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The African-American Civil Rights Movement

TheAfrican-American Civil Rights Movement


Sincethe early settlement years of the Europeans in Northern America, thewhite people exploited and subjugated the Blacks. despite this, theCivil War eventually promoted slavery abolition but the inconsideratewhite supremacy system still lived on. The African American peoplefound in the south along with others in close border states, in theinitial years of the 20thcentury could not socialize with white Americans in publicinstitutions and accommodations due to prohibition. Theseinstitutions included schools, rest rooms, movie theatres,restaurants, hospitals, concert halls, beaches and parks, lunchcounters, and libraries among others. The situation was severe suchthat other recreation sites equated the presence of Black Americansto dogs. The form of racial bias denied the Southern blacks fromacquiring decent schools, jobs, and citizenship rights like voting.The White American aggression and extortion remains persistedthroughout this time. Even though the blacks beyond the south enjoyedlegal rights, they still experienced extensive discrimination, aswell as, school and housing segregation. In this paper, I will try toidentify the African American Civil Rights Movement’s main events,which have shaped the United States of America today.


TheAfrican American Civil Rights Movement historically occurred in theyears between the 1950s and 1960s in an effort to eradicatesegregation to benefit from equal rights for all. During this time,individuals rallied for legal, cultural, social, and politicalmodifications that prohibited segregation and discriminationintroduced by the Jim Crow laws in Southern America1.The policies applauded African American segregation making it hardfor them to access any institution or accommodation site. Therefore,the Civil Rights Movements proved the unjustly nature ofdiscrimination giving voice to individuals who undergo oppressionglobally. Everybody, irrespective of race, struggled to ensure thefair treatment of the blacks in the country. The movement’s effortsensured that they ended seclusion both legally and publiclyredesigning America’s social system. The African Americans managedto enjoy the luxury of college indicating that activists will nolonger tolerate it in the United States of America.

CivilRights Movement Events

TheUnited States of America’s whites for the longest time supportedthe segregation of blacks and whites as indicated in the Plessy vs.Ferguson 1896 case2.the case background indicated that Homer Plessy, an African Americanpassage refused to board and sit on the Jim Crow section of thetrain, breaching a Louisiana law. The Supreme Court ruled inFerguson’s favor establishing a policy that upheld separate butequivalent room for blacks3.The law continued throughout the American history catching theattention of the Civil Rights Movement advocates. These activistsorganized at both the common and local levels demanding for theconclusion of racial seclusion in schools risking not just their jobpositions but even their lives. All through this period, multipleattempts were being made towards ending the lives of some of theCivil Rights Movement organizers as churches and homes were scorched.These people persisted with their cause that insisted on equalityamong whites and blacks in schools, instead of racial howbeit,multiple African Americans saw it necessary to remain in their ownschools.

Inthe year 1950, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of NAACP(National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) that wasdirected by Thurgood Marshall saw it necessary to fight racialisolation via the court houses4.The organization’s determinations steered the landmark ruling in1954 following the case of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka5. The case’s plaintiff were the elementary school negro childrenliving in Topeka who asked for desegregation in schools despite theBoard of Education wanting isolation. The three judges overseeing thecase discovered that public education separation negativelyinfluences African American Children despite the schools havingsubstantially similar elements including transportation, teacherqualifications, buildings, and curricula as white schools. The caseaffirmed that being separate but having equal access to schoolresources has no room in America. Multiple researchers identify thiscase as the foundation of amendment in the general history of Americathat spiraled into the 1960 years.

In1955 the month of December, popular protesters in Montgomery, Alabamawho included Rosa Parks and E.D Nixon, NAACP members, incited anextensive bus and White American-based business boycott by theblacks6.The shunning commenced when Parks was arrested because of a whiteAmerican bus driver because she refused to adhere to regulations thatmade it essential for backs to sit at the back of a bus if whitesfailed to find available seats7.The movement captured the attention of Reverend Martin Luther KingJr. positioning him as a leader. Since the supreme court ruled in thefavor of blacks in Montgomery, Alabama, the Montgomery ImprovementAssociation took the initiative to advice the black citizens on theirbehavior to enjoy their honorable victory. By the year 1957, Kingformed his SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) that aimedto continue with the struggle8.It coordinated multiple programs and protests committed to theattaining civil rights for the blacks in a peaceful manner.

Additionally,the year marked two detectable events, which encouraged the civilrights activists. The first development involved the passing of the1957 Civil Rights Act by Congress since the time of Reconstruction9.The Act integrated a federal Civil Rights Commission and a CivilRights Division inside the American Department of Justice, which weremeant to inspect racial issues, recommending solutions10.It mainly associated with upholding the voting rights of AfricanAmericans, as well as, a way for Congress to demonstrate its backingof the Brown decision by the Supreme Court. The other obvious eventinvolved the reluctant decision of President Dwight D. Eisenhower todispatch state soldiers into Little Rock, Arkansas after the Arkansasgovernor tried to block nine African American students from enlistingin Central High School, an all-white school11.the president took action after Dr. King pointed out that hisdecision will make law a reality. Additionally, he recognized thatthe event was turning out to be a global embarrassment. After thispronouncement, Dr. King assured the president that many of theSouthern citizens, both black and white support his action12.

Amidstall these efforts, segregation in the social patterns stillpersisted. The Supreme Court’s verdict that cases related to Brownshould be attended to with deliberate speed provided minimal guidanceto the Southern federal courts, encouraging white desegregationantagonists to acquire delay strategies. Due to this, the civilrights activists pushed for the enactment of the 1960 Civil RightsAct, which aimed to prevent court order obstructions13.Even though this law was passed, in the year 1964, which marked 10years after the Brown case decision, only a few of the SouthernAfrican American Children managed to enrol in public schoolinginstitutions that had whites.

Further,racial justice was threatened by Southern violence and slow legalprocesses. Owing to this, the black citizens decided on taking directaction to alter the community’s racial patterns. In February 1960,the black youth used sit-in approaches at Woolworth’s lunch counterin Greensboro, North Carolina that spread across the South14.The strategy instigated the weightiest chapter of the AfricanAmerican Civil Rights Movement running for five riotous years. In May1961, the direct action took a different turn with the originallyscheduled multiracial freedom rides that would cover Washington DC tothe New Orleans15.the arrangement was meant to influence Southern administrators toobey with the Supreme Court’s recent verdict that necessitated thestopping of racial discrimination related to the interstate busstations. Consequently, violence erupted after people in Alabamabombed a bus injuring its riders. President Kennedy has to send itsfederal marshals to the scene of crime to reinstate order however,the bloodshed continued until the intervention of state troopsbrought by the governor16.Eventually, these freedom riders were non-violently arrested inJackson attracting sufficient public attention.

TheAfrican Americans recognized that President Kennedy lacked the civilrights protestor’s passion and did not use force in such matters toavoid the wrath of numerous Southern White American people includingthe politicians and police. Despite this, when George Wallace,Alabama’s Governor showed desegregation resistance of stateuniversities, President Kennedy called for the establishment offederal civil rights laws that aimed to outlaw public accommodationracial discriminations17.He also sent in federal officers to reinstate order in the Universityof Mississippi after the white students resisted the admission of ablack student into the university18.It is apparent that president Kennedy made notable progress indesegregating both public transport and schools since he believed theCivil Rights Movement will consistently advance into other years. InNovember 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson took over.He championed a solid bill and signed this bill into law in June 1964that protected against job discrimination and created the EEOC (EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission) agency19.Although the early 1970s still experienced school seclusion, theCivil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in many publicaccommodations20.

Afterthis success, civil rights supporters focused on voting rights but in1965 they were attached in Selma, Alabama21.the aggression towards citizens who participated in the Selma toMontgomery’s state capital 50-mile march received excessive airplaywith president Johnson gaining encouragement for presenting solidreforms22.In August, the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed by congressassisting the Civil Rights Movement even further because it acted asan extension of the 1964 Civil Rights Act23.The law mainly made racial seclusion illegal and removed numerousvoting barriers linked to African Americans. It inspired King,Johnson, and other defenders to see the need for tackling economicand social disparity in the society. After this, the Civil RightsMovement became more disjointed and violent but less interracialcausing riots by black Americans leading to the collapse of bodieslike SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE. Theyalso lived outside King’s principles of non-violence drying up themonetary support from whites. Later in 4 April 1968, the Civil RightsMovement suffered a big loss after King was assassinated24.


Itis problematic to assess the Civil Rights Movement in totality. Itbrought forth unforeseen policies like the affirmative actionformation, particularly in higher education and employmentadmittance. African Americans benefited from it by acquiringconfidence in organizing and effecting political change. It alsohelped them build up the black citizen percentage in themiddle-status jobs as the armed military ended prejudicedrecruitment, enhanced promotion processes, and created unifiedforces. Nonetheless, this movement failed to achieve everything theactivists yearned in the middle years of 1960. The 1970s and 80sfaced school unification that fell back as white and black studentstest score gaps widened. Generally, the blacks have less access tosocial amenities compared to whites and their neighborhoods arecharacterized by violent crimes, high school drop outs, drugaddiction, imprisonment, and family breakups among others. TheAfrican American Civil Rights Movement is still agonizing from thesetbacks caused in the later years of 1960. In the years 1965, bothpresident Johnson and King anticipated that the United States ofAmerica could have a chance to handle severe economic and socialdissimilarities using the civil rights Acts. However, when oneanalyzes the American society today, it is notable that this dreamstill is farfetched. Americans should work hard towards equality andcarry on the legacy of this movement.


(1953)Thurgood Marshall, “Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court in Brownvs. Board of Education,www.blackpast.org/1953-thrugood-marshall-argument-u-s-court-brown-v-board-education

(1963)George Wallace, “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” speech,www.blackpast.org/1963-george-wallace-segregation-now-segregation-forever

“CivilRights Act,” 88th Congress, H. R. 7152, 2 July 1964

“Don’tRide the Bus,” 2 December 1955, in Papers3: 139

“VotingRights Act,” U.S. National Archives and Records Administration,www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=100&amppage=transcript

AmericanHistory. “Sitting for Justice: Woolworth’s Lunch Counter”www.americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-2.html.

Brownv. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, (1954)

CivilRights Act of 1957 Pub. L. 85-315, 85th Congress

CivilRights Act of 1960, Pub. L. 86-449, 86th Congress

ClaudeSittion. 3000 Troops Put Down Mississippi Rioting and Sieze 200 asNegro Attends Classes Ex-Gen. Walker is Held for Insurrection, NewYork Times,https://partners.nytimes.com/library/national/race/100262race-ra.html

ExecutiveOrder 11246 (1965),http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/35th/thelaw/eo-11246.html.

FredrickDouglass on Jim Crow, 1887,https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/jim-crow-and-great-migration/resources/fredrick-douglass-jim-crow-1887

InezJessie Baskin Papers, Alabama Department of Archives and History,Montgomery, Alabama,http://www.alabamamoments.sate.al.us/sec55ps.html/

Kingto Eisenhower, 25 September 1957, in Papers4:278

Kingto Eisenhower, 9 September 1957, MLKJP-GAMK

Kingto Elder G. Hawkins, 8 March 1965, NCCP-PPPrHi

Plessyv. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)

PresidentJohnson statement, “The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr,1968”,www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/lbj-assassination/

SCLC,Press release, August 1957, in Papers4:103-106

TheAmerican Presidency Project, John Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925(1961), http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=58863

1 Fredrick Douglass on Jim Crow, 1887, https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/jim-crow-and-great-migration/resources/fredrick-douglass-jim-crow-1887

2 Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)

3 Ibid

4 (1953) Thurgood Marshall, “Argument Before the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education, www.blackpast.org/1953-thrugood-marshall-argument-u-s-court-brown-v-board-education

5 Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, (1954)

6 “Don’t Ride the Bus,” 2 December 1955, in Papers 3: 139

7 Ibid

8 SCLC, Press release, August 1957, in Papers 4:103-106

9 Civil Rights Act of 1957 Pub. L. 85-315, 85th Congress

10 Ibid

11 King to Eisenhower, 9 September 1957, MLKJP-GAMK

12 King to Eisenhower, 25 September 1957, in Papers 4:278

13 Civil Rights Act of 1960, Pub. L. 86-449, 86th Congress

14 American History. “Sitting for Justice: Woolworth’s Lunch Counter” www.americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-2.html

15 Inez Jessie Baskin Papers, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama, http://www.alabamamoments.sate.al.us/sec55ps.html/

16 The American Presidency Project, John Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 (1961), http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=58863

17 (1963) George Wallace, “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” speech, www.blackpast.org/1963-george-wallace-segregation-now-segregation-forever

18 Claude Sittion. 3000 Troops Put Down Mississippi Rioting and Sieze 200 as Negro Attends Classes Ex-Gen. Walker is Held for Insurrection, New York Times, https://partners.nytimes.com/library/national/race/100262race-ra.html

19 “Civil Rights Act,” 88th Congress, H. R. 7152, 2 July 1964

20 Ibid

21 King to Elder G. Hawkins, 8 March 1965, NCCP-PPPrHi

22 Executive Order 11246 (1965), http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/35th/thelaw/eo-11246.html.

23 “Voting Rights Act,” U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=100&amppage=transcript

24 President Johnson statement, “The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, 1968”, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/lbj-assassination/