The Rights Of African Americans In The 1950s And 1960s

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The Rights Of African Americans In The 1950s And 1960s

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1950's - African American Civil Rights Movement

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Back in the midth century, however, things were a whole lot worse. In the s, African Americans were denied basic civil and human rights thanks to discrimination and segregation practices. Just so you know, discrimination meant black people were denied opportunities because of their race, while segregation meant the provision of separate — and often inferior — facilities for people of colour to use. These rules were known as Jim Crow laws; Jim Crow was the subject of a C19th song that made derogatory comments about African Americans. So, things were pretty bad for people of colour in 20th century America. In order to kickstart the discussion about racial equality, a number of organisations were set up to campaign for civil rights.

Second on the list is the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee SNCC , which mobilised support from white students for the Civil Rights Movement, and was overall incredibly active in the field of voter registration. The NAACP went on to mount successful legal challenges that effectively outlawed aspects of segregation, so they were pretty important.

By , black students had started attending traditionally white schools. Little Rock Central High School was forced to accept nine black students into its all-white institution after mass protests broke out, and were attended by Federal troops sent by then-President Dwight D. This move marked the beginning of Federal support for the civil rights campaign, which was a pretty big jump at the time. But despite advances in the fight for racial equality, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Brown vs Board of Education in Topeka, segregation was still the norm across the US by Early on that year, what was to be a non-violent protest by four African American students at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, resulted in a sit-in movement that quickly spread to college towns throughout the region.

The eventual outcome of the national sit-ins was the desegregation of lunch counters. Next up on our agenda is the Freedom Riders. A group of 13 African American and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Rides, which were a series of bus trips through the south of America protesting segregation on interstate buses, and in waiting rooms, bathrooms and bus stations.

Sadly, the bus the group was travelling on was fire-bombed, and they were badly beaten after local police colluded with the KKK to bring the activists down. That being said, the Freedom Riders still won in the end — by September , the Interstate Commerce Commission had issued regulations prohibiting segregation in bus and train stations nationwide. Ready for a mind-blowing fact? In the post-war years blacks supported the decolonization of Africa and Asia. Henry A. White southern resistance to Brown was formidable and the slow pace of change stimulated impatience especially among younger African Americans as the s began.

They concluded that they could not wait for change—they had to make it. And the Montgomery Bus Boycott , which lasted the entire year of , had demonstrated that mass direct action could indeed work. The four college students from Greensboro who sat at the Woolworth lunch counter set off a decade of activity and organizing that would kill Jim Crow. The March on Washington, most often remembered as the event at which Dr. Movement activists from SNCC and CORE asked sharp questions about the exclusive nature of American democracy and advocated solutions to the disfranchisement and violation of the human rights of African Americans, including Dr.

See: Dr. King called for a guaranteed annual income, redistribution of the national wealth to meet human needs, and an end to a war to colonize the Vietnamese. Malcolm X proposed to internationalize the black American freedom struggle and to link it with liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Thus the Civil Rights Movement of the s and s was not concerned exclusively with interracial cooperation or segregation and discrimination as a character issue.

Rather, as in earlier decades, the prize was a redefinition of American society and a redistribution of social and economic power. For example, they will question whether President Kennedy sincerely believed in racial equality when he supported civil rights or only did so out of political expediency. Or they may ask how whites could be so cruel as to attack peaceful and dignified demonstrators. Leading productive discussions that consider broader issues will likely have to involve debunking some conventional wisdom about the Civil Rights Movement. Guiding students to discuss the extent to which nonviolence and racial integration were considered within the movement to be hallowed goals can lead them to greater insights.

Nonviolence and passive resistance were prominent tactics of protesters and organizations. But they were not the only ones, and the number of protesters who were ideologically committed to them was relatively small. Although the name of one of the important civil rights organizations was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, its members soon concluded that advocating nonviolence as a principle was irrelevant to most African Americans they were trying to reach. Movement participants in Mississippi, for example, did not decide beforehand to engage in violence, but self-defense was simply considered common sense.

If some SNCC members in Mississippi were convinced pacifists in the face of escalating violence, they nevertheless enjoyed the protection of local people who shared their goals but were not yet ready to beat their swords into ploughshares. Armed self-defense had been an essential component of the black freedom struggle, and it was not confined to the fringe. Returning soldiers fought back against white mobs during the Red Summer of In , World War Two veterans likewise protected black communities in places like Columbia, Tennessee, the site of a bloody race riot. Army veteran Robert F. Students should be encouraged to consider why activists may have considered violence a necessary part of their work and what role it played in their overall programs.

Are violence and nonviolence necessarily antithetical, or can they be complementary? For example the Black Panther Party may be best remembered by images of members clad in leather and carrying rifles, but they also challenged widespread police brutality, advocated reform of the criminal justice system, and established community survival programs, including medical clinics, schools, and their signature breakfast program. One question that can lead to an extended discussion is to ask students what the difference is between people who rioted in the s and advocated violence and the participants in the Boston Tea Party at the outset of the American Revolution.

Both groups wanted out from oppression, both saw that violence could be efficacious, and both were excoriated by the rulers of their day. Teachers and students can then explore reasons why those Boston hooligans are celebrated in American history and whether the same standards should be applied to those who used arms in the s. An important goal of the Civil Rights Movement was the elimination of segregation. But if students, who are now a generation or more removed from Jim Crow, are asked to define segregation, they are likely to point out examples of individual racial separation such as blacks and whites eating at different cafeteria tables and the existence of black and white houses of worship.

Yet segregation was a social, political, and economic system that placed African Americans in an inferior position, disfranchised them, and was enforced by custom, law, and official and vigilante violence. The discussion of segregation should be expanded beyond expressions of personal preferences. One way to do this is to distinguish between black and white students hanging out in different parts of a school and a law mandating racially separate schools, or between black and white students eating separately and a laws or customs excluding African Americans from restaurants and other public facilities.

Put another way, the civil rights movement was not fought merely to ensure that students of different backgrounds could become acquainted with each other. The goal of an integrated and multicultural America is not achieved simply by proximity. Schools, the economy, and other social institutions needed to be reformed to meet the needs for all. A guided discussion should point out that many of the approaches to ending segregation did not embrace integration or assimilation, and students should become aware of the appeal of separatism. Du Bois believed in what is today called multiculturalism. But by the mids he concluded that the Great Depression, virulent racism, and the unreliability of white progressive reformers who had previously expressed sympathy for civil rights rendered an integrated America a distant dream.

Black communities across the country were in severe distress; it was counterproductive, he argued, to sacrifice black schoolchildren at the altar of integration and to get them into previously all-white schools, where they would be shunned and worse. If, in the future, integration became a possibility, African Americans would be positioned to enter that new arrangement on equal terms. Any brief discussion of historical literature on the Civil Rights Movement is bound to be incomplete. The books offered—a biography, a study of the black freedom struggle in Memphis, a brief study of the Brown decision, and a debate over the unfolding of the movement—were selected for their accessibility variety, and usefulness to teaching, as well as the soundness of their scholarship.

Walter White: Mr. NAACP , by Kenneth Robert Janken, is a biography of one of the most well known civil rights figure of the first half of the twentieth century. He was a formidable persuader and was influential in the halls of power, counting Eleanor Roosevelt, senators, representatives, cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, union leaders, Hollywood moguls, and diplomats among his circle of friends.

His style of work depended upon rallying enlightened elites, and he favored a placing effort into developing a civil rights bureaucracy over local and mass-oriented organizations.

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