The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

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Charles Payne I’ve Got the Light of Freedom:
The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi
Freedom Struggle
John Dittmer’s Local People: The Struggle for
Civil Rights in Mississippi
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“It means Facing a system that does not lend
itself to your needs and devising a means by
which you can change that system. But one of
the guiding principles that has to be that we
cannot lead a struggle that involves masses of
people without getting the people to
understand what the potentials are, what their
strengths are.” Baker
Black Freedom Movement
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Brown decision
Struggle to overturn Plessy vs. Ferguson 1896
Charles Hamilton Houston
1954-1963
1954-1965
1954-1968
1945-1974
1945-????
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Top-down
Focus on legislation
Big events
Community Mobilization
Local people and struggles
Community Organizing
Ella Baker
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Omits the watershed of World War II and black
veterans such as Amzie Moore, Medgar Evers,
etc.
Foundations of the movement
The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement by
Aldon Morris
Posits that there was not one single movement
but various local movement centers (focuses on
Birmingham, Tallahassee and Birmingham)
Challenges the top-down approach
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World War II veterans
Ordinary People
Building indigenous leadership
Amzie Moore, Medgar Evers and Charles
Henry
Lay the foundations
Younger generation
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
Overemphasis on ministers
Many were dependent on the white power structure
Social Control
Slow to move
Congregations were often ahead of the ministers
Social control
Tendency to examine the ministers in the national
movement as representative of the movement
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Civil Rights Movement in the South
Freedom North by Jeanne Theoharis and
Komozi Woodard
Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements
in America
Examples
The term was disturbing to the
mainstream civil rights organizations
and leaders because it threatened the
dependency on white philanthropic
donations
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The demand to control their own destiny
Voting rights, civil rights and human rights
Self-respect
Self-defense
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1964-1965
Too little too late
Energized the movement and focus on
community organizingissues
False premise of netgration
Robert F. Williams
By, David R. Sparrow
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This book is one of the most important documents of the African
“American” freedom struggle.
“Negroes With Guns”, fascinated Huey P. Newton
Became the most important intellectual influences on the Black
Panther Party for Self- Defense in Oakland, California.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E)
“Negroes With Guns” was a kind of bible Black militancy for
members of the Revolutionary African Movement, the Republic of
New Africa, and for many other young race rebels.
Helped lay the groundwork for the Black Power movement.
Timothy Tyson describes Robert F. Williams as, “One of the most
dynamic race rebels of a generation that changed the world”.
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“Negroes with Guns”, raises another unresolved issue:
devaluation and degradation of African “American”
women by larger society.
Important case in Monroe, North Carolina’s attempt to
protect black women from racist, sexist attacks.
Illustrate dehumanizing ways in which African
“American” women were viewed and treated
historically.
Racist white men were granted impunity to disrespect,
exploit, and assault Black women at will, impelled by
anger or lust!
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Advocated self-defense, not violence for it’s
own sake.
Wasn’t against passive resistance practiced by
Armed self-defense isn’t the only answer, but
a critical component in the broad strategy for
liberation.
One difference between Williams and MLK
Jr.
Massive civil disobedience is a powerful
weapon under civilized conditions.
Not introducing violence, combating it.
Violence and Nonviolence
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CORE
Klan terror
campaign
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Bob Hicks, Police
Threats, and Defense
The Bogalusa
Chapter was born
Most successful
Deacons Chapter
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Alton Crowe
shooting, July 8,
1965
Forced government
to enforce civil
rights Laws
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Selma
Chicago
New York
Black Power Conferences 1966-1968
Community Organizing
Kenneth Gibson in Newark, New Jersey
Black and Brown Alliance
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Congress of African People
Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana
Black Independent Convention in 1976
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