The civil rights movements and their impact on American society Essay Example
The civil rights movements and their impact on American society Essay Example

The civil rights movements and their impact on American society Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1452 words)
  • Published: November 4, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Some progress was made for black Americans in the Second World War but their position in society after the Second World War was clearly of second-class citizens. In 1948, President Truman introduced a civil rights plan including an anti lynching bill and a ban on measures designed to stop poor people from voting. However, Truman faced opposition from his own party so many of his plans had to be abandoned.

Little progress was made, although the armed forces were finally desegregated and the government were told to employ a higher percentage of black Americans. Education The subject of education encouraged great passion.In the early 1950s, only sixteen states required their schools to be integrated (teach black and white children together) and even these needs were ignored by individual school districts. But in 1950, the Supreme Cou


rt made two decisions about education which gave fresh hope to black Americans in their struggle for equality: black Americans students could not be segregated within the school attended by whites and when black and white education standards are compared then it is not enough to look at buildings or books but the quality of education and other "intangible factors" had to be considered.These decisions encouraged the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) to challenge an 1896 Supreme Court decision that segregation in education was legal as long as there was an "equal provision". So it was acceptable to have separate schools for blacks and whites as long as they had equal facilities.

The NAACP took the Topeka school board in Kansas to court as a test case. In "Brown vs. Topeka, Kansas", NAACP argued that it

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was simple logic that it was sensible to send seven year old Linda Brown to her nearest school locally instead of an all black one which was several kilometres away.Chief Justice Earl Warren gave his verdict of the court. On 17th May 1954, it was ruled that "in the field of public education the doctrine "separate but equal" has no place". The verdict stated that separate educational facilities really meant unequal ones and that states should set up education systems where black and white children attended the same schools.

This was done with deliberate speed. However, there was a lot of resistance to integration. Some states could introduce it with little difficulty while in others white students refused to attend integrated schools.In some places, "White Citizens' Councils' formed to resist integration. The Ku Klux Klan campaigned to prevent integration. A famous incident happened in September 1957 at Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas.

Nine black students were scheduled to begin their studies as a previous all white school. The Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, claimed he heard that there may be trouble so he had the school surrounded with National Guard soldiers to prevent black soldiers from entering.After a court ruling, Faubus had to remove the troops and the nine black students turned up to school on 5th September. They met a hostile crowd of 1000 people so the nine students returned home with police protection. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock for protection and they remained there until the end of the month then the state National Guard, under the orders of President Eisenhower, protected the black students until the end of the

school year.In September 1958, Faubus closed all schools in Little Rock to prevent integration but the Supreme Court ruled this action against the constitution so the schools were reopened to both black and white students.

In December 1958 a national opinion poll in the USA placed Faubus in the top ten of most admired men in the USA. The Montgomery bus boycott Both the Brown and Little Rock case had shown that progress could be made if the law was involved although there were other methods. A bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama showed that the power that the black Americans had if they worked together.In Alabama, as in many Southern states, blacks were only allowed seats at the rear of the buses and had to give up their seats if a white person had nowhere to sit. In 1955, Rosa Parks took a place in the middle of the bus and refused to give it up when asked to do so by a white person.

She was ejected from the bus and arrested. Her arrest was a spark that black Americans waited for and many historians see the true meaning of the civil rights movements growing from the refusal of Rosa Parks. This incident causes a tremendous outrage in the black community.Immediately, black leaders met to plan a boycott of the bus company.

A local Baptist minister named Martin Luther King lead the protest under the strong influence of Mohandas Gandhi. King requested all blacks to avoid violence and to show their opposition to racial discrimination by peacefully practicing civil disobedience against the laws that they though were wrong. King believed that this approach would

show the dignity of black people and expose the brutality of the white authorities in enforcing discriminatory laws.The black community felt so strongly about the bus issue that they supported King in stopping to ride city buses. King knew that without the black community's fares the buses would lose money.

The bus boycott continued for over a year when the bus company lost 65% of its income. Finally in December 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that the Montgomery bus segregation law was unconstitutional and so were similar laws in other states and cities. A few days later, the boycott ended and Montgomery integrated all its buses.Black people won a significant victory in their battle for civil rights. The campaign continues In the winter of 1959-60 civil rights groups stepped up in their campaigns.

They organised marches, demonstrations and boycotts to end segregation in public places. They especially challenged the practice of not serving blacks at lunch counters. This was a case where large numbers of black people would arrive to stage sit ins. They maintained a non violent method by tolerating abuse from the white people.

By 1960, the crusade for civil rights had become a national movement. Although major changes in the law were slow in coming and defenders of segregation often used violence against civil rights supporters, many Americans were becoming aware of the unfair way in which blacks were treated, particularly in the Southern states. The Kennedy years King won further support for the civil rights movement by appealing to students and from this emerged in April 1960, the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC).Many SNCC workers dropped out of their studies to work

full time in those areas that were most resistant to integration. This was a very brave move as there were very deep rooted feelings in some communities against equal rights for blacks. There were many examples of civil rights workers being beaten up and several of them murdered.

Though President Kennedy supported sit ins and promised to introduce a civil rights bill, there was no mention of this in his inaugural speech as President. More pressure would have to be applied.A group of civil rights activists working for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was determined to confirm that the Supreme Court's decision to integrate bus stations and buses was enforced. Throughout the summer of 1961, members of this group, known as the "Freedom Riders" were arrested but they achieved their goal of gaining huge publicity.

By the end of summer 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission (a body set up to regulate trade and business between states) announced that that there will be no segregation in bus stations and terminals.President Kennedy was keen to bring about improvements for black Americans and his brother, Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, had meetings with the main civil rights groups SNCC, CORE and NAACP in the summer of 1961. Together they constructed the Voter Education Project, which aimed to get more blacks to register to vote and use that vote. As a result, there was a large increase in the number of black voters but at a cost.

Some whites carried out a policy of intimidation in which black communities sometimes found their homes and churches attacked, and individual blacks were subjected to beatings, shooting and evictions.In 1962, the

city authorities at Birmingham, Alabama closed parks, playing fields and swimming pools and other public places to avoid integration. In 1963, King organised a campaign of marches and demonstrations that would confirm maximum media coverage. He was fortunate in some ways because the local police Commissioner, Eugene Bull Connor was determined to take strong action against the black campaigners. He set dogs on the demonstrators and when they refused to go away, he turned fire hoses on them.

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