The Civil Right Movement Essay Research Paper

The Civil Right Movement Essay, Research Paper

The United States Civil Rights Movement was about black Americans trying gain racial equality and to achieve full citizenship rights, this was a social, political, and legal struggle for them. The Civil Rights movement was a very big challenge to segregation. Many things happened during the Civil Rights Movement, individuals and organizations challenged segregation and discrimination, which included protest marches, and refusal to abide by segregation laws. The movement began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and some believe it ended with the Voting Rights act of 1965. However, I still believe it hasn t ended yet. The movement has been called many things from the Black Freedom Movement, and Negro Revolution, to the Second Reconstruction. There were three main tenets to the Civil Rights Movement, the Post Civil War Period, the Educational Period, and the Social Movement. Following the Civil War, the 13th 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed. The 13th amendment made all blacks citizens free neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. The 14th amendment protected them and 15th amendment gave them the right to vote. Sharecropping was created after slavery was outlawed. This tied the land to the sharecropper. Sharecropping made blacks farm the land that was owned by whites. 10-15% of the profit was given to the blacks the rest went to the landowner. Landowners owned the General Stores that kept the blacks in debt when they purchased something on credit. Jim Crow laws were made to enforce segregation and limit blacks’ rights. The law was created because whites feared blacks would try to take over. The Grandfather clause was included in the law. The Grandfather clause was a law that said that if you had a grandfather was able to vote in 1864 you could vote, but of course no blacks were able to vote at that time and poll taxes were also passed. The right to vote came at a price you had to pay tax. The thing was that some people could not afford the tax. Also literacy tests were required in many areas before one could vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 stoped most of these practices. Plessy v. Ferguson was landmark case the legality of racial segregation was upheld by the Supreme Court. At the time of the ruling, black and white segregation already existed in most public facilities in the American South. In the Plessy decision, the Supreme Court ruled that such segregation did not violate the 14th Amendment. This coined the phrase “Separate but equal” and that was life for almost the next sixty years. The second phase of Civil Rights Reform came about through the educational system. Public schools were funded by property taxes. Few blacks owned property, and what they owned was of little value, so schools in black neighborhoods were of lower quality than those of white . The banking industry engaged in redlining to hinder advancement of blacks. They would draw red lines on a map around black neighborhoods and not to give loans in those areas. In 1909 W.E.B. Dubois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With financial support he attempted to change discriminatory laws and practices through the legal system. In 1954 the NAACP led by attorney Thurgood Marshall challenged the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in the famous case of Brown v. the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education. Linda Brown was a young black girl who lived in the transitional part of town between school zones. However, because she was black she was bussed to the black school. Challenging that it violated the 14th amendment Marshall eventually argued the case before the Supreme Court. In very unusual fashion all 9 judges voted unanimously in favor of Brown. In his ruling, Chief Justice Earl Warren elated that the school board’s actions had been unconstitutional and immoral. He went on to say that the practice of cross-town bussing and “Separate, but equal” caused psychological damage leading black people to feel they were inferior. He would also say that desegregation should “commence with all deliberate speed.” In response to this came the Seven Manifestos a document signed by 101 national senators and representatives. In it they claimed that the Supreme Court had exceeded its judicial authority, and encouraged school districts to overthrow the decision. As a result of this by 1966 less than 1% of Southern schools had actually desegregated. In show of his opposition, in 1957 Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus defied a federal court order, and with the aid of national guardsmen, attempted to prevent the admittance of nine black students to Little Rock’s Central High school. President Dwight Eisenhower sent 1,000 federal paratroopers to enforce the desegregation and protect the “Little Rock Nine” for the entire school year. The national media event dramatized the seriousness of the desegregation for many Americans. Similar events occurred on September 30, 1962 at the University of Mississippi and in 1963 at the University of Alabama under President Kennedy’s administration. The third tenet of the Civil Rights Movement was the Social Movement. It started on December 1st 1955 with a member of the Montgomery, Alabama branch of the NAACP, Rosa Parks. A seamstress returning home from a hard day’s work, was told to give up her seat to a white person on a city bus. When refused to move, she was arrested. The city’s black community was angered by their mistreatment on city buses and overnight organized a bus boycott. The boycott was an immediate success with virtually unanimous support from the 50,000 blacks in Montgomery. The boycott lasted for more than a year ending in triumph when in November 1956 a federal court ordered the city’s buses desegregated. The discriminatory practices of Southern City buses were detailed in John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. He described the “hate stare” given to blacks, and the expected behaviors of blacks such as men not looking at whites, and addressing everyone with a title, regardless of their age. Montgomery’s new young Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which organized the bus boycott. In 1957 he became president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC wanted to compliment the NAACP legal strategy by encouraging the use of nonviolent, direct action demonstrations and boycotts. A form of these was passive sit-ins. On February 1, 1960, four black college students from North Carolina A&T University began protesting racial segregation in restaurants by sitting at “white only” lunch counters and waiting to be served. Within days sit-ins had spread throughout North Carolina, and within weeks were taking place in cities across the South. From the Sit-ins sprang the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), founded in April 1960 in Raleigh, North Carolina by Ella Baker. The organization later became intimately involved with voting registration of southern blacks. One of the earlier organizations was the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), founded in 1942 to challenge segregation in public accommodations in the North. It was a bi-racial organization composed of young liberals. The group coordinated with the SNCC to push for voter registration. The most visible example of the Social Movement was the March on Washington D.C. Led by A. Phillip Randolph, on August 28th 1963 over 200,000 men, women, and children gathered on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial to show their support of the Civil Rights Movement and pressure the Kennedy administration and Congress to pass civil rights legislation. It was there that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech. It was an inspirational speech that defined what America should be. As a result of the March, President Kennedy proposed a new civil rights law. Following his assassination , Lyndon Johnson saw to the bill’s passage. The bill prohibited segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment. It also gave the executive branch the power to enforce the act’s provisions. Later in 1968 President Johnson got a bill passed that ended discrimination in housing. After the passage of the Voting Rights act of 1965 , the Civil Rights Movements began to move away from it non-violent roots. The new head of the SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, popularized the term Black Power. Influenced by the philosophy of Malcolm X, the leader of the Nation of Islam, Black Power called for black separatism and self-sufficiency. Carmichael and his successor as chairman of SNCC, H. Rap Brown became national symbols of black radicalism. They wanted the Civil Rights Movement to be headed by “Ghetto Negroes” because they had never lived or been influenced by the white “system.” The men sought to instill pride in the black community. The Black Panther Party (BPP) picked up on Brown’s “Take your gun and go get what you want” mentality. The Black Panthers were a paramilitary organization founded in Oakland, California in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seales. Despite their reputation for an aggressive approach to civil rights, the BPP were also involved with “survival programs.” These included free health clinics; free breakfast programs, soup kitchens, ambulance patrols, voter registration assistance, and community patrols. The Black Panther Party was also the first organization to begin teaching Black history to children. Many people argue that the Civil Rights Movement ended two years later, when on April 4th 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Following his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, riots erupted in 125 U.S. cities. To many this sparked the end to the Civil Rights Movement. Others argued that it ended with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and yet others contended that it was a struggle still going on.



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