The American Civil Rights movement- A deep analysis of factors that contributed to the movement

The factors that contributed to the the Civil rights movement

Legal battles- Legal actions played an extremely important role in achieving civil rights in the USA during the decades-long struggle against discrimination. In the 1870s in the United States, there was increasing turmoil and tensions between the whites and the coloured over the ethicality of the newly introduced Jim Crow laws after the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. During the time, when the law was first introduced, coloured people were being discriminated and the Jim Crow laws were the first of the laws that made this discrimination legal. These laws mandated that the whites and the coloured would be segregated but would receive the same quality of facilities despite the segregation. However, increasingly in the 1890s, there was an evident differentiation in the quality of facilities between the coloured and the whites which in turn angered the coloured and triggered a major part of the battle for civil rights. 

Over the course of the next 50 years, several legal measures were taken to put an end to unjust laws like these and the unfair treatment and preference for one section of society over others. To put an end to this, organisations such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) were formed to ensure the rights of the Colored. Additionally, legal action was taken against the laws that mandated racial discrimination. The first of these legal action conflicts was the case: Brown vs Topeka Board of education. In this case, Oliver Brown sued the city school for not allowing his eight-year-old daughter to attend a white school. She was forced to travel much further for an all-black school instead. As the verdict of the case, the judge of the supreme court mandated that differentiation in education was “detrimental” for children and “has no place in society”. He ordered that southern states should set up “integrated schools with deliberate speed” let there was a lot of resistance in this respect from unwilling segregated school heads, several governors of the southern states and the white people in general. There was also support from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan who supported increased violence against the blacks. Yet this was the first of the cases in which the discrimination against the blacks was condemned and small steps were taken to reduce the discrimination, at least in the field of education. After this first ruling by the Supreme Court, in the year 1954, the Little Rock High School in Arkansas was allowed 9 black students to attend an all-white school but the children were prevented from entering by the governor of the state. There was media coverage of this incident which allowed the rest of the world to witness the extent of the injustice against the black children and forcing the rest of the world to take notice of the fact that America was not the “fair, just and equal” society they claimed to be and were known for. 

Marches

The Washington March- Attended by Martin Luther King, the orator of the famous “I have a dream” speech, an address that was made on the same day as this historic march.

Another extremely significant form of protest by the coloured against the racial discrimination in America was through marches and non-violent protest led by groups such as the NAACP and other groups fighting for justice. During that time, there were two extremely well-known marches among the many that were carried out in the country. The two marches were known as the Birmingham march and the Washington March. The first of these two marches were conducted in the Southern State of Alabama in Birmingham which was organised by one of the most significant civil rights movement activists of the time, Martin Luther King. He believed that Birmingham was one of the most “discriminatory states” in the whole of America and conducted the protest there along with the Freedom Riders, another well-known organisation at the time fighting for rights who were subject to great violence and torture. During this nonviolent protest, the protesters were subject to extreme violence by dogs, electric cattle prods and were stoned. This violence was screened on the media and the government was forced to act on the violence as John F. Kennedy pressured the governor to get all of the peaceful protesters released and the people abroad strongly condemned the violence. 

Later in the year, another march was held in Washington against discrimination which was once again organised by Martin Luther King. This march received massive support after the success of the previous march with 250,000 demonstrators attending and people were more willing to fight for the cause of coloured people. During this march, Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream speech” which garnered massive attention from viewers all around the world. 

Direct Action

The Montgomery bus boycott was a political and social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. It was a seminal event in the civil rights movement. The movement began when the woman in the picture (Rosa Parks) refused to give her seat up to a white man.

One of the other significant forms of protest against discrimination in America was through direct action that was taken by the people. One of the most famous direct action movements was known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott which caused recognition and a wave of hope for all coloured citizens across the globe and primarily in America. On December 1st, 1955, a coloured woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white male and was arrested, fined and refused to stand at the back of the bus as mandated by the law. Being an NAACP member, on the day of her trial, a 24-hour protest was conducted which received massive success and was hence prolonged into a full-fledged protest. During this protest, the coloured refused to ride the public transport in the city and the Montgomery Bus Companies were forced to recognise the issue as 75% of their passengers were coloured and they had a massive loss of business. 

The boycott lasted for 381 days and became a massive success as leaders such as Martin Luther King came into prominence and more importantly, the coloured were allowed to use public transportation with the same rights as the whites by the end of the protest. 

During this time, another direct action was also taken by the citizens such as the sit-ins and the formation of the “Freedom Riders”. The sit-ins were protests that were conducted in the 1950s and the 1960s in America when four black students asked to be served at a white counter in Greensborough but were denied. Soon the number of students who were requesting food was beginning to increase rapidly and within “18 months, 70,000 students had taken part in sit-ins” and 300 had been arrested. As a result of this action, in a short span, 126 cities had desegregated lunch counters. 

The other major direct action of the time was the Freedom Riders group which were a group of people who began to ride the interstate buses after the Mongomery Bus Boycott and played an important role in eliminating discrimination and garnering support from all the coloured members in Ameria at the time. These members were faced with and subject some of the worst possible and imaginable violence from the whites and became well-known overtime for their role in the struggle against discrimination. Media screening of violence against this group also angered many during the civil rights protest. 

Actions of individuals:

During the struggle against discrimination, there were a number of significant individuals who played an essential role. Some of these individuals were Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Emmitt Till to name a few. Each of these individuals gained fame for their actions against discrimination. The first of these individuals was Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was a coloured woman who was a member of the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). She rose to fame during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in which a white man asked her to get up from her seat, but she refused. Over the next few days, was arrested and led the American Civil Rights protest all the while demanding her rights. Over the next for months, the protest gained momentum and became a bus boycott in which Rosa Parks and all the coloured citizens refused to use the public transport, which led to a massive loss for the bus companies and led to them allowing integrated public transport. For her significant work in causing and ensuring a change in society, she is known even today as the “First Lady of the civil rights movement”. 

Another important figure from the American Civil Rights movement was Malcolm X. He was an advocate of the integration of all people and different races and was the founder of the Muslim Inc. after having left the NOI. Malcolm X was one of the most influential African Americans of his time but was assassinated at the age of 39. 

Martin Luther King was arguably one of the most famous activists and political figures in the American Civil Rights movement. During his lifetime, he fought a difficult battle against segregation, leading the people America in a number of successful and well-known protests such as the Washington March, the Birmingham March and the Montgomery bus boycott along with Rosa Parks. He is also well known for his “I Have a Dream” speech that he made marking the end of the Washington March with inspired people, both coloured and white around the world to take action. Unfortunately, he was assassinated, yet his contribution to the civil rights movement will not be forgotten. 

Actions of the government:

The government played an essential role in the struggle against discrimination and segregation in America. Despite the massive efforts of the citizens to put an end to segregation, the action could only be taken due to the cooperation of the government. In America, during the time of the civil rights movement, the governments of North and South America often faced great differences in opinion among each other with conflicting perspectives. The Northern States of America were known to be far more tolerant than the Southern American states and their respective governments. During the struggle against racial discrimination, changes in ideologies and the laws of both the Northern and Southern states eventually helped abolish discrimination in America for good. 

 Factors that contributed to the progress of the Civil Rights Movement

The factor that was most significant during the Civil Rights movement, that caused massive changes in society were the marches that were conducted by a number of significant individuals. Marches were conducted by adults and students, promoting non-violent protest led by groups such as the NAACP and other groups. During the time, there were two extremely well-known marches among the many that were carried out in the country. The two marches were known as the Birmingham march and the Washington March. The first of these two marches were conducted in the Southern State of Alabama in Birmingham which was organised by one of the most significant civil rights movement activists of the time, Martin Luther King. He believed that Birmingham was one of the most “discriminatory states” in the whole of America and conducted the protest there along with the Freedom Riders, another well-known organisation at the time fighting for rights who were subject to great violence and torture. During this nonviolent protest, the protesters were subject to extreme violence by dogs, electric cattle prods and were stoned. This violence was screened on the media and the government was forced to act on the violence as John F. Kennedy pressured the governor to get all of the peaceful protesters released and the people abroad strongly condemned the violence. 

Later in the year, another march was held in Washington against discrimination which was once again organised by Martin Luther King. This march received massive support after the success of the previous march with 250,000 demonstrators attending and people were more willing to fight for the cause of coloured people. During this march, Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream speech” which garnered massive attention from viewers all around the world. 

Marches like the Birmingham and Washington marches have had great impacts on the people and will go down in history as being pivotal to the Civil Rights Movement. 

The progress that had been made in achieving civil rights by the end of 1965.

The struggle towards putting an end to discrimination through the civil rights movement in America was one that was long and tedious. While many would believe that the movement was entirely successful, others believe that only a part of the intended goal of ending discrimination was achieved when the movement came to an end. The objective of the civil rights movement was to abolish discrimination of any kind on the basis of colour and race in America and enforce laws that stood for justice of this sort. Yet, while this was achieved, even after the civil rights movement, a number of problems and issues remained for the coloured, who for centuries had been marginalised in the American Society. Due to this, as the society made the gradual transition to anti-discrimination, the African Americans still took time to integrate into society and there still remained large amounts of prejudice in society. Due to this, even after the movement, African Americans were subject to inequality in terms of job opportunities and suffered even after the movement came to an end. Over the years, the society has grown to integrate the African American people who were once a much smaller minority, yet the after-effects of the racial struggle can be seen in parts of the American Society. In the famous city of New York, even now, there remain families of African American origin who live in poor quality housing and have been stuck in the vicious circle of poverty for decades, forced into crime. This can be directly related to the segregation in the country decades before.

The Civil Rights Movement against discrimination and segregation in America was massively successful, yet the transition to an accepting society was one that took long and the effects of this slow transition can still be seen in the American society today. 

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