The American Civil Rights Movement

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The American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) denotes the reform movements in the United States claimed to abolish racial favouritism against African Americans and restoring suffrage in Southern states.

Civil Rights Movement in the United States, touching upon the matters of political regulation, matters of law, and social fight by black Americans to attain complete citizenship rights and to achieve racial equality. The civil rights movement was first and foremost a fight against segregation, the structure of laws and traditions dividing blacks and whites that whites used to direct blacks after slavery was eliminated in the 1860s. During the civil rights movement, personalities and civil rights associations challenged isolation and favouritism with a diversity of activities, entailing protest demonstrations, boycotts, and denial to stand for segregation laws. Lots suggest that the movement started with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and terminated with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, though there is a dispute about when it started and whether it has terminated yet. The civil rights movement has also been regarded as the Black Freedom Movement, the Negro Revolution, and the Second Reconstruction. (Adeleke, 1998)

Lots of those who were most vigorous in the Civil Rights Movement, with unions such as SNCC, CORE and SCLC, prefer the term “Southern Freedom Movement” as the struggle was about far more than just civil rights under the law; it was also about essential matters of freedom, admiration, decorum, and economic and social parity.

A Country of Strangers

Forty years after the civil rights movement, not only does racial discrimination still exists but it has become even more sinister for having gone realized, argues Mathis, a syndicated journalist of USA Today. This more dangerous hurt of discrimination, less obvious and consequently harder to meet, permeates the American community to the extent that black Americans feel suspicious and scratchy in their own state, she argues. Mathis visits all of the key signs of racial anxiety: the O.J. Simpson trial, L.A. riots, affirmative action quarrels, classification (she favours black to African-American), Ebonics, multiculturalism, school tickets, “hyper incarceration” and racism in the lawmaking structure, even the affiliation between the matched Florida votings and discrimination against blacks and other minorities at the polls.

These different hot-button matters have the unwished result of further estranging blacks, Mathis states, from the performers of their coercion the media, economic organizations and the supporting system which could also be ways out of this unlucky state of matters. Mathis’s grip on hot African-American history is estimable: she writes derisive indictments against companies for dumping toxic chemicals in black districts, against police for profiling and making “living while black” an actual danger that black parents must inform to their children, and against well-meaning colourless for suspicious looks and condescending approaches. She staggers at times while attempting to intertwine individual practice into the polemic, where it detracts rather than adds to her disagreement, and salvaged material from her column could have been skipped. (Shipler, 1998)

In the book by Shipler (A Country of Strangers), it shaped, that the consequence is a loose combination of viewpoints that do not entail the best confronts to affirmative action or even to divisive political outlines like Washington D.C.’s mayor, Marion Barry. As an alternative, enthusiasts of such agendas or people get a free overtake to tell their part of the story. Barry’s story, for instance, comes across in the pages of the book as a biblical resurrection: a black man persecuted by drugs and imprisoned before his family being reborn. There is no study of his corrupt hold on power in the city, or of the injured, he did to the countrywide struggle for black political force. Likewise, there are no influences speaking out about the assets of racial incorporation and incorporation, despite their assessment to lots of white ethnic immigrants as well as most blacks. (Shipler, 1998)

The Civil Rights Movement was as well a war of words. Sticks and stones – cords, associations, fire hoses, dogs, jail time, rigged courtyards, and bullets – but the white people were always speaking rubbish – to the best of their capability. Opponents to blacks were always stating something to the effect, that the black movement was like communism. It used to amaze how often whites resorted to such a strange allegation; it was preferred of theirs. (Ellison, 1992)

The idea of thousands upon thousands of young African Americans in the South being communists really would have been absurd, perhaps even in the wild fantasies of the southerners of those times. I guess the idea was that it was we “outside agitators” from the North who were communists trying to bamboozle the “good Nigras” of the crackers’ fond imagination into the communist revolution. I remember in a trial after a march in which I was a defendant at Atty. C. B. King retorting to a comment by the Judge (who had denied C. B.’s attempt to cut off the prosecutor’s line of questioning was I a member of the communist party) whether being against segregation was ipso facto to be a communist in the eyes of the Court. Essentially the Judge’s retort was inquisitive. He reacted that to be “against a particular amount of isolation was not in itself” proof of confirmation a communist, although it did suggest the need for further study.

The structure of segregation also entailed the refutation of electing rights, known as disfranchisement. Between 1890 and 1910 all Southern states entailed laws compelling conditions for voting that were applied to avoid blacks from voting, in spite of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which had been created to defend black voting rights. These conditions entailed: the capability to read and write, which prohibited the lots of blacks who had not had admission to tutoring; possession tenure, something few blacks were capable to obtain; and paying a poll tax, which was too enormous a lumber on most Southern blacks, who were very reduced. As a final abuse, the few blacks who created it over all these difficulties could not vote in the Democratic primaries that chose the applicants as they were open only to whites in most Southern states. (Davies, 2001)

As blacks could not vote, they were practically effortless to avoid whites from segregating all factors of Southern life. They could do tiny to stop segregation in public housings, tutoring, financial opportunities, or lodging. The capability to fight for equality was even weakened by the widespread Jim Crow signs, which continuously repeated blacks of their substandard status in the Southern community. Segregation was an all including structure.

Conditions of Civil Rights Movement

After the argued election of 1876 and the end of Modernization, White Americans in the South continued political regulation of the section under a one-party structure of Democratic regulation. The voting rights of blacks were gradually more repressed, racial separation impressed, and aggression against African Americans expanded. This phase is often referred to as the “depths of American race contacts,” and while it was most powerful in the South to a slighter extent it influenced the whole nation. (Weisbrot, 1990)

There was also a global context for the exploits of the U.S. Federal management during these years. It had the physique to keep in Europe and a requirement to appeal to the populace in Third World. In Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy, historian Mary L. Dudziak revealed how, in the ideological struggle of the Cold War, Communist opponents could effortlessly point out the presence of the United States’s representation of itself as the “leader of the free world” when lots of its citizens were the matter of racial segregation. She stated that this was a key factor in pushing the administration to maintain civil rights legislation. (Taylor, 1995)

The structure of obvious, state-authorized racial favouritism and coercion that appeared out of the post-renovation South and spread countrywide became regarded as the “Jim Crow” structure, and it stayed virtually unbroken into the early 1950s. methodical disfranchisement of African Americans appeared in Southern states at the turn of the century and lasted until countrywide civil rights legislation was taken in the mid-1960s. For more than 60 years, they were not capable to select one person in the South to corresponding to their interests. As they could not vote, they could not sit on adjudicators restricted to electors. They had no part in the impartiality structure or law enforcement, nevertheless in the 1880s, they had held lots of local workplaces, entailing that of the sheriff. (Plummer, 1996)

Some of the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement can be featured in TV exposure. The taping and propagation of the representations of civil rights workers, protests, demonstrations and clashes revealed as never before the strict and merciless conduct of African Americans by abilities in the South. Such reporting wakened the scruples of conventional or middle America as to situations in the South. In “Television News and the Civil Rights Struggle” Prof. William Thomas states that even “in the American South, local TV news coverage had direct and essential effects” on awareness of social parity and segregation.

One of Martin Luther King’s approaches was to confront mainstream America on moral basements to end the racial segregation in the South. The medium of TV was mainly efficient at communicating the news about the situations of the superiority of life for African Americans in the South. The news transmits and documentary movie-making was the first shapes for offering these narrations. Later in the 1970s, the film “Roots” by Alex Haley was stated to be a pivot point in mainstream America’s capability to narrate the pressures and individualities of African American history. (King, 1997)

But the oratory of the civil rights movement at first not succeeded to bring progress. President Kennedy was originally unwilling to press Southerners for support on civil rights as he required their votes on other matters. But occasions forced his hand. When James Meredith was refused admittance to the University of Mississippi in 1962 on the explanation of his battle, Kennedy sent centralized crowds to support the law. After objections aimed at the integration of Birmingham, Alabama, prompted an aggressive response by the police, he offered Congress a new civil rights bill consenting to the incorporation of public positions. Not even the “March on Washington,” nevertheless, could remove the computer from a congressional commission, where it was still contained when Kennedy was killed.

Johnson was more victorious as a president. A Southerner from Texas, he turned to be committed to civil rights as he sought nationwide office. In 1963, he told Congress: “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honour President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill.” Applying all his influence, he convinced the Senate to restrict debate and protected the passageway of the removing Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited favouritism in all public housings. The next year, he depressed further for what turned to be the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It approved the federal government to assign inspectors to chronicle voters where local officials made black registration unfeasible. The year after passage, 400,000 blacks were recorded in the deep South; by 1968 the amount reached 1 million and countrywide the number of black returned officials augmented considerably. Finally, in 1968, Congress passed legislation banning segregation in the housing sphere. (Plummer, 1996)

Aims of the movement

The main aim of African Americans in the early 1960s was the attainment of legal parity. Prior to that epoch, both law and social custom demoted black people to a disconnected and substandard legal position. When John F. Kennedy was elected as a president in 1961, black Americans, in particular those living in southern and border states, were refuted legal parity and human self-respect. They could not take part in elections, were barred from communal facilities, were subjected to custom insults and aggression (often carried out by law enforcement officers), and could not wait for impartiality from the courts. Blacks were regarded as second-class citizens, and the white South was concluded to keep it that way. In the North, black Americans also countenanced favouritism (although it was more subtle) in accommodation, employment, and tutoring. Civil rights organizers would eventually confront the fact that discrimination was not just a southern matter. But, from 1961‑to 1963, the centre of the civil rights movement was in the South. The primary prize searched by the civil rights movement of the early 1960s was that black America had never experienced: full legal parity.

The pace of civil rights complaints rose piercingly in retort to the Supreme Court concluded. The Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott of 1955, led by twenty-six-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., ended segregated seats in Montgomery and won national concentration. Right through this period, President Eisenhower never openly supported the Supreme Court ruling or made any declaration maintaining the standard of incorporation. A crisis exploded in 1957 when the governor of Arkansas assured to resist the integration of Little Rock High School. The Eisenhower administration was totally compelled to federalize the National Guard and accompany the nine black undergraduates into the school. (Shipler, 1998)

But, even after Little Rock, school incorporation was devastatingly slow – mostly token in the scenery. And, segregation generally stayed largely without changes. In February 1960, four black students from segregated Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, N.C. sat down in a local Woolworth’s and asked for being served lunch. (laws permitted them to buy items in the store, but did not permit them to sit at the lunch counter.) The request was declined. Within a few days, more than 50 students had volunteered and within weeks the society had spread across college campuses. Sitting and standing acts of protest, wade‑ins, and pray‑ins covered the South, with more than 65 cities in 12 states influenced in the first two months and more than 50,000 young people taking part during the first year. Images of white crowds falling sugar and mustard on the protesters or putting cigarettes out on their necks only augmented the numbers of participators – lots of them were white.

In the spring of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. arranged a desegregation demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, which he named the most segregated city in the USA. The city government, led by Police Chief “Bull” Connor, declined to surrender. King arranged sit-ins and protests by thousands of school children–which started on Good Friday. Supported by the state’s new segregationist manager George Wallace, the Birmingham police retorted to dogs and high-power fire hoses to put down the sit-ins. King was captured along with nearly a thousand children. Kennedy, as an expression of federal power, sent several thousand troops to an Alabama airbase. The hostility was transmitted on television to the nation and the world. The Kennedy government moved quickly to react to the crisis by accelerating the drafting of a complete civil rights bill. (Arp, 1999)


In August 1963, more than 200,000 Americans of all races celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation by participating in the March on Washington. The occasion was led by central civil rights shapes such as A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin, and Whitney Young. But the most excellent moment came when Martin Luther King, Jr. provided his “I Have a Dream Speech.” The complete civil rights bill had clarified several obstacles in the Congress by the descend, entailing winning the support of House and Senate Republican heads.

The bill was left with Lyndon B. Johnson who, prior to coming Vice President, had worked as a U. S. Senator for Texas. Johnson applied his associations with Southern white Congressional managers and the expression of emotion from the state in retort to the death of President Kennedy to accelerate the Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill as a way to respect President Kennedy. Provisions of the bill entailed: (1) defending African Americans against segregation in voter condition tests; (2) forbidding intolerance in all other public places engaged in throughway commerce; (3) approving the U.S. Attorney General’s office to file lawful suits to obliged desegregation in public schools; (4) approving the extraction of centralized funds from plans practising favouritism; and (5) outlawing favouritism in employ in any industry exceeding twenty-five people and making an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to review criticisms. This bill was bypassed on July 2, 1964, and was an essential step in attaining the civil rights movement’s original aim: full legal fairness.


Adeleke, Tunde. “Black Americans, Africa and History: A Reassessment of the Pan-African and Identity Paradigms.” The Western Journal of Black Studies 22.3 (1998): 182.

Arp, William Iii, and James Llorens. “Environmental Justice for Black Americans: A Question of Fairness.” The Western Journal of Black Studies 23.2 (1999): 125.

Davies, Lincoln L. “Lessons for an Endangered Movement: What a Historical Juxtaposition of the Legal Response to Civil Rights and Environmentalism Has to Teach Environmentalists Today.” Environmental Law 31.2 (2001): 229.

Ellison, Christopher G., and Bruce London. “The Social and Political Participation of Black Americans: Compensatory and Ethnic Community Perspectives Revisited.” Social Forces 70.3 (1992): 681-701.

King, Desmond. Separate and Unequal: Black Americans and the US Federal Government. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Pinkney, Alphonso. Black Americans. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prenitice-Hall, 1975.

Plummer, Brenda Gayle. Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Shipler, K. David A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America Vintage publishing, 1998.

Taylor, Quintard. “The Civil Rights Movement in the American West: Black Protest in Seattle, 1960-1970.” The Journal of Negro History 80.1 (1995): 1.

Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of America’s Civil Rights Movement. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.

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