Civil Rights Movement (1940-1969)

The Civil Rights Revolution: minorities fighting for their rights as American citizens. Activists persistently fighting against discrimination so that their children can have equal rights and experience equality

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Mug Shot of Freedom Riders.

After World War II African American veterans began to protest racism in America. Suburban’s were formed in the late 1940s, due to racial covenants African Americans were forced to remain in the cities. Corporations relocated from the cities to the suburbs as a result, unemployment in the cities skyrocketed. The Cold War was a period of intense competition between the Soviet Union and the United states. The American government felt we should lead every nation in the world ideologically (an ideology is a body of ideas). In the 1950s white Americans were given government aid. Blacks did not receive assistance because they were African Americans. The civil rights movement began; African Americans started protesting against segregation. In the 1960s organizations began staging peaceful protests many of these protests ended in violence. As a response to police brutality The Black Panther party was formed. They considered themselves a militant organization. The party supported violence as a means of protection from the harsh brutality of the police and white Americans. President Johnson passed legislation in support of The Civil Rights Movement. His contribution to the movement was essential to its success.

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World War II Veteran Affairs

African American World War II veterans came home stronger and united ready to fight for racial equality. After all they risked their lives just the same as white Americans. White Americans opposed integration beating, sometimes killing African Americans. The Ku Klux Klan rose again in the 1940s committing 500 acts of Klan sponsored violence.< (pg. 727 Becoming America Vol. 2) President Truman rallied African American votes: by desegregating the army(1948), and outlawing racial covenants which were contractual agreements prohibiting the sale of property to a certain group of people, Thanks to the African Americans vote President Truman won the election 1948. President Truman continued to create laws against discrimination using a strategy he called “Fair Deal” which is a plan would guarantee equal rights for all citizens. Neither southern democrats nor republicans supported racial equality; therefore, his programs were underfunded deemed ineffective.(pg.735 Becoming America Vol. 2) The G.I Bill  that was passed in the year 1944 paid for veteran’s tuitions and granted them home loans. It also included job placement assistance as well as vocational training sites. The Veteran Affairs ruling in 1945 restricted minorities from receiving these benefits. Only 2 African Americans received a home loan out of three thousand veterans in the state of Mississippi in 1947. (pg. 741 Becoming America Vol. 2)

The Suburbs effects on Cities.

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In the year 1950 a little over half of American people lived in the suburbs. The mass production of these suburban homes allowed home buyers to purchase the home at a lower price; unfortunately, suburban communities would not sell homes to African Americans. It was assumed the Negro presence would lower the mortgage value of their homes. Cities with a high minority population tended to be “redlined” by the federal government. “Redlined” cities were communities whose value did not increase. Red lined city dwellers were denied a mortgage regardless of their income. White Americans living in urban cities used federal mortgage benefits to move to suburban neighborhoods. This was labeled “White Flight”. (pg. 742 Becoming America Vol. 2)

Unemployment Skyrockets

As White Americans moved from these cities major companies such as Ford Motor and General Motor relocated to the suburbs as well. They shut down their factories and left tens of thousands jobless. Another major cripple to cities was the loss of tax revenue. High levels of unemployment caused thousands of minorities trapped in the city to not pay their taxes, leaving the community in poverty. (pg.741 Becoming America Vol. 2)

Cold War Influence on Civil Rights

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The Cold War was a conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States over which ideology is more effective. Both countries did not go to war with each other because of fear of being annihilated by nuclear bombs. So these nations attempted to rally third world countries to either support democracy or communism. Americans were considered hypocrites to these countries because Americans were attacking and oppressing citizens in their own nation. In order to generate support for democracy over communism in third world countries the federal government needed to prove to these nations that America is truly “The land of the free”. Mid 1950s the federal government advised the federal court system to outlaw Jim Crow therefore supporting civil rights.

America by the People, For the (White) People. 1950s

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The 1950s is considered The Golden Age in American history. White Americans and African Americans lived in the same country, but completely different worlds. Blacks were kept from the suburban homes, vast variety of food and shopping centers, and especially the well-paying jobs. While these practices were legal in the south, the north practiced de facto segregation : racial segregation that occurred “by fact” but was not the law. These discriminatory practices caused civil rights organizations to focus their efforts on the judicial system. This strategy proved effective,in 1954 when segregation in schools was out lawed, in the Brown V Board of Eeducation case. This law was put to the test when nine African American students were denied access into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas President Eisenhower; who had ignored the subject of racial inequality during his presidency, sent eleven thousand federal troops to enforce the law for The Little Rock Nine. President Eisenhower’s response ignited a flame in the 1950s that carried into the 1960s and became known as “The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s is generally categorized under events that contributed to African American equality in American society. Popular activists at this time were Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcom X worked to fight for civil rights as did literary sensation Harper Lees. Beloved professional athletes, singers, and musicians, all had their  part in The Civil Rights Movement.

The Black Panther Party

Young African Americans were attracted to the party because it supported violence as a means of protection from whites. Their main goal politically was “a United Nations supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate…” The party fell apart due to shootouts and confrontation with other black militant groups.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr protested segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. One of these protests involved African American children ages 6-18. These children marched while singing “We Shall Overcome”. The second day of the march Birmingham police used dogs and high powered hoses to attack the children.  Media coverage of the attack sparked outrage amongst suburban Americans and African Americans alike. This crisis led the nation to support desegregation. President Kennedy gave orders to begin writing a Civil Rights Legislation. Nations across the world witnessed the brutality of the Birmingham police men.

Fannie Lou Hammer delivered her testimony on the 22nd of August 1964. She was a sharecropper and timekeeper for 18 years. She was thrown off her land for registering to vote. She and five other individuals were arrested coming from a voter registration workshop (June 9th, 1963). Three white men entered Fannie Lou Hammer’s cell. They took her to a cell where two other black male prisoners were. The policemen told both black men to beat Fannie with a “blackjack” while she was lying face down on the bunk. When she screamed one white man began to beat her in the head. For full details of her testimony (click here)

Fannie Lou Hammer and the Birmingham crisis are examples of the brutal, mental and physical abuse peaceful protestors were subjected too.

The NAACP, SCLC, and the Congress of Racial Equality (the latter lead by James Farmer) staged more peace walks and acts of civil disobedience (breaking of a law citizens feel is unjust). Many of these acts resulted in injuries and casualties, brought on by white segregationist (supporters of segregation) and white supremacist.  In spite of this injustice activists continued to fight for African American rights their unwavering bravery attracted black celebrities and citizens across the country to join the cause.

Lyndon B Johnson and The Civil Rights Movement

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I commend President Johnson on all levels. This man looked at African Americans and saw a people worthy of respect as American citizens, and human beings period. His predecessor President Kennedy began the civil rights legislation; President Johnson passed the bill through the use of Americans raw feelings toward President Kennedy’s assassination (November 22, 1963).  Johnson went on to pass other bills in support of civil rights reform. On February 9 1965 President Johnson met with Martin Luther King Jr, by the end of their meeting he promised immediate passage of the Voting Rights Act. His passion to promote equality between black and white Americans was unwavering throughout his presidency. For full information on this legislation click here.

African Americans and American Society (11/6/2014)

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Today African Americans are reaping the benefits of what Frannie, Lou Hammer, W. E. B Du Bois, the sharecroppers, the WW II veterans, civil rights activists, and Black Panther pledges sown.

Government August 26, 2014

In the 113th Congress there are forty two African Americans in the House of Representatives. In the Senate there are two African Americans.

The Supreme Court has elected two African American men, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

President Barack Obama has served two terms as president of the United States.

Got equality? Yeah, in a way we do.

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Opportunities

In terms of legality, there is nothing black people cannot accomplish in America based on their race. Present day African Americans are given opportunities that were not permitted before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Due to brilliant civil rights activists, a willing president Johnson, the Cold War, and thousands of black and white Americans, minorities now possess equal rights and protection of the law.

Half Way There

Though African Americans have made great strides in America since Reconstruction, race is still a factor of poverty. 27.4% of African Americans live below the poverty line.  The average salary of a African American family in the year 2010 was $39,715, the average salary of white Americans that same year was $61, 138. Achieving civil liberty in the governmental system was only half the battle. Americans are racially segregated, police brutality and discrimination still occur. In the words of Frannie Lou Hammer “And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave,”

Resources

  1. http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/the-24th-amendment-definition-summary-history-court-cases.html#lesson
  2. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=100
  3. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/affirmativetimeline1.html
  4. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-rights-book/chapter5-2.html
  5. http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%260BL%2BR\C%3F%0A
  6. http://www.bostonfairhousing.org/timeline/1920s1948-Restrictive-Covenants.html
  7. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_fairdeal_1.html
  8. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revolution
  9. http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/lbjforkids/civil_timeline.shtm
  10. http://stateofworkingamerica.org/chart/swa-income-table-2-5-median-family-income/
  11. enkin, David, and Rebecca McLennan. Becoming America Volume II From Reconstruction. Vol. II. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
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