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THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
• The Civil Rights Movement can be defined as the effort by African-Americans and other minorities to have the same legal rights and social equality as white Americans. • The Civil Rights movement didn’t start in the ‘ 60’s, but that was the decade that saw some of its most notable gains. • THOUGHT QUESTION: What are some events from previous decades that were part of the struggle for black equality?
NAACP • The N. A. A. C. P. (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was one of the most active groups during this time. It primarily used the court system to gain equality. • For example, it had been involved in the Brown Vs. Board of Education case
M. L. K. • Martin Luther King Jr. became the most well-known civil rights leader of the period • King was a minister from Atlanta who was active in the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). Black churches played a large role in leading the fight for equality. • King had initially risen to prominence for his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. • He followed the practice of nonviolent resistance that had been used so effectively by Mahatma Gandhi against the British in India. • Protesters were not to react with violence even if insulted, spit upon, or beaten.
THOUGHT QUESTION Martin Luther King’s non-violent techniques proved to be very effective in aiding the cause of Civil Rights. Why do you think this was so?
FORMS OF PROTEST • All forms of protest during the Civil Rights Movement were designed to draw attention to the cause and to gain sympathy for the protesters, especially from Northerners who didn’t necessarily understand what life was like in the South. • Demonstrators hoped to get lots of television coverage of white authorities using violent methods to handle non-violent protesters. The more footage of peaceful activists being yelled at, spit upon, beaten, attacked with dogs, or sprayed with fire hoses, the more white Americans would be shocked and pressure law makers to make changes.
1960 -Sit-ins • Started when four college students in Greensboro, N. C. sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter at a Woolworths department store • Black were allowed to shop at the store, but not eat at the lunch counter • The “Sit-in” idea caught on and quickly spread across the south • People would sit down and politely ask for service at segregated locations. • When arrested, they would go peacefully, and others would come and take their place. – The jails could get full really quickly! • S. N. C. C. (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) was founded at this time. • This student organization was involved in many of the biggest events and protests of the decade • It was also one of the main organizations involved in trying to register black voters • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=ne. Dpu. JVc 4 Ko 0 -1: 30, 8: 00 -10: 35 or 22: 00
1961 - Freedom Rides • Blacks and whites rode together across state lines to try to desegregate interstate travel (Greyhound, for example) • Participants often faced violent backlash in the communities they went through • Federal troops ultimately had to protect them, and the Interstate Commerce Commission was forced to enforce desegregation • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=6 KW 05 Kdah. PM
1963 - March on Washington • Its full name was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The event was meant to draw attention to the political and social challenges faced by black Americans and to gain wider support • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech as a crowd of 200, 000 gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. • The March convinced many whites to be more active in supporting the movement and encouraged them to speak out more against racism. • It also helped many blacks to see the power and effectiveness of nonviolent protest • The march played a big role in building the levels of white political support that eventually helped get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.
1963 - Mississippi Freedom Summer This was a voter education and registration project in arguably the most racist state in the South. Many Southern states (Mississippi in particular) went out of their way to make it difficult for blacks to vote White northern college students volunteered to run practice elections in preparation for the Presidential election of 1964. Getting black voters registered was a huge challenge. Voting obstacles included literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll taxes, intimidation, and arbitrarily changing the hours of operation for voter registration offices.
During Freedom Summer, three civil rights workers (2 white, one black) were murdered by members of the KKK that even included local police. The FBI investigated the case and eventually brought several of the perpetrators to justice The verdict was seen as a major civil rights victory since no one in Mississippi had ever before been convicted for actions taken against a civil rights worker.
• This event followed the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was killed by Alabama state troopers as he attempted to prevent them from beating his mother and grandfather during an earlier march. • In order to diffuse the anger in the black community, and to draw attention to the cause of voting rights, King and other leaders organized a march from Selma to the capital in Montgomery • Marchers were beaten and gassed by local authorities (while the TV cameras were rolling), causing a public outcry • The success of this march helped get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed later that year. • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=n. QT 7 S 8 fuz. Gc&nohtml 5=False Bridge 19: 20 -25: 01 Jimmy Webb vs. Deputy Crocker 36: 2738: 33
Malcolm X • Militant spokesman for the Black Muslims (Nation of Islam) • Malcolm advocated change “by any means necessary” (believed non-violence was ineffective, and was very critical of King) • He was a very charismatic, to-the-point speaker who had a gift for saying out loud what many blacks had been thinking privately for years. • The Nation of Islam believed in creating a separate black state within the U. S. • They advocated strong communities, self-discipline, and self-reliance. • https: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=g. RSg. U TWff. MQ&list=PLB 64 C 1 ABEE 3 B 5 C 33 F
• Malcolm also initially believed in complete segregation of blacks and whites (saw whites as “blue -eyed devils” who had exploited blacks for centuries), but began to change his views after his hajj to Mecca. • He was assassinated by members within the Nation who thought he had betrayed their cause
Stokely Carmichael A major activist involved with both SNCC and the Black Panthers Advocate of “Black Power” (which emphasized black nationalism, racial pride, economic independence, and reconnecting with African culture and heritage) - “It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations. ” Thought violence was an acceptable way to make changes, if that’s what it took (meet violence with violence). Was tired of attending funerals of friends who had died practicing non-violence When the 2 white civil rights workers were murdered during Freedom Summer in 1963, there was a strong public outcry over their deaths, leading Carmichael to make the following comment: - “What you want is the nation to be upset when anybody is killed…It’s almost like, for this to be recognized, a white person must be killed. Well, what does that say? ” • What was Carmichael’s main point?
George Wallace • Segregationist governor of Alabama who became one of the country's leading figures against the civil rights movement. • Notable Quote: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever”. • Stood in the doorway to prevent two black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama, until the National Guard intervened. (As seen in Forest Gump) • Martin Luther King described him as "perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today. " • Wallace became a popular figure in the South, and even made a strong 3 rd-Party bid for the presidency • He renounced his racist ways after surviving an assassination attempt that paralyzed him from the waist down.
MAJOR SUCCESSES OF THE MOVEMENT • Civil Rights Act of 1964 - Prohibited segregation in public places, reinforced school desegregation, and banned job discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. • Voting Rights Act of 1965 - Gave the federal government authority over voter registration • 23 rd Am. - D. C. residents could vote in national elections • 24 th Am. - Banned poll taxes • Increased numbers of African-American attending college, owning businesses, and being elected to public office.
REMAINING ISSUES • Although the nation had addressed many legal barriers to black equality in the south, there was still a lot of social prejudice and institutional racism throughout the rest of the nation (in areas like housing and jobs). • 1/3 of blacks also continued to live below the poverty line • The SCLC attempted to lead a Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, but momentum fizzled
• Urban riots broke out in several cities during the 60’s (including Watts in Los Angeles and Detroit, MI). • Riots were especially bad after Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. • Pres. Johnson appointed the Kerner Commission to investigate the root cause of the riots. Its report said that white racism was largely to blame and warned “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white-separate and unequal”
• Many whites (including Pres. Johnson) were perplexed. They felt they had done their part, and didn’t understand what motivated the violent behavior. The violence of the late ‘ 60’s did a lot to hurt the momentum of the movement, and led to white backlash in many communities.
Rev. Ralph Abernathy of the SCLC wrote: • “When I took over from Martin, I did so after the civil rights movement had peaked and the SCLC had already begun to decline influence…Through our efforts and those of others, legal segregation in most areas of public life had been eliminated…When we tried to change our focus and attack economic injustice, we lost many of our former supporters…After a decade of fighting for racial justice, many people, black and white, were weary of the struggle and were ready to give up, to lay down their swords and shields”
• White backlash in the 1970’s resulted not only from race riots, but also by busing black kids to white schools, and promoting affirmative action (favoring minority job candidates over white ones in hiring to try to compensate for discrimination in the past) • The legal battles were winding down, but the challenges of institutional racism and the need for greater understanding still remain 50 years later
THOUGHT QUESTIONS • What insights did you gain from taking the Privilege Quiz? • What are somee challenges and areas of racial inequality that still persist in America today? • A 2009 Urban League report said that blacks remain twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be imprisoned compared with whites. • What do you think are the biggest barriers to harmony between different races in our country? • What are some other minority groups that face discrimination? How do their situations compare to African-Americans? • What can be done to overcome these issues? – – a. b. c. d. Among your friends? Within your family? Within the Charleston community? At the state/federal level? • What are some questions you have about African American life or black culture that you would appreciate some insight on?