should move far to the back and free the place for white people. The incident that provoked the boycott, was Mrs. Rosa Park`s refusal to vacant the place as per instructions. The woman got arrested and fined for such act. However, it led to massive boycott by African American community of public transportation. The protest resulted in huge economic losses of public transportation department of Alabama State. One of the biggest activists during this boycott was Martin Luther King, Jr. In November 1956 the US Supreme Court ruled segregation in public transport as unconstitutional.

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The final push in movement for civil rights became March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. This March gathered the greatest amount of participants of peaceful demonstrations so far. One of the most inspirational speeches in the history – “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. was delivered during this demonstration. Around 250 000 people came out at National Mall with united goal to get equal access to public facilities, schools, jobs and housing. The outcome of this fact was adopting by the Congress of Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Voting Rights Act a year later.

Civil Rights act is known as a most comprehensive document that defend civil rights regardless the race of citizen. Originally it was created by John F. Kennedy however due to massive resistance; the acceptance of this bill got delayed. After all, the bill passed with results 73 to 27 in June 1964. This act was a great victory for activists of the movement. In the same time it was considered as an enormous threat to citizens in the Southern States. Series of cruel attacks on African Americans took place between 1964 and 1965, the most notorious of which is known as “Bloody Sunday”. Those were desperate attempts of southerners to preserve the old order. However such violations led into new law – Voting Rights act. This law created equal opportunities to vote and get elected. The Voting rights act was a great step not only for civil rights movement, but for democracy as well.

There is no doubt that civil rights movement was a great success and caused a significant shift of beliefs in society. Today it is already impossible to imagine different sections for people of different races in subway or bus. However there are still numerous issues arise concerning tolerance between races. Although, today it is far less dangerous than at the beginning of XX century, African Americans still suffer from psychological pressure, which resulted in bullying and abusive language. So, educating children from the earliest age of race tolerance should be a priority for appropriate institutions nowadays.

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  • The March on Washington For many Americans, the calls for racial equality and a more just society emanating from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, deeply affected their views of racial segregation and intolerance in the nation.  Since the occasion of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago, much has been written and discussed about the moment, its impact on society,...
  • Collecting and Presenting the Freedom Struggle at the Library of Congress What makes a mass social movement? How is it defined? What happened as part of the movement and why? What are its obvious features and its hidden aspects? Who are the actors, both famous and obscure? These are among the prominent questions to keep in mind when we seek to understand the historical origins, changing meanings, and the current resonance of social and cultural...
  • Music in the Civil Rights Movement African American spirituals, gospel, and folk music all played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Singers and musicians collaborated with ethnomusicologists and song collectors to disseminate songs to activists, both at large meetings and through publications. They sang these songs for multiple purposes: to motivate them through long marches, for psychological strength against harassment and brutality, and sometimes to simply pass the...
  • Nonviolent Philosophy and Self Defense The success of the movement for African American civil rights across the South in the 1960s has largely been credited to activists who adopted the strategy of nonviolent protest. Leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Lawson, and John Lewis believed wholeheartedly in this philosophy as a way of life, and studied how it had been used successfully by Mahatma Gandhi to protest...
  • School Segregation and Integration The massive effort to desegregate public schools across the United States was a major goal of the Civil Rights Movement. Since the 1930s, lawyers from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had strategized to bring local lawsuits to court, arguing that separate was not equal and that every child, regardless of race, deserved a first-class education. These lawsuits were combined...
  • The Murder of Emmett Till The murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 brought nationwide attention to the racial violence and injustice prevalent in Mississippi. While visiting his relatives in Mississippi, Till went to the Bryant store with his cousins, and may have whistled at Carolyn Bryant. Her husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, kidnapped and brutally murdered Till, dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River. The newspaper...
  • Voting Rights When Reconstruction ended in 1877, states across the South implemented new laws to restrict the voting rights of African Americans. These included onerous requirements of owning property, paying poll taxes, and passing literacy or civics exams. Many African Americans who attempted to vote were also threatened physically or feared losing their jobs. One of the major goals of the Civil Rights Movement was to...
  • Women in the Civil Rights Movement Many women played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, from leading local civil rights organizations to serving as lawyers on school segregation lawsuits. Their efforts to lead the movement were often overshadowed by men, who still get more attention and credit for its successes in popular historical narratives and commemorations. Many women experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the movement and later...
  • Youth in the Civil Rights Movement At its height in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement drew children, teenagers, and young adults into a maelstrom of meetings, marches, violence, and in some cases, imprisonment. Why did so many young people decide to become activists for social justice? Joyce Ladner answers this question in her interview with the Civil Rights History Project, pointing to the strong support of her elders in...

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