History and Fate of the Civil Rights Movement Research Paper

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Freedom and Equality in the 20th century


Two Primary Methods against Segregation Policies

The Civil Rights Movement of African-Americans in the United States, also called the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, consisted of mass actions, aimed at ending racial discrimination and segregation against them (Tavaana, 2015). At the same time, it aimed at acquiring legal recognition and federal protection of their rights as citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution and federal law. The Movement was particularly active in the South between 1954 and 1968 (Tavaana).

The two primary methods used by the Movement in pursuing its ends were non-violent protests and civil disobedience (Tavaana, 2015). These and other campaigns were forms of civil resistance. They triggered crises and induced the holding of meaningful talks between them and government authorities. These initiatives were effective in the federal, state, and local levels of government as well as businesses and communities. The initiatives pressured these sectors to immediately respond to each situation. African-Americans took strong advantage of this response to bring out the inequality they suffered from (Tavaana).

These protests and acts of civil disobedience were mostly in the form of litigation and boycotts (Tavaana, 2015). Its initial and inspiring success was its legal victory in the Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education in 1954. This decision was against the separate white and colored school systems. The most popular boycott was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, which centered on Rosa Parks, in Alabama. Sit-ins were also successful, such as the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960 in North Carolina. Marches, such as the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 in Alabama, were also notable (Tavaana).

II. Two Catalysts to Modern Civil Rights Movement

One was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (NPS, 2015). This was a televised mass demonstration against racial violence, the federal policy on desegregation of higher educational institutions, and th passive resistance movement by Blacks in the early 1960s. This led to the second catalyst, the adoption of the landmark legislation, Civil Rights Act of 1964 (NPS).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is regarded as the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in American history (NPS, 2015). It vested strong enforcement powers on the government in the field of civil rights. It outlawed tactics to limit voting and job discrimination against race, color, religion, gender and national origin. It guaranteed equal access to public accommodation to racial and religious minorities. It served as the continuation of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. And it created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (NPS).

The earlier 1957 Civil Rights Act established a separate and independent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (NPS, 2015). Its function was confined to fact-finding but its reports helped by serving as the foundation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This 1964 legislation enlarged the authority of the Commission.

III. Two Goals of the Movement and Limits

These goals were to put an end to racial segregation and discrimination against African-Americans in the United States and to obtain legal recognition and federal protection of their citizenship rights, which are contained, guaranteed and protected by the American Constitution and federal law (Civil Rights 101, 2001).

The nature of the Movement appeared to change by the mid-60s (Civil Rights, 101, 2001). Blacks themselves who were united in support of Movement activities began to develop varying viewpoints on what political initiatives should be undertaken to fulfill their common goals. Different groups within the movement itself expressed increasing disagreement with other internal groups. Militant and radical groups, such as the Black Muslims and the black power advocates, objected to the movement's limited goals and its anti-violence stand (Civil Rights 101).

Many of the new members of radical groups sought black separation or nationalism from the white population instead of integration and unification with it (Civil Rights 101, 2001). These new members demanded more than civil equality. They cried out for social and economic equality with the whites. They also questioned the appropriateness of non-violence. They refused to accept whites in the movement. An example of such groups is the SNCC, which in 1966, became an all-black group (Civil Rights 101).

Even in the late 60s, African-Americans still experienced many disadvantages, such as higher poverty rates than whites (Civil Rights 101). A consequence is the corresponding persistence of racially motivated violence. An example is the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. himself…

Sources Used in Document:


AAO (n.d.). The civil rights era. Part I, African-American Odyssey. Retrieved on February 21, 2015 from http://www.memory/oc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart9.html

Civil Rights 101 (2001). Civil rights expanded: contemporary effects. The Leadership

Conference. Retrieved on February 21, 2015 from http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights.101/erexpanded.html

Foner, E. (1997). Expert report. Diversity Matters: University of Michigan. Retrieved on February 21, 2015 from http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/admissions/legal/expert/foner.html

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