After years of oppression of African-Americans, it was time to stop it. And not just in one classroom or one public place, but all over the country by passing laws and signing Acts. Decades ago blacks protested for their rights, made their way to the constitution, freed themselves from slavery, but the extremist racism embedded in the minds of white supremacists has really made the cause even stronger gaining popularity and support from all over the country.
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Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement definition is that its a decades-long movement led by African Americans to end slavery, injustice and violence against them. It started in 1954 and ended in 1968, almost a 14 year struggle for blacks to be given a seat at the table.
The movement didn’t charge up overnight, this was the product of decades and decades long injustice and violence against blacks. It all started when Africans were forcefully transported to the Americas as part of the Middle Passage back in 1699 and 1845 where they were given to whites as slaves to work in hardcore industries to produce wealth and goods for them.
Since then, blacks were considered an inferior race and were dehumanized to the point where even killing them in the name of race was no big deal. Years of segregation and torture eventually sparked the civil rights movement in 1954 in America where blacks put a full stop on the unfair treatment and malice against them.
Civil Rights Movement Activists
One of the most notable figures of the movement and also known as the ‘mother of the civil rights movement’ was Rosa Parks, a 42 year old black woman who refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus for a white person. Transport systems were segregated with a different section for whites and blacks, and when the white section filled up, the bus driver asked three black people to vacate their seats for whites, to which Rosa Parks retaliated and was soon arrested.
This incident sparked up the movement and encouraged blacks to stand up for their rights and to support the cause of Ms. Parks. History is full of examples of such brave and heroic black activists who decided it was enough!
The March on Washington in 1963 was a peaceful protest in August 1963, led by famous African American activists like Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. The main purpose of this protest was to force the civil rights legislation and to have equal pay in the corporate sector.
Almost 200,000 people joined the cause which led to President John F. Kennedy sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, guaranteeing equal employment opportunities, no literacy test for black voters and to make sure that all public facilities were integrated.
Jimmie Lee Jackson
There has not ever been a peaceful protest where white supremacists didn’t interfere. And their interference caused killing and torturing of blacks on the streets. When in 1965 a black civil rights activist, Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed by a white police officer, 600 peaceful protestors marched from Alabama to Montgomery demanding justice.
As the nonconformists approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were impeded by Alabama state and neighborhood police sent by Alabama lead representative George C. Wallace, a vocal rival of integration. Declining to remain down, dissidents pushed ahead and were violently beaten and tear gassed by police and many nonconformists were hospitalized. This incident was widely broadcasted on mass media and was then given the name of Bloody Sunday.
Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the biggest black activists who fought all his life for the civil rights movement, and eventually gave his life to, was Martin Luther King Jr. He was the leading man in all movements and protests and the African American community owes a lot to him.
The civil rights movement had suddenly started facing immense criticism and backlash as a result of blacks being given their space and voice. In 1965, an African American activist, Malcolm X was assassinated at a rally and soon after in 1968, nobel peace prize winner and a hero in the black community, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
King’s death outraged the black community because as a leader he always chose non-violent ways of activism and his brutal assassination on a hotel balcony. In the spring of 1968, King gave a heartwarming speech about his mission and goals, and said, ‘I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.’
This speech moved thousands of blacks in the community and some white people who were fighting for the same cause. But African Americans saw their leader’s assassination as a rejection of equality and justice they had been fighting together, for years.
What President signed The Civil Rights Act into Law?
Civil Rights Act- 1957
Even though many African Americans had legally gained the right to vote, the Southern hemisphere made it severely difficult for them to vote. They couldn’t stand the fact that the blacks they once enslaved were now on their common ground, thus they made blacks take literacy tests that were often too difficult to pass and made sure the process was humiliating for them.
In september 1957, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act and made it into a law to make sure no blacks were being denied their right to vote. This also streamlined the whole system making it easier to pinpoint voter fraud and corruption.
Civil Rights Act- 1964
The most prominent Civil Rights Act was signed, and made into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964 which prohibited the discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sex and religion. This Act was a landmark in the history of the US, which allowed racial equality and condemned segregation in public spaces, transportation, schools and even the government.
The civil rights movement summary is that it is widely known as a movement to stop injustice and racism against blacks in the US. What started in the 1950s still has a mark today, all the way in 2020. Racism isn’t a concept that was built overnight; it stems from years of oppressive and superior thinking against one particular race, and often sprouts extremist behavior like killing and torture.
There has been a change in how the world views blacks now, they are given a seat at the table, they are given voice, and even a role in popular culture. However, the problem is still there. The oppression is still there. It may be masked behind subtle actions, but it is very much still alive. And it may take another decade of protests and marching for rights to reach the goal that the founders of the civil rights movements once dreamed of.
Even in all the rigorous hate against them, African Americans rose above all and fought for their status today, and if anyone stands in their way, they will retaliate when the revolution comes.