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The Civil Rights Movement

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The Civil Rights Movement

When did the Civil Rights movement start to surface? What were the foundations of the

Civil Rights movement? What were the successes and failures of a movement attempting to

affect social change in the 1950's and 1960's America. The intent of this research is to describe

the principal tenants of the Civil Rights movement, its success and failures, and to provide the

foundation it was built upon.

The war brought many changes during the 1940's, especially for the African-American

population. Although the military remained segregated for 1 million blacks in uniform, Blacks

made up 16 percent of the total armed forces, higher than their proportion (10 percent) of the

population as a whole (Boyer 13). As black population grew, so did the social tensions that

ended in protests and violence. Riots had broken out in Detroit, when rumors had it; whites had pushed a black woman and her baby into a lake in a city park. The result left twenty-five blacks and nine whites dead (Boyer 14). Resentment set in among the black community after the war. It was thought by the African-American community, that their race had shed just as much blood

during the war as any other race, so why shouldn't they share in the same equal rights. In 1944, Civil Rights demonstrators entered into a segregated Washington D.C. restaurant, while others marched outside with signs bearing the slogan: "We Die Together. Let's eat Together (Boyer 14)." The Roosevelt administration issued an executive order, which prevented racial discrimination in defense plants and to investigate discrimination in the work places. This early foundation paved the way for the Civil Rights movement that would eventually sweep America in the decades to come.

In the 1950's segregation in education was widely accepted throughout the U.S. It

was law in some southern states. In the early 1950's the U.S. supreme court had heard several

school-segregation cases brought on by the National Association for the Advancement of

Colored People (NAACP). On May 17th 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl,

in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruled that racially segregated schools

violated the constitutional principle of equal treatment for all citizens (Boyer 126). It was a

victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first ever-black U.S.

Supreme Court Justice. Although this ruling declared, segregation should end immediately,

groups of white segregationists created campaigns of resistance to fight integration. In 1955,

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the front of a bus to a white individual, resulting in her

arrest. The Montgomery, Alabama black community launched a bus boycott. The black

community appointed Martin Luther King, Jr., as their leader. The boycott lasted nearly a year

until 1956 when a federal court ruled unconstitutional all state and local laws upholding

segregated buses in Alabama (Boyer 129). As protests continued between the white supremacist

(A.K.A. Ku Klux Klan) and the black community, King and his followers founded the Southern

Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in a step toward freedom (Boyer 129). The Civil

Rights Act of 1957, would have been the first law since the 1870's, had it passed the Senate

Judiciary Committee. Eisenhower felt that by introducing this bill, Republicans could win black

votes that otherwise would go to the Democratic Party. The early ruling, Brown v. Board of

Education of Topeka, the bus boycott, Kings Leadership, SCLC, and the Enactment of the Civil

Rights Act of 1957 paved the way, and became the major force in organizing the Civil Rights

movement in the 1950's. This would lead to the Civil Rights roots, which would lie in the era of

the 1960's.

On Monday, February 1, 1960, four black students from the North Carolina Agricultural

and Technical College walked into a segregated Woolworth's store to purchase some supplies,

then went to the counter to be served, the waitress said, "We don't serve Negroes here (Boyer

168)." They remained at the counter all day and became what is called today as the sit-ins. The

basic idea was students went to the counter to be served. If they were served they would move

on to the next lunch, counter. If not, they would remain until they had been. This created

hundreds of protestors at the store on Friday, and the news had spread to other black colleges and

universities (Boyer 168). The Northern students got wind of this movement and they decided to

help their Southern students, by picketing local branches of chain stores that were still segregated

in the South. After several conferences of sit-ins, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating

Committee (SNCC) was formed in order to lead the sit-in effort. The protests continued, the sit-

ins became bigger, and white resistance remained in existence. In 1961, the Congress of




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