Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement


The given evaluation will compare and analyze the Civil Rights Movement and the Progressive Movement. Both occurrences were highly influential in reforming and changing the US politics and social structure. Although the Civil Rights Movement was more specific in terms of purpose and differed from the Progressive Era, they both strived to improve the overall quality of life of the American people. However, the Civil Rights Movement was more effective at achieving its goal due to the straightforward nature of the objectives and the presence of strong leadership.

Goals, Leaders, Strategies, and Accomplishments

Civil Right Movement

The main purpose of the Civil Rights Movement was to end racism and discrimination against African American people in the United States. These social elements were manifested in racial segregation, such as separate schools, cafes, shops for Blacks. Even the ability to vote was limited because the right to vote and to be elected was closely linked to the educational and property qualifications (Bloom 83). However, it was difficult to vote for the poor white people, and then a decision was made stating that the descendant of voters could not lose their voting rights. Such social pressure could not but provoke protests, which increased as the standard of living and education of black people increased.

The key figure in advancing the Civil Rights Movement was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who led African Americans through all hardships and resistance. King adopted Gandhi’s non-violence approach, where he encouraged his fellow Black citizens to restrain from violence and advocate peacefully. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech became a social treasure, which still speaks for the African American communities (“Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream”). As a result, the US Supreme Court ruled to ban segregation on buses, and in 1954, the US Supreme Court banned separate schooling. When the Governor of Arkansas refused to comply with a court verdict in 1957, President Eisenhower sent the National Guard to the capital of Little Rock, which enforced the law (“Civil Rights Movement”). Therefore, these were the fundamental changes that restructured and reshaped American society.

Progressive Movement

The primary objective of the Progressive Movement was to Progressivism in the USA is a reformist movement that prevailed in the political life of America, and the middle class has become its social support. American progressivism was a response to the modernization of the American economy and society, in particular, the emergence of large industrial and railway corporations, as well as the prevalence of corruption in American politics. Subsequently, the progressive movement acquired the features of environmentalism and the movement for social justice, eliminating political corruption, ensuring social welfare, creating economic reform, and promoting moral improvement (Leonard 52). Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the leader of the movement, who was well-known for his antitrust laws and naturalism. The strategy was based on implementing a wide range of policies, which would promote progressivism and reform major industries, such as food control and railroad regulation. During Roosevelt’s term, many national parks and natural resources were preserved and protected. In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration was established to ensure food purity.

Along with the political changes in the United States, social reforms were carried out. To improve legal education, reorganized the teaching of law. The Association of American Law Schools was created, and new educational standards were introduced. The total number of educational institutions has been increased several times. Even in small towns, colleges and higher education institutions opened. Progressives have found that small medical schools are ineffective. They have achieved the enlargement of medical faculties and their state funding. The issue of quality control of food and drugs was recognized as important. Then they adopted a special law on mandatory scientific confirmation of the safety of drugs and food quality control.


It is important to note that the overall range of achievements of the Progressive Movements vaster than the Civil Rights Movement. However, the objective of the latter was more fundamental than the former one. The results of progressive movements were in the quality-of-life improvement category, whereas ending segregation was the full elimination of remnants of past inhumane practices. The civil Rights Movement was more effective at achieving its goals due to the King’s leadership and African Americans’ unity and resilience. Major political changes and social restructuring were the results of the Civil Rights Movement. Although controlling big industries and promoting moral awareness is important, these serve no purpose if a community is being oppressed by others. The effectiveness of the movement can be easily observed in the fact that the general resistance against African Americans was far stronger than in the case of progressivism. The latter had a leader in the seat of the president of the US, whereas King was a mere pastor. Changes against segregation were enforced through peaceful protests and non-violence, which makes the movement more effective.


I enjoy the fruits of these movements even today, for which I am highly grateful. However, I am convinced that the overall impact of the Civil Rights Movement is far superior to that of the progressivists. The reason is that direct and explicit form of racism and discrimination against my fellow African American citizens was eliminated and the entire American society was restricted. People became more aware of these issues and reconsidered their beliefs regarding equality and multiculturalism. The impact of the Civil Rights Movement was paramount in redefining what America stands for, which is liberty and justice.

Turning Points and Obstacles

The main turning point in the Civil Rights Movement was the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where African American woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person. This was a critical moment that catalyzed and initiated the Civil Rights Movement because the incident was highly outrageous (Riches 35). In addition, at this point, King became actively involved in advocating and leading the movement. The main obstacles were manifested in white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members, who were against African American equality and citizenship.

In the case of the Progressive Movement, the key turning point was the election of Roosevelt as the president of the United States. He, with the help of his middle-class supporters, was able to implement major changes in several industries, where nature preservation and social welfare were ensured. From this point, progressivists were able to advance their agenda and philosophy. The main obstacles were big corporate entities and monopolies, who wanted to remain in power and were against antitrust and nature protection laws.


In conclusion, both movements were highly influential, and they played major roles in changing American for the better. However, the Civil Rights Movement was more effective at achieving its goals compared to the Progressive movement because its objectives were more fundamental and straightforward. African American people wanted to end segregation and discrimination, whereas progressivists’ list of goals was large. In addition, the Civil Rights Movement had a far more superior leadership figure, who was not an official with power. King led his followers with his passion, peace, and non-violence.

Works Cited

“Civil Rights Movement.” History, 2020. Web.

Bloom, Jack M. Class, race, and the Civil Rights Movement. Indiana University Press, 2019.

“Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream.” American Rhetoric, 2019.

Leonard, Thomas C. “Progressive Era Origins of the Regulatory State and the Economist as Expert.” History of Political Economy, vol. 47, no. 1, 2015, pp. 49-76.

Riches, William T. Martin. The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and resistance. Palgrave, 2017.

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"Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement." Premium Papers, 27 July 2023,


Premium Papers. (2023) 'Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement'. 27 July.


Premium Papers. 2023. "Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement." July 27, 2023.

1. Premium Papers. "Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement." July 27, 2023.


Premium Papers. "Civil Rights Movement and Progressive Movement." July 27, 2023.