Ch. 21: The Civil Rights
Movement
(1950-1968)
Section 1: Demands for Civil Rights

Centuries of oppression and discrimination came to a head
during the 1950s, with a historic and successful push for
African American equal rights.
Rise of African American Influence

Migration


Since the end of the Civil War, African Americans had
increasingly migrating to large northern cities.
The New Deal

Under FDR the number of African Americans working
for the government increased.
Rise of African American Influence

WWII



Increased demands led to a
dependency on African
American labor and service in
military.
The Holocaust opened many
American’s eyes to
discrimination within the U.S.
Rise of NAACP

Grew in size and strength.
Strong legal team led by
Thurgood Marshall.
Brown v. Board of Education



In 1951, Oliver Brown sued the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education to
allow his daughter to attend a school for whites only.
Fought by Thurgood Marshall, the case eventually reached the
Supreme Court.
In 1954, in a unanimous decision, the Court ruled that “separate but
equal” was unconstitutional and that schools should desegregate.
Reaction to Brown v. Board of Ed.




Reactions were mixed
African Americans rejoiced, as did many white advocates of
integration.
Many whites, even if they didn’t agree, accepted the decision.
Others, particularly whites in the Deep South reacted with
fear and anger.
Deep South/Opposition
Georgia Governor, Herman Talmadge said he would “not
tolerate the mixing of races in public schools”
 The Ku Klux Klan became more active.
 90 members of Congress expressed opposition in what
became known as the “Southern Manifesto.”


Argued that the Supreme Court had overstepped its bounds and
violated their rights.
Montgomery Bus Boycott



In 1955, Rosa Parks took
a seat at the front of the
“colored” section of the
bus.
When the “whites only”
section filled up, she
refused to give up her
seat to the new white
riders.
She was arrested and
stood trial for violating
segregation laws.
Montgomery Bus Boycott



After Rosa Parks’ arrest, civil rights leaders quickly decided to boycott
the bus system of Montgomery.
Planned to boycott the buses until they changed the segregation
policy.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was the 26-year-old minister of the Baptist
church where the first boycott meeting took place.
Montgomery Bus Boycott



Over the next year, 50,000 African Americans in Montgomery walked,
rode bikes, or joined carpools to boycott the buses.
Although the bus company refused to change its policy, in 1956 the
Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional.
Movement encouraged new leaders like MLK and the effectiveness of
peaceful protests/boycotts.
Little Rock Integration



In 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus defied the Supreme
Court’s ruling of integration.
Posted Arkansas National Guard troops at Central High School in
Little Rock, Arkansas to turn away the nine African American
students who were supposed to attend that year.
Angry mobs formed outside the school in protest of the integration.
Little Rock Integration

President Eisenhower,
although privately
opposed to integration,
was forced to act against
a disobedient Arkansas
government.
 Placed the Arkansas
National Guard under
federal command.
 Sent U.S. soldiers to
Arkansas to protect the
nine students.
League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC)



The League of United
Latin American Citizens
also worked to achieve
equal rights for Hispanics.
Mexican Americans often
attended segregated
schools.
In 1947, it was ruled that
segregating Mexican
American students was
unconstitutional.
Native Americans




Most Native Americans lived in terrible poverty on reservations.
In 1953, the government adopted an approach known as “termination”,
the elimination of reservations with a goal of assimilating Native
Americans into mainstream society.
Met with strong resistance and eventually abandoned.
Poverty and lack of political representation continue today.
Section 2: Leaders and Strategies

The Civil Rights Movement was a grassroots movement,
started and driven by ordinary community members. They
acted through a number of different organizations.
NAACP


Interracial organization
founded by W.E.B. Du Bois
(1909)
Du Bois stated,


“the main object of this
association is to secure for
colored people… free and
equal participation in the
democracy of modern culture.”
NAACP helped win Brown v.
Board case.
National Urban League


Founded in 1911, sought to assist African Americans
moving out of the South to find homes and jobs in cities.
Insisted that factory owners and leaders allow African
American workers the opportunity to learn skills that
would lead to higher employment.
Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE)



CORE was founded in
1942 by pacifists.
Dedicated to bringing
about change through
peaceful confrontation.
Organized
demonstrations against
segregation during WWII,
after the war it grew into a
national organization.
Philosophy of Nonviolence


Rising civil rights leaders, such as MLK, preached
nonviolence, despite violence and hostility towards
African Americans.
Believed that love and nonviolence was more powerful
than violent uprising.
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)

In 1957, MLK helped form the SCLC, which advocated
nonviolent protest.

“To understand that nonviolence is not a symbol of weakness or cowardice,
but as Jesus demonstrated, nonviolent resistance transforms weakness into
strength and breeds courage in the face of danger.” –SCLC statement
Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK)



Grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, father and grandfather were both Baptist
preachers.
Eloquent speaker in his youth, graduated early from high school.
Attended



Morehouse College in Atlanta
Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania
Boston University for his doctorate. (at 26)
King’s Influences




King was greatly influenced by
Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi led India in a nonviolent
revolution to gain their
independence from Great
Britain.
Gandhi believed in protest and
disobedience, but that despite
violence, one must not be
provoked to retaliation.
This won Gandhi and India
widespread international
sympathy.
Gandhi Applied



King began training
volunteers to Gandhi’s
methods.
He showed films, songs,
and skits demonstrating
the success of passive
resistance in India.
King understood that
violent retaliation would
only justify discrimination
and racism.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC)

The SNCC helped young people join the activism.
 More aggressive in their demands, sought immediate
change.
 King praised the organization, calling them “a revolt against
the apathy and complacency of adults in the Negro
community.”
Robert Moses




Bob Moses was a Harvard
graduate student and math
teacher in Harlem.
Moved to Atlanta to join the
SNCC.
Recruited volunteers to
help rural blacks register to
vote.
Helped the SNCC grow to
become a powerful force.
Section 3: The Struggle Intensifies
Sit-ins




Sit-ins became popular.
Protesters sat down in the white section of segregated restaurants
and refused to move until served.
Opponents often persecuted the sitters.
By 1960, 70,000 African American youth had been arrested.
Freedom Rides

In 1960, the Supreme
Court banned segregation
on interstate buses.
 To see if the South would
obey, CORE and SNCC
organized the Freedom
Rides in 1961, where
African Americans rode
the newly integrated
buses.
Violence on the Freedom Ride



Leaving from Washington, D.C., the thirteen freedom
riders experienced only minor conflicts at first.
In Anniston, Alabama, a mob slashed tires of the bus
and when the bus broke down outside town, they broke
a window and threw in a firebomb.
Riders escaped to the beatings of the mob.
Reactions




The nation was horrified to see pictures of the burning bus.
Violence continued as new riders replaced old ones.
In Jackson, Mississippi, riders were arrested immediately and the
first ride died out.
300 more Freedom Riders, however, continued riding throughout the
rest of that summer.
Integration at “Ole Miss”



In 1961, James Meredith
attempted tried to transfer to
the all-white University of
Mississippi, “Ole Miss”.
He was rejected before the
Supreme Court ruled him
eligible.
In defiance, Mississippi’s
Governor blocked Meredith’s
way into the admissions
office.
Integration at “Ole Miss”

President Kennedy was forced to uphold the Supreme
Court’s decision and sent in federal marshals.
 Violence erupted, tear gas used.
 2 people were killed and hundreds hurt.
 Kennedy sent army troops to restore order and ensure
Meredith’s safe admission.
Clash in Birmingham


MLK when to Birmingham,
Alabama in 1963 to organize
protests and boycotts in what he
called “the most segregated city in
America.”
Almost immediately, he was
arrested and placed in jail for
trying to organize a march without
a permit.
Clash in Birmingham

MLK was released on bail and reorganized the march,
this time allowing young people to join.
 During the march, Birmingham’s police arrested 900
young people, used fire hoses and violent dogs on the
marchers.
 Policemen clubbed and jailed the protesters.
National Attention


The one-sided violence of the Birmingham police sparked national
outrage.
Television cameras and pictures brought the images to the entire
nation and ultimately led to desegregation in Birmingham.
Section 4: The Political Response
Kennedy on Civil Rights




John F. Kennedy became
President in 1961.
Campaigned heavily for the
black vote with bold
rhetoric.
“If the President does not
himself wage the
struggle… the battle will be
lost.” –JFK
Once in office, Kennedy
proved more moderate,
afraid to anger southern
senators.
Medgar Evers

With escalating Southern violence, JFK
spoke up on television…

“We preach freedom around the world… but are we
to say to the world… that this is the land of the free
except for the Negroes?... The time has come for this
nation to fulfill its promise.” –JFK

Hours after the speech, NAACP leader
Medgar Evers was gunned down and
murdered outside his home.
White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith
was charged with murder.

After 2 hung juries, he was convicted
in a reopened case in 1994 (30 years
later).

March on Washington

Leaders in the movement organized a massive March on Washington in
August 1963.
 Over 200,000 people.
 Many celebrities participated including Jackie Robinson, Bob Dylan, and
Peter, Paul, and Mary.
 MLK gave the keynote speech… “I have a dream”
“I Have a Dream” -MLK

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and
live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I
have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia,
the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave
owners will be able to sit down together at the table of
brotherhood… I have a dream that my four children will
one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by
the color of their skin, but by the content of their
character… All of God’s children, black men and white
men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will
be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old
Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God
Almighty, we are free at last.’”
Civil Rights Act of 1964


Under Lyndon B. Johnson (after
JFK assassination) government
passed its most far reaching
civil rights act.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964…




Banned use of different voter
registration standards for blacks and
whites
Prohibited all discrimination in public
accommodations
Allowed withholding of federal funds
from institutions which practice
discrimination
Banned discrimination by employers
and unions
Section 5: The Movement Takes a
New Turn

The slow pace of progress frustrated many African
Americans who turned away from MLK’s message of love,
integration, and nonviolence for more radical, militant black
power movements.
Malcolm X




Born Malcolm Little in
Omaha, Nebraska.
Father spread the “back-toAfrica” message of Marcus
Garvey.
Grew up in ghettos in
Detroit, Boston, and NYC;
turned to crime.
At 20, he went to jail for
seven years for burglary.
Nation of Islam (Black Muslims)



In Jail, Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam, often called the
Black Muslims.
They viewed white society as oppressive and preached
black separation.
Their leader, Elijah Muhammad, taught that Allah (God)
would bring about a “Black Nation”
Black Nationalism




Malcolm changed his name
to Malcolm X, “Little” he said
had come from slave-owners.
Exiting prison in 1952, he
began preaching as a
minister for the Nation of
Islam.
Preached black nationalism,
that African Americans must
be a strong, unified, and
separate community.
White society was perceived
as the enemy.
Opposed to Integration



Malcolm X disagreed with
the goals and strategies of
the early civil rights
movement.
“all of this non-violent,
begging-the-white-man kind
of dying”
Believed blacks shouldn’t
integrate but form a
separate, self-reliant society
and economy.
Malcolm X: Mecca



As an Islamic pilgrimage, Malcolm X traveled to Mecca,
Saudi Arabia in 1964.
Seeing millions of interracial Muslims worshiping
peacefully together completely transformed him.
Changed his hatred toward whites and separatist views.
Malcolm X Assassinated

When he returned, he
appeared ready to work
with other civil rights
leaders and white
Americans.
 His radical transformation
created enemies with his
former friends.
 In 1965, just nine months
after returning, he was
shot to death in NY by
members of the Nation of
Islam.
The Black Power Movement

Figures such as Malcolm X, despite his change of heart,
gave way to a new, more aggressive and militant
movement, the Black Power Movement.
SNCC Shifts Gears



Stokely Carmichael, born in
Trinidad, came to the U.S. and
became involved in the SNCC.
Grew tired of nonviolence and
arrests, called SNCC members
to begin carrying guns and
wanted the group to be
exclusively black.
At one of King’s rallies, he took
the microphone and challenged
leaders…
“The only way we gonna stop them white men from
whippin’ us is to take over. We been saying
freedom for six years- and we ain’t got nothin’.
What we gonna start saying now is ‘black power!’”
–Carmichael
Black Panthers





In 1966, a new militant political party, the Black Panthers, were formed.
Panthers wanted African Americans to take charge in their
communities.
Wanted government to rebuild the ghettos and often were involved in
violent confrontation with police.
“Power flows from the barrel of a gun”
“Black is beautiful”
Law v. Reality
 The
early civil rights movement focused on
fighting legal discrimination.
 Fighting de facto segregation and African
American poverty, however, was much
more difficult.
 Poverty, poor living conditions, lack of
education, and general discrimination
continued to plague blacks despite
changing legislation.
Riots in the Streets




Residents in ghettos
often viewed police as
dangerous oppressors.
In the mid 1960s, major
riots broke out throughout
the country.
In 1965, the Los Angeles
riots were most famous.
A normal arrest turned
violent and resulted in six
days of rioting.
MLK Assassinated



In 1968, King was campaigning for his movement to help
reduce poverty in Memphis, Tennessee.
Gave “mountain top” speech
Next day, shot while standing on hotel balcony.
Response
 The
nations was devastated by King’s
assassination.
 President Johnson order flags to half
mast.
 Frustrated, many African Americans
believed King’s death meant the death to
nonviolent change.
 Riots broke out throughout the country.
Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated



Robert F. Kennedy was a major civil rights supporter.
Served as Attorney General for brother, JFK.
Robert was running for the Democratic presidential
nomination in 1968, and winning, when assassinated.
Legacy of the Movement

The death of MLK and Bobby Kennedy caused many to
question if true progress was made during the movement.
 Even today, racial, economic, and social divisions remain
both nationally and globally.
 However, the civil rights movement succeeded in ending the
legal discrimination of African Americans in the U.S., and in
raising awareness of race issues in our world.
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Chapter 21: Pointpoint