My Research Question• Did Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech or the violence in American cities have more to do with African Americans getting Civil Rights in the United States?
THE VIOLENCE IN AMERICANCITIES, 1963
• Nowadays you think of the police officers and firefighters as people who would never harm you for no reason, and as people you can trust. However, when the peaceful marchers and protestors gathered in the heavily segregated cities in the South, they found that the exact opposite was true.
In many Americancities includingDanville, Virginia,Cambridge, Maryland,and Birmingham,Alabama, nonviolentAfrican Americanmarchers andprotestors were met bypolice brutality.
• The year 1963 was filled with nonviolent demonstrations by African Americans and supporters that were turned violent by the whites that were living in the South. In the summer of ’63, over 30 homes and churches were bombed or burned, at least 10 people were killed, and more than 20,000 demonstrators were arrested.
• Police officers and citizens were violent towards not only the protestors, but also towards bystanders that were African American. They shocked them with cattle prods, unleashed police dogs onto them, sprayed them with high pressure fire hoses, and beat them with clubs. These acts were shown on newscasts around the nation, which brought attention to the wrongdoings and gained sympathy from viewers.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Protest in Birmingham• As leader of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), King chose Birmingham to have protests in because he thought if they could end segregation there they could end it anywhere• Both adults and children were brutally attacked by police forces and citizens• The police officers that used brutality on the demonstrators were encouraged by a local judge who prohibited the marches• Hundreds of demonstrators were jailed
• The demonstrations in Birmingham turned violent after the home of Martin Luther King Jr.’s brother and the motel where King stayed were bombed.• Demonstrators started burning buildings, and stoning police officers and passing cars – A nine-block portion of the city was burned• When the demonstrators had requested federal protection, the president had announced that no federal agency could act. When the black demonstrators stoned white police officers and other white people, federal troops were dispatched within hours
Medgar Evers• On June 12, 1963, 37-year-old Mississippi NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) field secretary Medgar Evers is murdered by a sniper right outside his home.• After his murder he was given martyr’s rights, and his family was greeted at the White House by President Kennedy• The man who murdered him was not declared guilty of murder until 1994
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing• On September 15th, 1963, a bomb went off at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This church was well known as a place for civil rights meetings.• Four girls named Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were killed by the bomb while attending Sunday school.• Following the bombing, riots broke out all across Birmingham. This led to the death of two more African Americans.
THE MARCH ON WASHINGTONAND THE “I HAVE A DREAM”SPEECH
• The March on Washington was the largest civil rights demonstration ever• It took place on August 28, 1963• Thousands of people attended, both blacks and whites.
Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?• January 15, 1921- April 4, 1968• Civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and an amazing public speaker – Had a huge impact on the African American Civil Rights Movement – Organized nonviolent protests to protest the segregation and unfair treatment of African Americans in the United States
MLK Jr. (continued)• Helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Nonviolent protest group; African American civil rights organization – Led to the March on Washington – This is where he gave the famous “I Have A Dream” speech
“I Have a Dream”• Delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963• In the first two paragraphs of the speech, he speaks about how even one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln, the African Americans are still not free – “One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”
“I Have a Dream”• Other points in the speech included: – The African Americans still did not have access to the rights of the Constitution – Even though they are American citizens they are “exiled in his own land” – “This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."” – They still live in immense poverty because they cannot get adequate jobs
“I Have a Dream”• He compares the lack of justice to a check marked “insufficient funds” – “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt” – “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”• He says that the time for justice is Now and that there is no more time to delay giving the African Americans the rights they have long deserved
“I Have a Dream”• He mentions that if anyone thinks that the African Americans “needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual” and “And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights”• He reminds the African Americans that they must not resent or distrust the whites despite what they have done to them; “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force”
“I Have a Dream”• They must not give up until they have all of the same rights as the white people• Some mentioned: – Lodging in hotels – No more only living in the ghetto – No more degrading of the children by the signs that say “Whites only” and things like that – Voting rights – End to brutality and no justice
“I Have a Dream”• He says he has a dream that: – “one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” – “one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” – “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – “one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” – “one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
“I Have a Dream”• He ends the speech with: – With faith, the brutality and unfairness can be changed into brotherhood between the races – “Let freedom ring” – “Thank God Almighty we are free at last”
Interviewed: My grandpa Jim and grandma NancyORAL HISTORY
Q: Did you know any African Americans in 1963?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• Yes • Yes
Q: What was your relationship with them?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• No close relationships with • They were my teammates any, just casual on sports teams, and relationships. everyone on the team got along very well and they were all friends.
Q: Can you think of any events that changed these relationships?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• There was racial tension all • No, it did not change. They over the country because of were all very close despite what was happening in what was happening other places nationwide. elsewhere.
Q: How did you experience this change?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• I knew a girl in high school, • There were no changes. and she was very nice and there was no racial tension between her and everyone else. But when we came back for the reunion, she wouldn’t talk to a single person.
Q: Did you know anything about the March on Washington or MLK?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• I remember it happening, • (didn’t ask this question) watching the coverage on TV.
Q: Did you know about any instances of discrimination or violence concerning race relations?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• Nothing specific, but yes. • I had a close friend that I was travelling with that was discriminated against at a bar and at a restaurant. The people working at the entrance would not let him in and the rest of us brought food out and ate on the bus with him.
Q: Did this change your relationship in any way?Grandma Nancy Grandpa Jim• No, the relationship was not • No, but it was horrible to close enough. watch and it’s hard to look back on the way they treated him.
Civil Rights Act of 1964• Sixth-grade education was established as a presumption of literacy for voting purposes• Segregation and discrimination in places of public accomodation were outlawed• Public facilities (parks, playgrounds, libraries, ect.) were desegregated• The attorney general was authorized to file school desegregation suits• Discrimination was outlawed in all federally assisted activities• Discrimination by employers or unions with 100 or more employees or members was outlawed• The attorney general was authorized to intervene in private suits in which persons alleged denial of equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment
Research Question Answer• The conclusion that I have made from my research is that both the violence in American cities and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech had significant impacts on African Americans gaining civil rights, to the point where it is hard to tell which had a bigger impact. However, the speech and the March on Washington where it was presented had the bigger impact. Thousands of people were a part of it in person and many more saw it happen on the television. It gained more national attention than the violence, even though the riots and violence gained a lot of sympathy and attention too. The publicity leads directly to the passing of the Civil Rights Act happening sooner.