Historical events of great significance leave a marked trail on the life of the consecutive generations of a nation. As a democratic country, the USA has been shaped by an array of social movements and political decisions. One of the most characteristic and commonly occurring issues in American history is the rights of African American citizens. With a long history of slavery, discrimination, segregation, and rights deprivation, black US citizens have faced a peak of liberation with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960-s. The massive volume of events, a large number of involved individuals, and the activists’ persistence allowed the movement to succeed and eliminate segregation from the nation’s political agenda. This historic event was a turning point in US history since it resulted in a change to the legislation that ensured equal rights to all citizens regardless of race. The present paper is aimed at arguing that the process and outcomes of the 1960-s Civil Rights Movement have shaped the overall equality movement in contemporary society by setting a successful example and eliminating segregation in America.
The Causes of the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement is a more than a decade-long process of liberation protests of the African American population of the USA against discrimination and inequality. The causes of this historic event are several, including long-term issues and immediate events that triggered the response of the public. In particular, an influential long-term factor that played a significant role in the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement originated in the pre-revolution times when forced labor and slavery eliminated freedom from African Americans’ lives (Levy, 2019). Although slavery was abolished, the aftermath of the discriminatory attitude toward blacks and the lack of rights and freedoms allocated to them by law resulted in oppression and segregation. The US society was divided into the white and black populations, where white supremacy continuously grew by discriminating against African Americans’ rights in education, jobs, accommodation, housing, healthcare, and other essential spheres of life (Riches, 2017). Thus, a history of violence and oppression of African Americans by the white population within the legal frameworks contributed to the Civil Rights Movement’s start.
As for the immediate causes that triggered mass protests across the country, several events became publically acclaimed. The year 1955 became a turning and starting point in the movement because that year, two occurrences attracted particular attention of the African American community to the need to fight for equal rights. Firstly, as reported by Riches (2017), in August 1955, the white murderers of an African American boy named Emmett Till, who was referred to as a white woman in public and was violently killed, were acquitted. Secondly, in December 1955, a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man as it had been required according to segregation rules (“Civil Rights Movement,” 2021). Her refusal to give her seat was a reason for her arrest, after which a wave of public disagreement followed, and the victim was supported. These two cases and the public’s reaction to them were the indicators of inequality and white dominance that violated the Constitutional rights of the blacks.
The Course of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960-s
Starting with the previously described triggering events in 1955, a wave of protests spread across the states. People were demanded political and legislative recognition of equal rights between black and white populations of the USA. The protestors fought for the elimination of segregation, discrimination, and oppression and were required to be granted civil rights by law. After two years of protests, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was signed to ensure equal rights to vote (Levy, 2019). However, everyday life discrimination and segregation were not eliminated from the African American community, so the movement continued. The most important events were Freedom Riders’ acts and other organized actions that protested against segregated organizations and transportation.
Among many activists, the Civil Rights Movement leader, pastor Martin Luther King, made history by his deliberate actions, negotiations with the representatives of power, and encouragement of the protestors. A series of boycotts, protests, and strikes in Mississippi, New York, Washington, and other states of the USA was followed by the March on Washington in 1963 (Levy, 2019). Approximately 250 000 people participated in the march where Martin Luther King pronounced his speech ‘I Have a Dream’ that made success possible. Ultimately, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed, and African Americans obtained equal rights by eliminating segregation and forbidding racial discrimination.
The Consequences of the Civil Rights Movement for American Society
According to Orr (2018), the two decades, the 1950-s and the 1960-s were pivotal for black people in the USA. The event’s importance is validated by the fact that “during those years, African Americans finally won the rights that the US Constitution had always guaranteed each of its citizens” (p. 8). Indeed, the Civil Rights Movement participants’ achievements have granted the consecutive generation a life without discrimination and with legal opportunities for equality. However, history is a process of change, where an issue might not be eliminated instantly.
Indeed, the discrimination problem continues to be relevant in contemporary society, illustrated by the latest events of the Black Lives Matter movement. The successful history of the Civil Rights Movement becomes a guide for contemporary protestors by setting an example and providing tools for goal achievement (Clayton, 2018). Importantly, since the outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960-s produced a legal recognition of equal rights regardless of race or ethnicity, contemporary social movements related to racial issues have a solid legislative ground to pursue their agendas (Levy, 2019). Moreover, the example of successful resistance against injustice and the success it gained continues to demonstrate the feasibility of democratic movements, shaping American society’s life now (Mazumder, 2018). Therefore, the consequences of the discussed event are evident in contemporary society and include both the equal rights of all races and ethnicities and the direction of social movements in the USA.
In summation, the choice of the Civil Rights Movement as a historic event for the paper was validated by the relevance of racial issues to modernity. The Black Lives Matter movement illustrates that racial discrimination has not completely disappeared. However, it was of interest to e to identify the causes and consequences of the successful historical event that addressed racial issues to understand the contemporary events. In such a manner, the conducted research and the collected information on the studied issue allowed me to see the Civil Rights Movement not only as a sequence of events but also as a logical process that was characterized by social, political, and legislative factors.
For example, before investigating the problem in-depth, I assumed that the cases of Emmett Till and other African Americans were insufficient for triggering such a massive protest. However, now I realize the scope of the social oppression that reached far beyond several cases but adversely impacted African Americans’ lives on an everyday basis. Given the relevance of the topic to the USA’s contemporary political situation, the current thesis might be expanded into more detailed research comparing the Black Lives Matter of 2020 and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960-s.
Civil Rights Movement. (2021). History. Web.
Clayton, D. M. (2018). Black lives matter and the civil rights movement: A comparative analysis of two social movements in the United States. Journal of Black Studies, 49(5), 448-480.
Levy, P. B. (2019). The Civil Rights Movement: A reference guide. ABC-CLIO.
Mazumder, S. (2018). The persistent effect of US civil rights protests on political attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 62(4), 922-935.
Orr, T. B. (2018). The Civil Rights Movement: Advocating for Equality. Greenhaven Publishing LLC.
Riches, W. (2017). The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and resistance. Macmillan International Higher Education.