Civil Rights Martyrs

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Are you willing to give your life for your people? These martyrs of the civil rights movement gave everything for their people. Although some may say their deaths did not have an impact on the civil rights movements. They risked their lives just so African Americans could have the rights they have today. The definition of martyr is a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs. They believe that everyone should be equal and have the same rights.

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Their deaths offset awareness to racial issues through America.

The Case of Emmett Till

Emmett Till made an extremely big impact on the civil rights movement. He was a 14-year old boy who allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant. She recently admitted to making the whole thing up while she was on her deathbed. The murder of Till was truly a devastating act that showed just how bad racism in the south had become. One major way his death brought awareness to the south is that his mom publicized that not only are racists killing innocent kids, they are torturing them. Till’s death affected many Americans. He was only 14 years old.


Reverend Bruce Klunder was a minister who gave his life during a protest against segregation in schools. Before his death, he started fundraisers for the boycotters. Klunder also spoke on civil rights issues. Klunder and Joanna ,his wife, were founding members of CORE. Congress of racial equality (CORE) was founded in 1942, it was a non-violent association that wanted all people to have equal rights. In the early 1960s, CORE’s biggest goal was to end segregation. CORE was made up of predominantly white and middle class. Klunder was protesting against segregation in schools. The protestors went to the construction site of a new school being built in Cleveland, Ohio. Some protestors laid on the ground in front of the bulldozer and unfortunately Klunder was crushed to death. Klunder was a white man who gave his life for the rights of others. After his death, many protestors fled the streets protesting.

The deaths of James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman

In the 1964, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman we’re murdered for trying to get African Americans the right to vote. They were murdered by a member of the Ku Klux Klan. They were volunteering for CORE’s freedom summer voting registration. CORE would do sit ins and they were also apart of the freedom riders. Freedom riders were also attacked during one of their protests and some people were killed for peacefully protesting the segregation on public transportation. Chaney and Schwerner often spent their time trying to find churches to have their voter education programs. They wanted to help inform the lower class in Neshoba, Mississippi. In June 1964, Chaney and Schwerner went to Ohio to train. They were training to help African Americans vote. On June 21, 1964 Chaney got pulled over for speeding. Two white men, schwerner and Goodman were in the car with him at the time. They were arrested and released later that night never to return again. Their bodies were later found in the Earthen dam forty days later. Unfortunately, the three were shot to death. Their death made a huge impact on the civil rights movement because they were only trying to help inform people on how to vote, and they were killed in cold blood. They were big leaders during their time and they will forever remain legends.

Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers was more than just a civil rights activist. He was a leader, veteran, and a investigator. He thought fighting for our country was the right thing to until he realized he was not welcome in America. One day him and his friends went to vote and they were forced to leave. A man held a gun at them and told them they were not welcome because of the color of their skin. He went to college at Alcorn State University majoring in business and administration. In February 1954, he was the first field’s officer in the NAACP in Mississippi. He helped start the boycott against service stations that were segregated. The gas stations would allow blacks to get gas, but they were denied the use of the bathroom. Their slogan was “Don’t buy gas where you can’t use the restroom.’’ Evers did research on the death of Emmett Till to try to get justice for him. The Ku Klux Klan did not like the thought of that. He begin receiving death threats from many people. He was one of the main leaders of the civil rights movements, and he stood for all that he believed in even though it was a deadly decision. He did what was right knowing that it would come with many consequences, and he even knew that his life was on the line. Evers fought for our country and for his people. On June 12, 1963 he was shot in the back as he was getting out of his car in his driveway by a klansman, Byron De La Beckwith, who thirty years served time for Ever’s death. On june 19, Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery and more than 3,000 people attended. Thirty years later, 1994, his body was dug from his grave to receive another autopsy. Beckwith was found guilty for the death of Evers, and later he died in prison. Before they placed Evers back in his grave, they gave him another funeral for his children who were young when he passed. He made a huge impact on the civil rights era, and he was one of the many people who risked their life for what they thought was right. One of his famous quotes were “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea”.

Bloody Sunday

Jimmie Lee Jackson was a 26 year old veteran who lost his life while he was protecting his 82 year old grandfather and his mother. Jackson participated in a peaceful night protest in Marion, Alabama. As they were protesting, the city’s lights were cut off. The police and state troopers begin to beat the protestors with clubs. Many people fled to a cafe nearby and that is where Jackson was shot. James Bonard Fowler, a state trooper, started beating his grandfather and Jackson tried to cover his grandad then Fowler shot him in the stomach. Jackson died due to a infection of the gunshot wound a couple days later on February 26, 1965. June 2005, Fowler later admitted to killing jackson to the Anniston Star. He claimed he was defending himself. Fowler was convicted with first and second degree murder. Fowler also killed another African American man because he thought he was drunk driving. He had to serve 6 months in prison, but only served 5 months due to his pancreatic cancer. Jackson’s death started many marches and protests. The sunday he was killed is commonly known as Bloody Sunday because of him and the violence that occured.


In conclusion, many people gave their life for the things that they believe. It is more martyrs that made a impact on the civil rights than just those that I mentioned. They knew that they lived in a era where they could get killed for simply standing up for themselves, but they did it anyway. The Civil rights movement was a time where people put there fear behind them to get the justice they deserved.

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Civil Rights Martyrs. (2020, Apr 25). Retrieved from