100 years after the empancipation proclamation was signed the Civil rights movement began (1919-1960s). Even though the signing of the empancipation proclamation abolished slavery, it did not end racial discrimination and segregation. Furthermore the empancipation proclamation changed the federal status of more than 3 million enslaved black Americans, they were granted basic civil rights through the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. However years after the liberation of enslaved black Americans a movement against racial segregation and discrimination was formed.
Black Americans wanted equal rights which included voting rights. This was seen as major issue by the white supremacists in the United States of America. The abolishment of slavery did not allow everyone voting rights or equal rights. This encouraged black Americans to join the civil rights movement and fight for their rights.
South America was more segregated and conservative than North America. After the civil rights war South America segregated coloured Americans from white Americans. Buses, schools, theatres and many other public places were segregated. They were given limited rights. Before the war there was no need for segregation because 95% of black Americans were enslaved.
However 1866 blacks were given more rights, the southern legislators repealed most of the laws that discriminated the blacks. This was seen as progress for black Americans, but the fight for equal rights started to look less progressive in 1877 when the so called democratic parties in the south ended reconstruction. It was seen as a huge disappointment; in fact it was devastating to the coloured Americans. The South set up racially discriminatory law in order to stop the blacks for gaining more power. The South had two main goals segregation and disenfranchisement. Moreover the Democratic Party stopped black Americans from voting by forcing them to pay fees at voting booths and they had to pass the literacy test. Many blacks did not have the money to pay the fees and the Democratic Party was well aware of that, the poll taxes was just another way to prevent them from voting.
It did not matter if you had the money but failed the literacy test. It was seen as impossible for the blacks to vote. How were they supposed to pass the literacy test when most former slaves, who spent the majority of their lives serving whites, were illiterate and teaching blacks was illegal? Most of the black adults were former slaves and the Democratic Party wanted to make it impossible for the blacks to vote. This is also linked to the other law which meant that schools and public facilities had to be segregated. They also murdered blacks to prevent them from voting. Thousands of black people were murdered by white terrorists such as the Klu Klux Klan and American citizens.The civil rights movement began on May 17 1954, that was the day the US Supreme court had to deal with the education of the Topeka case. Even the schools in America were segregated, they had separate schools for white and black children.
The white schools were better because they had it better financially. Furthermore the court had their own opinions on the case, the schools were segregated because of race. Apparently the excuse was that “it generates a feeling of inferiority that may have lasting effects on the children’s hearts and minds”.
Many parents began to challenge the segregation policies of schools. Harry Briggs was one of them, he could not understand why his five children had to ride the bus two miles away when there was a modern white school just a few minutes from their house. However the reason to why the Supreme court ruled in the Topeka case was because of a 7 year old African American girl. Linda Brown’s parents challenged the segregation laws of local school boards. Linda Brown attended an elementary school for black children in Topeka. She had to walk a mile to get to her elementary school. Her father Oliver Brown was angry and thought it was absurd and wrong on all levels because there was a white elementary school not far from their house.
Oliver Brown tried to get his daughter into the white elementary school but the principal was strongly against it and denied her entrance. Therefore Oliver Brown sought the help of the Topeka branch of the NAACP, the case then reached a court in the district Kansas. The US district court of Kansas ruled in favour of the Topeka board of Education. Oliver Brown’s lawyers brought the case to the US Supreme Court and won. However it was not appreciated by the white population in southern America therefore it caused a backlash and southern governors made it very clear to the public that they were not planning on abiding by the decision made by the US Supreme Court 1954.
After the US Supreme Court’s announcement on school desegregation ruling the first real test took place in Arkansas. One of black the presidents of the NAACP was also a local newspaper publisher in Little Rock, Arkansas. Daisy Bates tried to send a group of nine black girls to the local high school but it did not go as planned. It triggered the whites and her windows got smashed and people set fire on crosses on her lawn. The local high school, Little Rock’s central high school was bombed. The few teachers who supported desegregation were fired from the school.
The brutal violence and threats made the process of desegregating the school longer. After two years of fighting against segregation the first black student attended Little Rock’s central high school. Another nine students were supposed to attend the school on September 4, 1957. But no more than one student showed up that day (out of the nine students who were set to enroll at Little Rock’s central high school).
Elizabeth Eckford was the girl that showed up that day, she did not know what the day for attending the school had been adjusted to. The date had been postponed but Elizabeth was not aware of that since her family did not have access to a telephone hence her early arrival. She got of the bus to the school without the company of anyone, on the way to the entrance of the school she was greeted with racial slurs from both grown ups and young children. However before she made it into the building of the school she was stopped by two guardsmen who were sent out there by the governor of Arkansas. Their aim was to stop integration.
She was frightened by the two guardmen and the angry crowd outside the entrance that had been a cause of the attempt to desegregate the school. A white woman walked up to the 15 year old girl and spit on her. The crowd was getting even more angry as the time passed by, you could heart then shouting “Lynch her”. However a white parent intervened which was the reason to why she did not get attacked. The brutal murder of Emmet Till, who was a 14 year old African American from Chicago, was one of the many hate murders which took place in 1955. His young age and the horrible in which he died lead to many reactions. Many hate murders occurred in 1955, but the murder of Emmet Till August 20th 1955 received more attention.
After leaving his home to visit Mississipi for a family gathering which he was really excited about he was only hours away from death. Emmet Till and a few other boys from the area called Money were interacting outside a store in which the store owner’s wife worked. Emmet had told the other the other boys that he had a white girlfriend. He showed them a picture of her in his wallet which made the other boys attempted to ask him to go into the store and speak to the white lady. That woman was the store owner’s wife. Emmet walked into the store and exchanged words with the white woman.
According to the whites Emmet had suggested her to go on a date with him and apparently he had been very flirty. Money was a very small community where the locals knew one another. The locals found out about it very soon, the owner of the store who was the husband of the woman Emmet had talked to was not very happy about the news. The estimated population of Money was 50 people. When. The news reached the owner of the store and he asked his half brother to help him do something about it.
They dragged the boy out of the house into a car in the middle of the night. 3 days after the torture Emmets body was found in the Tallahatchie river. There were mixed reactions but most people in the country were chocked. The store owner and his half brother were brought to trial.
Less than an hour into the trial a white jury decided to free them. They were not found guilty. However after the trial they openly explained how they had tortured the 14 year old boy Emmet Till. They were not really ashamed of what they had done when the reporter asked them why they tortured the young boy they proudly said “Well what could we do? He thought he was as good as any white man”. Emmet was beaten and tortured the whole night. They shot him in the head and wired a cotton gin fan around his neck. The horrible and unmercifull murder of Emmet filled the black Americans with hatered and they wanted to have equal rights so it gave them another reason to fight for their rights. They were not treated equally and this hate crime is a brutal example of it, the African Americans gave impetus to the civil rights movement.
A large number of civil rights activists made various types of attempts to end segregation during this period of time. Rosa Parks was a well known civil rights activist from South America. On a bus 1955 in Montgomery Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. On that day 1 December nobody could have predicted the outcome of it. She even refused to give up her seat to the white passenger when the bus driver asked her to. The driver stopped the bus to call the police.
She broke one of the most honoured Jim Crow laws. When the police arrived they arrested her for disorderly conduct. According to Rosa parks her refusal was not planned because she was tired since she had been working hard all day. Furthermore Rosa Parks knew that by refusing to give up her seat to a white man it would surely bring dramatic consequences, she was arrested shortly after the refusal. Just like the murder of Emmet Till the news about Rosa Parks spread across the country like a wild fire. Luckily the African American leaders paid the bail so she could be released. The African Americans took the matter into their own hands. The white Americans were not concerned but the arrest of Rosa park filled the African Americans with hatred.
Thanks to the leader of the NAACP it did not take long for African Americans to form the Montgomery improvement association. A young leader, Martin Luther King, was chosen for the Montgomery improvement association. Who was unknown at that time. Moreover the arrest of Rosa Parks encouraged the African Americans to wing into action, they knew it was time for a bus boycott. A female leader of a black civic group, Jo Ann Robinson, planned a bus boycott of the Montgomery’s buses.
Jo Ann Robinson and other teachers stayed up a night to make approximately 35 000 flyers calling for a bus boycott. The bus boycott was planned to take place on December 5th which was the day set for Rosa parks trial. That day 15 000 African Americans gathered outside a big church to hear Martin Luther King’s speech about oppression. The bus boycott was planned to last for a day but ironically it turned into 381 day protest where the blacks rode taxis and some hitchhiked their way to work. The protesters were beaten by whites. Many African American leader got their homes firebombed and Martin Luther king was arrested twice during that period.
Despite the harassment and firebombs the African Americans won. The Jim Crow law regarding non integrated buses was brought to an end in by the Supreme court in 1956 November 13. However this was not appreciated by the whites; in fact they were strongly against it. The consequence of this was terrifying, snipers used guns to shoot into integrated buses but African Americans began to ride the buses again and they could sit wherever they wanted!On August 6, 1965 the voting rights act which enabled the protection of the blacks voting rights was signed into law.
Black Americans did no longer have to take the literacy test. The voting rights act was signed into law by president Lyndon B Johnson. The aim was to secure voting rights for coloured people in the United States of America. The act forbids American states from arranging any discriminating voting laws against minorities. Before the voting rights act black Americans had to take literacy test and there were other bureaucratic restrictions to make it impossible for them to vote. A very small number of black Americans could vote. When they tried to vote white Americans harassed and abused them, those who voted also risked economic reprisals.
Therefore the white Americans had all the power over them. They were powerful and the laws supported segregation, it was legal and there were no laws that protected the black Americans legal rights. Many demonstrations were held and many Americans tried to bring attention to the issue of voting rights.
When voting rights activists were murdered in Mississippi, it gained attention. The Congress and president initiated a voting rights legislation. Malcolm X was a well known leader during the civil rights movement. He challenged the movement and was against the non violent pursuit of black integration. Malcolm X encouraged black Americans to defend themselves against white harassment and aggression. Malcolm X was muslim and combined his religion with black nationalism, he believed that the black people were god’s chosen people.
His ideas challenged the mainstream civil rights movement, moreover his ideas were popular amongst younger black Americans. He played a significant role in the civil rights movement which later on laid foundation for the black power movement. His major goal was to make the black Americans powerful both politically and financially. On the first of February 1960 four young students refused to leave their lunch counter without being served.
A few days after the refusal hundreds of people joined them to protest and boycotted all segregated lunch counters until the four students were served at the launch counter. This incident helped launch a student committee to encourage students to take action in the civil rights movement. One of the most prominent speeches were held during the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream” was held on August 28, 1963. He later won the Nobel peace prize in 1964. The speech was held in the capital city during the March on Washington.
The march was organised by civil rights leaders and Martin Luther King’s speech became a slogan for equality.Overall the different organisations and groups such as NAACP, CORE, SCLC and SNCC helped eliminate the Jim Crow laws and racism in the United States of America however it did not eliminate segregation entirely and the process was very long, in the long run the idea of being separate but equal changed. The movement also changed the portrayal of black Americans, they were now portrayed as intelligent and hardworking which made it easier for white Americans to see blacks as equal. However racism was still not entirely defeated and the United States was still facing many issues brought on by racial inequality.
Furthermore in terms of the successions of the movement and long term impacts, it won legislative, judicial and moral victories. As mentioned the Supreme Court eventually supported non segregated public schools and the black voters rights. The law that was forbidding interracial marriages was changed due to the civil rights movement. The fair housing act was also passed by the Congress. White Americans and real estate agents were not legally allowed to refuse to sell houses to black Americans. The law did not longer allow employers to reject a candidate on the basis of skin colour.
To make sure that nobody broke the laws the state set up a watchdog organisation called the EEOC, the organisation’s main duty was to take care of complaints. It won more legal rights for African Americans leading to a less segregated society. In my opinion the most clearest success was the voting rights act of 1954.
The law now allowed black Americans to vote on equal terms. Before the new laws were changed the African Americans segregation was supposed and enforced by the law, after the movement the law forbade segregation which was the civil rights movement’s aim. The main reason why the civil rights movement is seen as a success is due to the fact that the American society became more tolerant and less racist. Before it was acceptable for individuals to be openly racist, the store owner who brutally murdered Emmet was openly racist.
Another long term impact of the movement is the fact that before the civil rights movement it was unthinkable for whites and blacks to associate with one another as equals, later on when black people taught white children in schools and black government workers helped to govern white constituents it made it easier for blacks and whites to associate with one another. Many would argue that there still is racism in the United States today but the society has come a long way in terms of racism.