The event that I would be writing my research paper on is the Civil Rights Movement over the last hundred years. When we think about the civil rights movement, many believe that it all began in the 1950’s and 60’s; however, the civil rights movement began as early as the mid 1800’s as a nonviolent sequence of occurrences that is still today a very prevalent and active part of our society. The civil rights movement was a frightening time for not only blacks, but for most of America. But for blacks, it was empowering at the same time. The endeavors from those who helped during the civil rights movement, which consisted of people of all races, helped to bring about change in legislation to end segregation in all forms. What started out as a simple case involving the issues of American slavery, turned into one of the most watched, hotly debated, divisive and some of the most political cases of the century, and which all served as landmarks for the civil rights movement that came to fruition during the 1950’s and 60’s, thus eventually paving the way for the first African American President of the United States.
One of the reasons that helped usher in what is today known as the civil rights movement originated as fears during the Antebellum period that resonated throughout the south; the fear of slaves rebelling, racial mixing and running away to the north and losing their slave labor which was the foundation of their economy. The supporting argument that will frame my research focuses on is the blatant unfairness of the laws, decisions and court cases that led to the civil rights movement and what affect it had on American Society.
What started out as simple but important events, turned out to be some of the most important decisions of the century. The historiographical arguments that I plan to make in my research paper is how the cases of: Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S.537 (1896), which upheld “separate but equal” racial segregation; Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S.483 (1954), which overturned Plessy; Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S 393 (1857), which held that ‘a negro, whose ancestors were imported into the United States, and sold as slaves,’ whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen, and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States; Harriet Beecher Stow’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is said to have laid the groundwork for the civil war; the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery in 1865, 14th Amendment which gave citizenship to African Americans and the 15th Amendment (ratified in 1870) which constituted that race could not be used as a condition to deprive men of the ability to vote and Jim Crow laws were created in the 19th century to make African Americans insignificant as citizens as well as undue any advancement that was made for blacks during the Reconstruction period. Jim Crow laws enforced segregation and separated blacks when it came to the education system, restrooms and water fountains, and voting; all of these events and cases helped to birth the Civil Rights Movement over the last one hundred years.