Civil Rights Era Overview


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Civil Rights Era Overview

  1. 1. Civil Rights Movement
  2. 2. Early Events • 1945—WWII ends • 1947—Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier in MLB • 1948—President Truman begins process of integrating the armed forces • 1954—Brown v. Board of Education begins process of integrating public schools • 1955—Emmett Till is murdered/Montgomery Bus Boycott begins • 1956—Browder v. Gayle ends segregation on public transportation
  3. 3. Laying the Groundwork • Civil rights movement was a grassroots movement; no central organization • Carried out by ordinary citizens • Goals & tactics varied from group to group
  4. 4. Organizations
  5. 5. NAACP • Est. in 1909; WEB DuBois=one of the original founders • Focused on challenging laws that prevented African Americans from exercising their full rights as citizens
  6. 6. Du Bois on the NAACP • “The main object of this association is to secure for colored people, and particularly for Americans of Negro descent, free and equal participation in the democracy of modern culture. This means the clearing away of obstructions to such participation… and it also means the making of a world democracy in which all men may participate.”
  7. 7. NAACP • Focused on lynching in 1920s & 1930s • Limited success due to southern senators • Later shifted focus towards ending segregation • Influential in areas of housing & education (Brown v. Board) • Made up of educated, middle & upper class African Americans & liberal whites • Accused of being out of touch w/ socioeconomic troubles of African Americans
  8. 8. CORE • Congress of Racial Equality • Est. in 1942 by pacifists • Hoped to bring change through peaceful confrontation • Demonstrations against segregation during WWII • Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, & Detroit • Led by James Farmer
  9. 9. SCLC • Southern Christian Leadership Conference • Est. in 1957 by MLK & other clergymen • Advocated nonviolent protests • “To understand that nonviolence is not a symbol of weakness or cowardice, but as Jesus demonstrated, nonviolent resistance transforms weakness into strength and breeds courage in the face of danger.” • Made up of southerners; previous civil rights organizations were dominated by northerners
  10. 10. MLK Leads the Way • Baptist preacher • Quick rise to forefront of civil rights movement • Became a symbol of nonviolence to the world • Won Nobel Peace prize in 1964 • Influenced by Gandhi of India & also Thoreau (objected Mexican-American War of 1846-1848) • Civil disobedience=nonviolent refusal to obey a law in an effort to change a law
  11. 11. MLK Leads the Way • Advised other activists • 17 rules to follow; nonviolent approach • “Be loving enough to absorb evil & understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend” • “If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back.”
  12. 12. MLK Leads the Way • Nonviolent protests were a practical strategy • Quotes from King: • “To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby oppressed become as evil as the oppressor.” • “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
  13. 13. SNCC • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, “Snick” • Student organization • Est. in 1960; Raleigh, NC • Ella Baker at SNCC meeting: “They are asking us to forget our laziness and doubt and fear, and follow our dedication to the truth to the bitter end.”
  14. 14. SNCC • MLK at SNCC meeting in regards to civil rights movement: “a revolt against the apathy and complacency of adults in the Negro community…” • Remained a permanent & separate organization • Shifted focus away from church leaders • Demanded immediate change
  15. 15. Robert Moses • SNCC leader • Harvard grad • Math teacher in Harlem, NY • Soft-spoken • Worked in Atlanta, then Mississippi • Helped SNCC become a powerful force
  16. 16. Robert Moses
  17. 17. Tactics
  18. 18. • Grew up in rural Centreville, MS • Wondered about the “white folks’ secret” • “Their homes were large and beautiful with indoor toilets and every other convenience that I knew of at the time.” • “Every house I have ever lived in was a one or two-room shack with an outdoor toilet.” Anne Moody
  19. 19. • Horrified by Emmett Till’s death • While in college she joined the NAACP and worked with CORE and SNCC • Took part in sit-ins in Jackson, MS and was jailed • Her mom begged her stop out of fear • Her brother was beaten and nearly lynched • But she continued the fight at all costs • Gains came at tremendous personal cost • Challenging white supremacy often provoked an ugly and violent reaction Anne Moody
  20. 20. • Moody (3rd from left) at a sit-in Jackson, MS in May of 1963 • Hostile crowd responded by dumping food on activists
  21. 21. Tactic of sitting down at a segregated lunch counter or other public place; if refused service they stayed in place Started in 1943 in Chicago at Jack Spratt Coffee House Popular during early 1960s Forced business owners to decide between serving protesters or risking a disruption and loss of business Sit-Ins
  22. 22. • John Lewis of SNCC on his experiences from a sit- in in Nashville, TN: • “A group of young white men came in and they started pulling and beating primarily the young women. They put lighted cigarettes down their backs, in their hair, and they were really beating people. In a short time police officials came in and placed all of us under arrest, and not a single member of the white group, the people that were opposing our sit-in, was arrested.” Sit-Ins
  23. 23. • MLK told students an arrest was a “badge of honor” • By 1960, 70K+ students had participated in a sit-in • 3,600 had served jail time • TIMELINE • VIDEO Sit-Ins
  24. 24. Freedom Rides • Boynton v. Virginia (1960)— Expanded ban on segregation on interstate buses; included bus station waiting rooms and restaurants that served interstate travelers • 1961—CORE w/ help from SNCC carried out the Freedom Rides • Designed to see if southern states would obey SC ruling
  25. 25. Violence Greets the Riders • Riders left Washington, DC on May 4, 1961 • 13 riders, both black and white • 2 interstate buses • Headed south, split up in Atlanta • Firebombed at Anniston, Alabama • Got out of bus alive, but were beaten by waiting crowd
  26. 26. Violence Greets the Riders • James Farmer (leader of CORE) called for an end to the Freedom Rides • SNCC leaders wanted to carry on • Student activist Diane Nash in response to Farmer’s concerns: “If we let them stop us with violence, the movement is dead!...Your troops have been badly battered. Let us pick up the baton and run with it!”
  27. 27. • Photos from burning bus in Anniston shocked the nation • Violence intensified in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama • Upon arriving in Jackson, Mississippi the Riders were arrested • Volunteer Riders stepped in and were also arrested • A secondary Freedom Rider movement began with 300 activists that same summer • Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to protect them • Eventually the ICC prohibited segregation in all interstate transportation Reaction to Freedom Rides
  28. 28. • INTERACTIVE MAP Freedom Riders
  29. 29. • James Meredith, an African American Air Force vet, attempted to enroll to U. of Mississippi in 1961 • He was denied access to the all-white school, but got legal help from the NAACP • The SC supported Meredith’s entrance, but Governor Ross Barnett disregarded the ruling • Pres. Kennedy used federal marshals to accompany Meredith to campus • Crowds protested and attacked the marshals’ vehicles, violence ensued, two bystanders were killed and hundreds were injured • Meredith continued to go to classes w/ aid of marshals Integration at “Ole Miss”
  30. 30. Integration at “Ole Miss” • Meredith describing his experiences to the Saturday Evening Post (1962): “It hasn’t been all bad. Many students have spoke to me very pleasantly. They have stopped banging doors and throwing bottles into my dormitory now.”
  31. 31. Integration at “Ole Miss” “One fellow from my home town sat down at my table in the cafeteria. ‘If you’re here to get an education, I’m for you,’ he said. ‘If you’re here to cause trouble, I’m against you.’ That seemed fair enough to me.” Earned bachelor’s degree in 1963 VIDEO OXFORD TOWN LYRICS
  32. 32. Clash in Birmingham • MLK & SCLC invited there in April 1963 • Birmingham’s population was 40% black • King called it “the most segregated city in America” • Working w/ Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, King called for boycotts • When asked how long he would stay, King replied, until “Pharaoh lets God’s people go.” • Police commissioner “Bull” Connor replied, “I got plenty of room in the jail.”
  33. 33. • Started w/o violence; marches & sit-ins • Courts ordered end to marches • King decided to disobey orders • Connor arrested King & others • In “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King defended his actions • After a week King was released from jail • He called on young people to join movement Clash in Birmingham
  34. 34. Clash in Birmingham • “Bull” Connor arrested 900+ young people • Police used high-pressure hoses and trained police dogs • Protesters were also beaten w/ clubs
  35. 35. Clash in Birmingham
  36. 36. • TV cameras brought national attention to Birmingham • Eventually the city’s facilities were desegregated & fairer hiring practices were instituted Clash in Birmingham
  37. 37. • A few months after the settlement tragedy struck • The 16th St. Baptist Church became a target • Training ground for activists • Meeting place for leaders, including MLK • Bombed by members of the KKK on a Sunday Morning in Sept. 1963 • Four girls were killed, and 22 children were injured • Bombers were not caught until much later Clash in Birmingham
  38. 38. The Political Response
  39. 39. Kennedy on Civil Rights • Kennedy brothers had worked to free MLK from a GA jail in October ‘60 • Helped win African American voters • JFK moved slowly on issues related to civil rights • Did not want to anger southern Democratic senators • But scenes of violence forced him to act • Race riots surrounding the Freedom rides embarrassed him when he met w/ Khrushchev in ‘61 • Responded to police brutality in Birmingham w/ television address • Same night Medgar Evers of the NAACP was gunned down in MS • Introduced a strong civil rights bill after Birmingham
  40. 40. March on Washington • Goal was to focus attention on JFK’s proposed bill • Kennedy feared March would alienate Congress & create violence • August ‘63 • 200K+ • “Jobs & Freedom” • Highlighted by King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in front of Lincoln Memorial • Peaceful & orderly • Civil rights bill remained stalled in Congress
  41. 41. Civil Rights Act (1964) • Kennedy assassinated 3 mos. after March on Washington • LBJ nothing “could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill” • Johnson let Congress know he would accept no compromises on the bill • HOR passed it; Senate stalled due to filibusters • ’64 Senate voted for cloture & forced a vote • Bill was passed
  42. 42. Civil Rights Act (1964) • 1. Banned use of different voter registration standards for blacks and whites • 2. Prohibited discrimination in public accommodations (motels, restaurants, gas stations, etc.) • 3. Allowed the withholding of federal funds from public or private programs that practiced discrimination • 4. Banned discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin by employers & unions; also created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  43. 43. Freedom Summer (1964) • Voter registration drive in MS • 1K volunteers, mostly college students • KKK held rallies to intimidate • 80 mob attacks, 3 murders that summer, 1K arrested, firebombings
  44. 44. Selma March (1965) • Police arrested blacks for just standing in line to vote • MLK & others decided to react • Walk from Selma to Montgomery, roughly 50 miles • State troopers on horseback charged into crowd
  45. 45. Selma March (1965) • TV pictures shocked viewers • LBJ put Alabama National Guard under federal control • Also used federal marshals & army helicopters • When Selma marchers started out again, supporters from all over the country joined them • 25K+ people
  46. 46. Voting Rights Act (1965) • LBJ went on national TV promising to protect voting rights • Johnson repeated “We…..Shall…..Overcome” • That summer Congress passed the Voting Rights Act • Federal officials could register voters in places where local officials were blocking registration • Eliminated literacy tests & other barriers • In 1966 over 400K African Americans registered to vote in the Deep South
  47. 47. The Movement Takes a Radical Turn
  48. 48. James Baldwin Author & Civil Rights Activist • “The Negro’s past, of…death and humiliation; fear by day and night; fear as deep as the marrow of the bone; doubt that he was worthy of life, since everyone denied it…” • “The Negro himself no longer believes in the good faith of white Americans—if, indeed, he ever could have.”
  49. 49. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Born in Omaha in 1925 as Malcolm Little • Father was a Baptist minister that supported “Back-to- Africa” campaign • Father died when he was young • Uncle was lynched • Mother put in mental hospital • Grew up in ghettoes of Detroit, Boston, NYC • In jail by age 20, served 7 years
  50. 50. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Joined Nation of Islam or Black Muslims while in jail • Preached black separation & self-help • Viewed white society as oppressive
  51. 51. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, taught that Allah would bring about a “Black Nation” • One of the keys to knowledge was knowing one’s enemy; namely white society • Black Muslims did not seek change through political means • Instead, they tried to live righteous lives & become economically self-sufficient
  52. 52. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Malcolm X was released from prison in 1952, changed his name, & quickly rose to power • Spent next 12 years as minister of the Nation of Islam & spreading ideas of Black Nationalism – Separate identity – Racial unity of African Americans • Delivered fiery speeches
  53. 53. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Malcolm X disagreed w/ tactics & goals of early civil rights movement • The “Farce on Washington” • “All of this non-violent, begging the white man kind of dying…all of this sitting-in, sliding-in, wading-in, eating- in, diving-in, and all the rest” • “No sane black man really wants integration!...No sane black man really believes that the white man ever will give the black man anything more than token integration.” – *See full quote on p. 723
  54. 54. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • In 1964, over disputes w/ Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam • Est. Muslim Mosque, Inc. • Made a pilgrimage to Mecca (holy city of Islam) in Saudi Arabia
  55. 55. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Pilgrimage had profound effect • He then wanted to work w/ other civil rights leaders, even whites on some issues • His change of heart led to new enemies though
  56. 56. Malcolm X & Black Nationalism • Shot to death at a rally in NYC in February 1965 • 3 members of the Nation of Islam were charged w/ murder • Message lived on • Influenced young members of SNCC
  57. 57. The Black Power Movement • Stokely Carmichael • Follower of Malcolm X • Became involved in SNCC at Howard University • Freedom Riders • Had beaten & jailed, grew tired of nonviolent protest • SNCC became more radical
  58. 58. Movement Splits • Greenwood, MS in 1966 • King’s followers sang “We Shall Overcome” • Carmichael’s supporters sang “We Shall Overrun” • “This is the 27th time I have been arrested, and I ain’t going to jail no more!...The only way we gonna stop them white men from whippin’ us is to take over. We been saying freedom for six years—and we ain’t got nothin’. What we gonna start saying now is ‘black power!’
  59. 59. Black Power • New slogan resonated w/ many African Americans • Encouraged immediate action • A call to “unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community…to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and support those organizations.”
  60. 60. Black Panthers • Est. in fall of 1966 • Militant political party • Founded by Bobby Seale & Huey Newton • Demanded action from federal government • Wanted African Americans to lead their own communities
  61. 61. Black Panthers • Often confrontation w/ white authorities • Newton repeated phrase from Communist leader of China, Mao Zedong, “power flows from the barrel of a gun” • Violence w/ police • “Black is beautiful” became a new slogan • SNCC & Black Panthers moved away from NAACP & SCLC
  62. 62. Riots in the Streets • De jure segregation= racial separation created by law • De facto segregation= separation created by social conditions, like poverty • De facto segregation was a fact of life in most American cities, North & South • Residents of neighborhoods viewed police officers as oppressors, not upholders of justice • “like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile country” • Riots started to flare up along east coast (NYC) in 1964
  63. 63. Riots in the Streets • Watts, LA neighborhood, August of 1965 • Beating of young African American male by white police officer sparked 6 days of riots • National guard needed to restore order • 3K+ arrests, 1K+ injured, 34 dead, $40 million+ in damages
  64. 64. Riots in the Streets • Rioting spread to other cities in following years • “Burn, baby, burn” • Kerner Commission reported that riots were explosion of anger that had been smoldering for decades • “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate & unequal”
  65. 65. Tragedy Strikes in 1968 • Achieving peaceful social change through political activism seemed hopeless • MLK had shifted focus to tackling economic problems • Poor People’s Campaign • “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. I’ve been to the mountain top. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. An d I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land.” • --April 3, 1968, in Memphis---
  66. 66. Tragedy Strikes in 1968 • The next day King was shot while standing on the balcony of his motel • His assassination sparked violent reactions • Riots occurred in 120+ cities • 50K+ troops were needed to stop the violence • Further eroded hope in nonviolent change
  67. 67. Tragedy Strikes in 1968 • RFK, presidential candidate for Democratic Party • Civil rights leader • Anti-Vietnam War • Hoped to continue brother’s legacy • LBJ had announced he would not seek another term • RFK had reached out to minorities & the poor
  68. 68. Tragedy Strikes in 1968 • RFK won key CA primary on June 4th • That night, after midnight, gave a short speech in LA hotel • Shot by an assassin, died the next day
  69. 69. Legacy of the Movement • LBJ administration brought about major changes • Segregation was illegal • African Americans began to vote by the thousands • Number of African Americans elected to high office rose dramatically • *Shirley Chisholm of NY became first black woman elected to Congress