American History: the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle for social justice during the 1950s through the 1960s. It was for African American people to gain equal rights in the United States. Ever since the Civil War, slavery has been abolished but it doesn’t mean that discrimination against African Americans was over. African Americans had continued to go through the oppression of effects of racism. Majority of this oppression was occuring in the South, and by the middle of the 20th century, black people had more than enough violence and prejudice against them. African Americans along with many white Americans began to fight together to win equality which lasted over twenty years.
This movement was very significant in the United States history. This movement was a correction for the older American ways of rights, it gave many opportunities to the African American community. Citizens of America before the 1950s had lived in a world where human rights were not executed for every skin color. After slavery was abolished, it has been a dream for African Americans to live with the same privileges as the white Americans. It is inequitable that African Americans with decades of oppression can not be given a chance to drink from the same water fountain as the whites. White Americans have been participating in the slave trade for 300 years without feeling guilt. It was the knowledge and ignorance of trade that made white people think little of blacks. Racism began to intensify even more after the freedom the African Americans received. Black people were not allowed to sit at the front of the bus, have the same education as whites, as they also did not have the right to vote as an American citizen.
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The action began in the late 1940s when President Harry Truman issued the Executive Order 9981. The executive order was issued on July 26, 1948, it was to abolish discrimination on race, religion or national origin. It was on May 17, 1954 when the Brown v. Board of Education cases were determined and decided by the Supreme Court, that effectively ended racial segregation in public schools. However, many school remained segregated. This was a major step for the African American community in the Civil Rights movement. The famous case of Linda Brown, where she was denied entrance to an all white elementary school. Where in Oliver Brown’s lawsuit, he claims that schools for black children and schools for white children were not equal, where the segregation had violated the supposed equal protection clause. A unanimous verdict of against the school segregation the following year had impacted the Civil Rights Movement.
During the Civil Rights Movement there were many important figures. A figure that sparks a lot of controversy during the movement was Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks became controversial when she refused to give up her seat of the bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, with her arrest it had sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott by 17,000 African American citizens. The Supreme Court was declining and ruling revenues was forced by the city to desegregate its busses a year later. Because of Rosa Parks act against segregation she became an icon, but because of her resistance it became a natural extension for longing commitment to activism. She had started boycotts and became an active member of the NAACP. The Montgomery Bus Boycotts had contribute to the Civil Rights Movement, having segregation on public buses is unconstitutional, but even with the ruling of having no segregation on busses, many cities continue to discriminate and violate the integrating public bus policies.
The most well-known figure during the Civil Rights Movement was Martin Luther King Jr., he was a pastor, activist, humanitarian and leader of the Civil Rights Movement. MLK Jr. was best known for his nonviolent ways of activism, using Christian beliefs in his campaign and boycotts. He had sought for equality and human rights for African Americans. King wanted to achieve what he and many citizens sought through peaceful protests.
Martin Luther King Jr. was the driving force behind the major events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. Kings support on these small movements helped bring about landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights act and the Voting Rights act. He was such an impactful figure to the Civil Rights Movement that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
An iconic line that was said by Martin Luther King Jr. was “I Have a Dream”. In 1963 King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement organized an impactful march for equal rights in Washington D.C., there was a massive crowd of over 200,000 people who participated in the march. This march was a protest against racial discrimination in the workforce and schools. The protest demanded minimum wage for all workers, as it was the largest gathering in Washington D.C.’s history
In this massive march, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech that was capable of punching his points with anaphoras, while citing meaningful and powerful sources from the U.S. Constitution and the Bible. This speech marked him as a master orator. Because of the speech and the march, the citizens of America had began to put increasing pressure on the presidential administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. The movement was encouraging the president to push the civil rights laws to pass through Congress, to become recognized on a national level.
Through long hardships and protest Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2nd. It is a law that prevented the employment discrimination that was caused by race, color, sex, religion or national origin. The Act establishes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the prevention of workplace discrimination.
The Civil Rights act was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, it would not have been accomplished without the strategic marches, protest and demonstrations aimed mostly toward the advancing cause of racial and economic justice. The Civil Rights Act had fundamentally help transform American democracy. Slowly African Americans were able to go to the same schools and receive the same education as the whites. African American men could get minimum wage jobs, their community is slowly prospering. Even though the Civil Rights Act was passed, discrimination was still at large, though black people got the same rights as the white people racism still affected the way black people live.
Despite the fact that the Civil Rights Act was passed, there were still marches and protest occurring such as the Selma to Montgomery march. It was was a part of a series of civil rights protest that happened in 1965 in Alabama, which was a Southern state with a deep entrenched racist policies. In March of 1965, it has been made an effort to register black voters in the South. There were protesters marching the 54-mile route from Selma to the capital of Montgomery. The marches were confronted with deadly violence from white vigilante groups and local authorities. This historic march, where Martin Luther King Jr. also participated in had finally achieved their goal of walking for three days to reach Montgomery, it raised awareness of the struggles black voters faced and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.
Finally on August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. It was to prevent the use of literacy test as a voting requirement, as it allowed federal examiners to go over voter qualifications, as well as having federal observers monitoring polling places. Although the Voting Rights Act was passed, the local and state enforcements of the law was weak and most of the time ignored the Act, this mainly occurs in the South and in areas where the population of blacks were high which threatened the political status quo. Even though there were unfortunate events in the South, the Act gave African American voters the legal means to challenge the voting restrictions which immensely improved voting turnouts.
Nearing the end of the Civil Rights Movement, President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on April 11th, which is also known as the Fair Housing Act. The Act prohibited the discrimination about the sale, rental and financing of housing that is based on race, religion, sex or national origin. It was intended to follow up the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was quickly passed by the House of Representatives in the says after Martin Luther King Jr, was assassinated. Where the Fair Housing Act stands as the last great legislative achievement of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Movement was a vital part in the American history. It was necessary as it deeply affected the American society. There were important achievements brought out of the movement which was the civil rights laws that were passed by Congress. These laws ensured the constitutional rights for African Americans and other minorities, it affected how people live today. As it also broke the pattern of public facilities being segregated by race, finally letting everyone share a public place and also slowly taking away the discrimination against race,color, sex and national origin.