During the mid 1960s, "highly public demonstrations" (525) became more popular and gained momentum among the community because popular and significant individuals close to the cause supported them. The power and attention these protest garnered illustrated just how serious African-Americans were in achieving their goals. The protests proved to the people that they could do more than they thought they could. They could accomplish things even though they were not in power and even while they suffered at the hand of oppression. Confidence and hope in one's generation was something very positive that emerged from the Civil Rights Movement.
The protests were good in that they empowered the people but this does not mean that they were without negative effects. Violence was one of the negative outcomes of the civil rights movement. Violence was never the goal during any civil rights gatherings or protests. Morris believes that from the beginning of the movement, African-Americans attempted to avert violence and that Emmett Till's lynching is important because a "generation of young Blacks who would lead the student wing of the modern civil rights movement was coming of age precisely at the time of Till's lynching" (Morris 522). The event and the trial's result "radicalized" (522) them, in Morris' opinion. While King and others tried to teach others about the importance of non-violence, there was too much tension in the air to expect no violence at all -- especially after King's murder. The Detroit riots in 1967 were some of the worst the country has seen. They represent the amount of tension and strife in the air during this time in the country. King was dead and the country was experiencing the "most sensational expression of an ugly mood of nihilism and anarchy that has ever gripped a small but significant segment of America's Negro minority" (Time). "Some Negroes, to be sure, were among the most insistent in demanding that the police start shooting looters. But the eruption, if not a "civil rights" riot, was certainly a Negro riot. It was fed by a deep well of nihilism that many Negroes have begun to tap. They have despaired finally -- some this summer, others much earlier -- of hope in white America" (Time). Violence always emerges from mob mentality and it is incredibly difficult to avoid when tensions run high. While violence did overtake some demonstrations and lives from this movement, it should be realized that violence never controlled this movement.
The Civil Rights Movement was one marked with hardship and victory. African-Americans understood what it meant to be enslaved and they also knew what it was like to live in a country where all men were said to be free but treated very differently. Their struggle demonstrates the very strength of the human spirit. Because they did not give up, they were able to realize their dream. What we learn from their plight is that things take time. We also learn that one person can make a huge difference -- even when it does not look that way. Rosa Parks was simply making a stand for what she knew was right in her heart. Had she not followed that inclination, many may have missed that inspiration. The Civil Rights Movement brought Americans together and it shows how deep the yearning for freedom runs in our American veins.
Bailey, Thomas and Kennedy, David. The American Pageant. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company. 1994.
Carmichael, Stokely. "Black Power," Black Protest. Joanne Grant, ed. New York:
Ballentine Books. 1968. Print.
"Cities: The Fire This Time." Time Magazine Online. Web. February 2, 2011.