The Civil Rights Movement was an introduction to what would be the nations’ most important effort to solve the racial issues. No longer to ignore the race problems; an effort to provide justice and equality to African Americans began, leaders launched demonstrations and speeches were given. The Civil Rights Movement refers to era in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring suffrage in Southern states. “The truth is that no bill insuring civil rights to any person can be enforced so long as there are loopholes available in our political systems loopholes that are the progeny of the very basis of that system, federalism”. (Johnpoll, 1964) Civil rights are guaranteed by law but took many years to achieve. For example even after the Civil War, African Americans were horribly treated, had the worst jobs and were severely underpaid.
Organizations gathered to support litigations against the segregation laws, pressure built leading to a response to the Civil Rights Movement, and through continuing efforts a breakthrough was made where African Americans favored President Kennedy because he helped with the release of Martin Luther King, Jr. from a Georgia prison (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Noted legislative achievements during this phase of the Civil Rights Movement were passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, that banned discrimination based on "race, color, religion, or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations (n.a.2009). Kennedy’s dream was to change the existing segregation laws without hurting the political side in the south. The beginning of the civil rights movements started when Black college students in Greensboro, North Carolina exhibited sit-ins and similar demonstrations began to happen throughout the south (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). In the New York Times paper stated “The National Student Association said that students across the country were joining a mass protest with “nonviolent sit ins” (Salisbury, 1960, p. 28). Some of the people who been a part of the sit-ins formed a group called the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). A year later in 1961 another group of students who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) started “Freedom rides” (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Freedom riders were traveling by bus throughout the south to attempt to desegregate the bus stations.
This movement outraged the whites and violence broke out to where the president had to send marshals to help keep the peace and also the integration of all bus and train stations was ordered to stop (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). The news media covered the movement and the New York Times stated “Determination to continue anti- segregation “Freedom Ride” across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, where students are willing to face death if necessary” (Sitton, 1961, p. 1). The public education was also being forced with the integration by the judicial courts. In 1962, the University of Mississippi was made to enroll the first Black student (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). The governor although refused and Whites began rioting against the courts. President Kennedy again had to step in and send Federal troops to regain peace and protect the student (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement. Any number of historic moments in the civil rights struggle has been used to identify Martin Luther King, Jr. a prime mover of the Montgomery bus boycott, keynote speaker at the March on Washington, youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But in retrospect, single events are less important than the fact that King, and his policy of nonviolent protest, was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968. His main legacy was to secure a progress on civil rights in the United States, and he has become a human rights icon. Malcolm X was a militant black leader in the United States, also a Muslim in The Nation of Islam.
Malcolm's vivid personality had captured the government's attention. Malcolm urged that the Nation to become more active in the widespread civil rights protests instead of just being a critic on the sidelines. “Minister Malcolm was inhibited from joining in the wider battle” (Godsell, 1964). As membership in the Nation of Islam he continued to grow, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents infiltrated the organization; one even acted at Malcolm's bodyguard and secretly placed bugs, wiretaps and cameras surveillance equipment to monitor the group's activities Martin Luther King, Jr., was a powerful speaker who advocated social change through non-violent means (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). He gave a series of demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, which was attacked by the police commissioner by the means of dogs, tear gas, electric cattle prods, and fire hoses (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). These horrific events were reported to the nation by television. President Kennedy could no longer avoid the race issue at hand and gave a message on television to address the moral issue that the nation was facing. Later President Kennedy introduced new legislative proposals that prohibited segregation in stores, restaurants, or any public places (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999).
This also included banning discrimination in employment and schools. In 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial one of the greatest, peaceful, and interracial civil rights demonstrations in the nation’s history took place (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). More than 200,000 people gathered and marched in Washington D.C. with the support of President Kennedy (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Martin Luther King, Jr. moved the crowds with his speech “I have a dream” (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). President Johnson, after President Kennedy was assassinated, won civil rights in 1964 (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Afterward the civil rights victory it moved on to voting rights. A campaign called the “freedom summer,” was started and workers both Black and Whites traveled through the south to gain favor for Black voter registration (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). Reports in the papers read “Detailed proposals for the campaign, which is expected to reach into every corner of this deep south state, were approved by the Council of the Federal organization (Sitton, 1964, p. 26). It caused a violent response from whites in the south and some of the workers were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999).
The people were scared for them because of the violent outbreaks happening (Sitton, 1964). In 1965, President Johnson proposed and won the Civil rights Act or the Voting Rights Act. The federal gave protection to the African Americans to exercise their right to vote. Malcolm X, an African American, who became another influential spokesman of the Civil Rights movements, was also a Black Muslim. Malcolm believed that black people should be able to defend themselves and violently if necessary. Malcolm was assassinated in 1965, but his influence lived on through a book he had written, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and spread through the nations (Brinkley, 2007, 2003, 1999). The Civil Rights movement accomplished a lot during the sixties and a lot of great speakers were recognized. Through time and efforts by the African Americans and the whites who supported them they gained ground concerning their equality.
REFERENCES: Brinkley, A. (2007, 2003, 1999). American History: A Survey. The McGraw Hill companies. Inc. Salisbury, H. (1960, March 2). NEGRO CLERIC SETS NONVIOLENT AIMS: Policy Stressed in Sit down, Nashville Leader Says – Youths Refuses Bail. New York Times (1923 – Current file), p.28. Retrieved from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851-2007) on September 22, 2013. Sitton, C. (1961, May 24). BI-RACIAL RIDERS DECIDE TO GO ON: Dr. King Announces Plan. By Geoffrey Godsell. (1964, March 18).The Challenge of Malcolm X--I. Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file), 24.Retrieved September 22, 2013, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Christian Science Monitor (1908 - 1996). (Document ID: 218792452). B.K. Johnpoll, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Hartwick College. (1964, May 24). Call Civil Rights Work: System of Federalism Considered Obstacle to Equality. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. E10. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 118660701). (2009). Civil Rights Act of 1964. Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database Dr. Martin Luther King Wins Nobel Peace Prize. (1964, October 15). The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), A1. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The Washington Post (1877 - 1993). (Document ID: 180250832).