• During the 1960’s, Americans took a
hard look at their world and were not
happy with what they saw. Through a
number of social movements, everyday
Americans challenged the status quo in
an effort to create the best of all
Civil Rights Victories
In 1954, the Supreme
Court Trial, Brown v.
Board of Education,
ruled that segregation
This verdict opened
the way for the civil
rights legislation of
Civil Rights Movement
In addition to
also waging war at
home to win basic
civil rights for
• On Monday afternoon in 1960, four black college
students walked into a Woolworth’s store in
Greensboro, North Carolina. They bought a tube of
toothpaste and some school supplies. Then they sat
down at the lunch counter and ordered coffee. “We
don’t serve colored here,” the waitress told them.
• The four men kept their seats until the store was
• The next day, they were joined by 19 other black
students. By the week’s end, 400 students, including
a few whites, were sitting in shifts at the
Woolworth’s lunch counter.
• The following week, sit-ins were taking place in seven
North Carolina cities.
• Youths in more than 100 American cities began to
conduct sit-ins in restaurants, swimming pools, and
The Greensboro Four
David Leinail Richmond, Franklin Eugene McCain, Ezell Blair Jr., Joseph Alfred McNeil
• Within a year, over 70,000 people had
participated in sit-ins and 3,600 had been
• In the deep South, protesters were beaten,
kicked, sprayed with food, and burned with
• These young protestors organized the SNCC
(Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee),
and were heavily influenced by James Lawson,
a Nashville theology student who had studied
the nonviolent philosophy of Gandhi. He
believed that love could overcome hatred.
• On May 4, 1961, a group of blacks and whites set out
on a highly publicized trip to test a Supreme Court
order outlawing segregation in bus terminals. Many
belonged to CORE and called themselves Freedom
• On Mother’s Day, outside of Anniston, Alabama, a mob
of white men carrying pipes, clubs, bricks, and knives
attacked the bus. They smashed the windows and
tossed a firebomb into the bus.
• As the bus went up in flames, the riders of the mob
were brutally beaten.
A "Freedom Bus" in flames, six miles southwest of
Anniston, Ala., May 14, 1961.
Freedom Riders Jimmy McDonald, left, and Hank Thomas
and regular passenger Roberta Holmes sit in front of the
burned-out shell of a "Freedom Bus" on May 14, 1961.
• When the second group of Freedom Riders stepped
off their bus in Birmingham, they were attacked by
another mob. There were no policemen to protect
• Several were hospitalized. One protestor
experienced a stroke that left him in a wheelchair for
the rest of his life. James Peck, a leading CORE
activist, required 53 stitches.
• Federal officials arranged for the protestors to be
flown out of Alabama, and students from Nashville
went down to finish the rides. Their bus was met in
Montgomery by an angry white mob of 1000 people,
and they were beaten without police intervention.
This made headlines around the world.
Ku Klux Klansmen beat black bystander George Webb in the Birmingham
Trailways bus station, May 14, 1961. The man with his back to the camera
(center right) is FBI undercover agent Gary Thomas Rowe.
with a Justice
and Ben Cox
plane" to New
15, 1961. Photo
• President Kennedy did not support the Freedom Rides and
tried to stop them. When he couldn’t, he charged his brother,
Robert Kennedy (attorney general) to protect these riders.
• Robert Kennedy told Southern governors if they protected the
riders, the federal government would not intervene. Otherwise,
federal troops would be sent into the South to protect them.
• Freedom Riders made it safely to Jackson, Mississippi where
they were arrested.
• 328 Freedom Riders spent time in Mississippi prisons.
• Attorney General Kennedy took the unusual step of asking the
Interstate Commerce Commission to issue regulations against
segregated terminals. In September, the commission complied,
ordering bus companies to obey Supreme Court rulings.
Integration of Ole Miss
• James Meredith tried to enroll in the University of
Mississippi in the fall of 1962. He was turned away
by Governor Ross Barnett, who vowed no black person
would attend the state’s most prestigious white
• President Kennedy sent in federal troops to ensure
his safe enrollment.
• The entire world covered the battle over Ole Miss,
and a French reporter, Paul Guihard, was shot in the
back and killed. Reporters were seen as enemies of
the Southern whites because their reports portrayed
the whites in a negative manner.
• Over 300 federal marshals were stationed around the
main building at Ole Miss. A crowd of whites was
gathered awaiting his arrival.
• The crowd attacked. By morning, Army and
National Guard troops had to be sent in as
reinforcements. Of the 300 marshals, 28 had
been shot and 130 injured. A white man, Ray
Gunter, was found dead from stray gunfire.
Within two weeks, 20,000 troops were
brought into Oxford to maintain order.
• James Meredith did graduate from Ole Miss.
His years there were marked with harassment
and alienation. He was seriously injured four
years after his graduation when he was
making a one-man march through Mississippi.
• Birmingham was known as the South’s
most segregated city.
• Because of this, Martin Luther King
became determined to end segregation.
• Martin Luther King’s Brother was a
pastor in this city, so there was a family
• When King came to Birmingham to lead the anti-segregation
boycotts and marches, many protestors, including King, were
• King composed his famous “letter from a Birmingham jail” which
addressed white ministers’ demands that he be more patient.
• He replied, “I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the
stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ “ But, he said,
“freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be
demanded by the oppressed.”
• During the Birmingham marches, it was decided to let children
participate in the marches to galvanize public support for the
• On May 3, 1963, thousands of children marched against police
dogs and fire hoses.
The jails of
A Birmingham police officer grabs Martin Luther King by the seat of his
trousers as he arrests him in April, 1963.
Jail” in which
he refuses to
any longer in
Excerpt from King’s Letter
• "When you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers
and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at
whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse,
kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when
you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro
brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the
midst of an affluent society ... when you are humiliated
day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and
"colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your
middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) ...
then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait...."
Protestors Encounter Violence
Marchers Encounter Fire Hoses, Dogs
The police chief
for using fire
hoses and dogs to
support across the
nation for the Civil
• Federal mediators were dispatched
to Birmingham to work out a
• Eventually, the business community
agreed to integrate downtown
facilities and to hire more blacks.
• June 11, 1963, Kennedy delivered his strongest civil rights
message ever. “We face…a moral crisis. A great change is at
hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that
revolution…peaceful and constructive for all.”
• Kennedy sent a comprehensive Civil Rights Bill to Congress days
• In August, 250, 000 blacks and whites marched on Washington
to show their support for passage of the bill.
• King gave his “I Have a Dream” Speech. This is remembered as
the highpoint of the Civil Rights Movement.
• The Birmingham Bombing and the assassination of Kennedy took
place two months later.
• After President Kennedy’s speech, Medgar Evers, the first
NAACP Field Secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, was shot
and killed as he got out of his car at his home. He was unloading
a stack of shirts that said “Jim Crow Must Go.” His children
were waiting up for their daddy and heard the gunshot.
• Police discovered a high-powered rifle with a telescopic sight on
the ground in some honeysuckle. An FBI investigation proved
that the fingerprints on the gun matched those of Byron De La
Beckwith, a charter member of the White Citizens Council.
• Beckwith was tried twice for murder, but both trials ended in a
• Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The day of his
funeral, the Jackson mayor hired the first black police officer.
• Evers explained his
willingness to risk his
life in the following
manner: “I am a victim
of segregation and
discrimination, and I’ve
been exposed to bitter
things have remained
with me. But I think my
children will be
different. I think we’re
going to win.”
Byron De La Beckwith Sentenced
• In 1990, a series of investigative reports in
Jackson's Clarion-Ledger, a committed
prosecutor, and the indefatigability of
Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams,
produced new evidence. The case was
reopened, and four years later, Beckwith
was convicted of murder and sentenced to
life in prison. He died in Jan. 2001 at age
In addition to attacking
supremacists also bombed a
number of African-
American churches in the
South. By 1963, over 60
black churches were
bombed. In this picture, a
church in Birmingham,
Alabama had assembled for
Sunday School. A car drove
by, and someone threw a
bomb with as many as 15
sticks of dynamite.
Bombing of 16th Street Baptist
Church in Birmingham
The bomb went off in the
basement in an
unoccupied room. The
blast, however, blew
down the hall way into a
room where children
were assembling for
closing prayer. The
church at the time of
the blast held close to
400 people, 80 of which
were children. It was
Results of the Blast
The blast from the
church crushed two
nearby cars and blew
windows out of buildings
blocks away. Football
size cement chunks
littered the basement.
Only one stained glass
window remained in the
entire church. It was a
picture of Christ leading
a group of children.
Dozens of people were hurt. At least 20 had to be taken to the
hospital for treatment. Four children also died in the blast:
Denise McNair, 11; Addie Mae Collins, 10; Carol Robertson, 14;
and Cynthia Wesley, 14.
Denise McNair Addie Mae Collins Carol Robertson Cynthia Wesley
In 1971 Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the case.
In 1977, 14 years after the bombing, Robert Edward Chambliss was
convicted of one count of murder in the death of Carol McNair.
In 1980 Jefferson County’s district attorney reopened the case after a
report from the U.S. Justice Department found that former FBI Director
J. Edgar Hoover had blocked evidence that prosecutors could have used.
In 1988 Gary A. Tucker, a former bus driver dying from cancer, admitted
in helping with the bombing. Federal and State prosecutors then reopened
their investigation into the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing.
In 2000 Former Ku Klux Klan members Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby
Frank Cherry surrendered to authorities after a grand jury indicted
them on first-degree murder charges in connection with the bombing.
In 2001 almost 40 years after the bombing Thomas Blanton Jr. was found
guilty and received four life terms. Bobby Frank Cherry was found
mentally incompetent and may never face trial.
Season of Terror
• Hundreds of college
students went to
Mississippi in the
summer of 1964.
Their main goal was to
register black voters.
They also taught in
Their goal was to
teach black children
about their heritage.
Many of these schools
were held in black
churches, and as a
result, the churches
KKK Declares War
• On May 3, 1964, White Knights Imperial
Wizard Sam Bowers issued his declaration of
war against Freedom Summer workers:
• “The event which will occur in Mississippi this
summer may well determine the fate of
Christian civilization for centuries to come.
In an Imperial Executive Order, he
commanded members to conduct
“counterattacks” against “selected individual
• Members of the South’s
most violent Klan
organization, the Mississippi
White Knights, were planning
a response. They burned 64
crosses on a single April
evening through Mississippi.
• By June the White Knights
had established 29 chapters
with approximately 10,000
Sunday, June 21, 1964
Three Civil Rights Workers Disappear
• Top officials at the US Justice
Department were notified. President
Johnson met with the parents of
Goodman and Schwerner.
• By the end of the week, 100 FBI agents
were assigned to search for the missing
• No one in Neshoba would tell the FBI
• The FBI dragged 50 miles of the Pearl
River and marched in columns through
the swamps looking for bodies.
• Agents interviewed 1000 people and
built up a 150,000 page case file.
• Finally an anonymous member of the
Klan talked in order to get the
$30,000.00 reward money.
The Truth Emerges
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner had
gone to investigate the burning of their freedom school.
They felt responsible because they had begged the
congregation to let them use the church, and then it was
burned as a result.
After they left the church, they were pulled over by Neshoba
County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price for speeding. Chaney, the
driver, was an African American who lived in the town and
helped the white civil rights workers by driving them around
the back roads.
Goodman and Schwerner were arrested for burning down the
Freedom School that day. The police said they had burned it
as a publicity stunt.
The Truth Emerges
• The three were released
from jail at 10 o’clock that
night and told to go back to
Meridian. They had not
gotten far when Price pulled
them over once again. This
time, he was accompanied by
two carloads of Klansmen.
• The three men were ordered
into the backseat of Price’s
car. Then they were taken
to an isolated spot and shot
at point-blank range. Their
bodies were deposited at a
nearby farm where an
earthen dam as under
Freedom Summer in Mississippi
By the end of 1964, 80
people had been beaten, 35
shot at, 5 murdered and
more than 20 black churches
had been burned to the
Finding the Bodies
A team of FBI agents and a hired
bulldozer moved ten tons of dirt to
uncover the decomposed bodies. Andy
Goodman had a tightly clenched fist full
of dirt from the dam. The day of his
murder was Andy’s first day in
The bulldozer operator had been hired by the Klan to scoop out a
hole for the bodies and build the dam above them.
• At a Baptist church in Meridian on August 7,
veteran CORE worker Dave Dennis rose to
speak. He said the following words:
• “I’m not going to stand here and ask anyone
not to be angry, not to be bitter tonight. I’m
sick and tired, and I ask you to be sick and
tired with me. The best way we can
remember James Chaney is to demand our
rights…If you go back home and sit down and
take what these white men in Mississippi are
doing to us…if you take it and don’t do
something about it…then God damn your souls”
Several Klansmen gave evidence to the FBI, but no charges were
brought until civil rights activists sued for the legal right to
prosecute the suspects. Finally, the US Justice Department
called a federal grand jury and won indictments against 19 men,
including police officials and klansmen, for the murders.
• On October 20, 1967, seven Klansmen,
including Samuel Bowers and Deputy Price,
were found guilty of federal civil rights
violations in the deaths of the three men.
They were sentenced to prison terms ranging
from three to ten years. Three other
defendants were freed by a hung jury, and
three were acquitted.
• It was the first time a jury in Mississippi had
ever convicted Klansmen in connection with
the death of a black person or civil rights
Two More Bodies Discovered
The bodies of two black Civil Rights workers,
Charles Moore and Henry Dee, were
discovered on July 12, 1964 in the Mississippi
River. They had disappeared in early May.
They had been killed by the Klan because the
Klan claimed that they were conspiring with
the Black Muslims to start a local armed
revolt. They were tied to a tree, beaten until
they were unconscious, bound, and thrown into
the river. It is interesting that the Federal
Government made no great attempt to find
John F. Kennedy Assassinated
November 22, 1963
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
July 2, 1964
Out of respect for JF
passed the Civil
Rights Act of 1964,
segregation in public
However, it did not
address the problem
of voting rights.
• After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed,
the movement began to focus upon fighting for
The Rise of Black Militance
During the civil rights era, there arose a
new religious movement, anchored
largely in northern urban areas. The
Nation of Islam was founded in the
United States by Elijah Muhammad.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in
Omaha, Nebraska. The son of a Baptist
minister, he dropped out of school
after being discouraged by a racist
teacher and later drifted toward a life
of crime in Boston and New York.
While serving a term in prison, he
became a member of the Nation of
Islam and a follower of Elijah
Muhammed. He took the name Malcolm
X (where the X represented, according
to Muhammed, the African surname
that would never be known).
Malcolm X quickly rose to prominence as a leader in the
Nation of Islam and among northern blacks generally.
His philosophy differed quite substantially from the
southern-born Martin Luther King. Malcolm X
emphasized black nationalism. He argued that blacks
must overcome racism and oppression "by any means
necessary." While not an advocate of violence, Malcolm
X argued that blacks must be prepared to defend
themselves from violence. He thus disagreed,
philosophically, with Martin Luther King's strategy of
"turning the other cheek" in direct action
The Death of Malcolm X
In 1964, Malcolm X and Elijah
Muhammad had a falling out
and Muhammad "cast him out"
of the Nation of Islam. This
was the product of internal
political disputes and Malcolm
X continued to be an activist.
On February 21, 1965, he was
about to begin a speech at the
Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
As he stood on the stage, an
assassin in the audience rose
and opened fire. Malcolm X
died from the gunshot
wounds. Three men -- all
members of the Nation of
Islam and followers of
Muhammad -- were arrested
and convicted for the murder.
• In 1964 the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in voter
registration. In 1965, Martin Luther King launched a massive
voter registration drive, leading 400 African Americans to the
Selma, Alabama Courthouse where they were turned away by
policemen with clubs and cattle prods.
• Over the next seven weeks, these marches continued in
surrounding towns and thousands of African Americans were
• On March 2, in the town of Marion, a mob of police officers and
white people attacked peaceful demonstrators and killed one
man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, as he tried to stop a policeman from
beating his grandfather and mother.
• King called for a march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7
in response to Jackson’s death.
Attack on Edmund Pettus Bridge
Marchers were attacked by state troopers on
horseback using teargas, clubs, and whips on
the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
• Martin Luther King asked for ministers
across the country to join in this march.
• Thousands of people from across America
joined the march to Selma after watching
the attack on the bridge on television.
• Rev. James Reeb went to Selma in March 1965. As
he and three others were returning to their hotel, they
made a wrong turn and passed in front of a rough
• A white man came out of the bar and struck Reeb in
the head with a club, yelling, “Hey, ya’ll niggers!
That’s how it feels to be a nigger down here!”
• While the White House had remained silent about
Jackson’s death, the President phoned Reeb’s wife,
and the vice-president attended his funeral.
• One of the ministers attacked with Reeb
said, “It’s a terrible thing to say, but it took
the death of a white clergyman to turn
things around. When James Reeb, a
white clergyman from the North, was killed
in Selma, people suddenly sat up and took
notice and from then on things changed in
the movement. People came from all over
the country to Selma.”
• Reeb’s death went unpunished.
• Although four white men were arrested
and indicted, it took a jury only 90
minutes to decide they were not guilty.
Four days after Reeb
died, President Johnson
delivered a Voting
Rights Bill to Congress.
In a nationally televised
speech, Johnson said
the struggle in Selma “is
part of a larger
must be our cause, too.
Because it’s not just
Negroes but really it’s
all of us who must
overcome the crippling
legacy of bigotry and
injustice. And we shall
March 25, 1965
The March to Montgomery
President Johnson intervened to facilitate the march
from Selma to Montgomery. Following a federal court
ruling on March 17th that the march could proceed,
Johnson met with Governor Wallace at the White
House, federalized the Alabama National Guard, and
sent an additional 2200 troops from the U.S. Army to
protect the marchers. On March 25th, over 3000
marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge and were
joined by thousands of others for the rally in
Marchers from across the country
cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
• Viola Liuzzo, a 39-year-
old white mother from
Michigan, used her car
to shuttle marchers
• A carload of Klansmen
spotted her Michigan
plates and noticed a
black man in her car.
They had found a target
of their hatred: an
outsider and race mixer.
The murder of Liuzzo
• Le Roy Moton was riding with her to help drive back a group of
marchers from Montgomery in March, 1965. The white men pursued
• Soon both cars were racing 100 mph down a dusty road. Finally the
Klansmen pulled alongside and, as she looked straight into his eyes, one
of the men held his arm out the window and shot her in the face.
Murder of Liuzzo
• The car crashed, and Moton feigned death
when the Klansmen came back to survey their
deeds. Moton then flagged down a truck
carrying more civil rights workers for help.
• Liuzzo’s family became victims of hate mail
and phone threats after her death. The Klan
and the FBI smeared her good name.
• A poll in Ladies Home Journal showed that
only 26% of its readers approved of Liuzzo’s
Wilkins Thomas Eaton
Three Klansmen—Eugene Thomas, William Orville Eaton, and Collie
LeRoy Wilkins, Jr.—were indicted for the murder of Liuzzo. The
fourth Klansmen in the car, Thomas Rowe, Jr., was a police informant
who had seen everything. He testified against the three at the trial.
• The first trial ended in a hung jury.
• In their second trial, they were acquitted by an all-white jury.
• Many people, including
federal officials, were
becoming frustrated at the
consistent failure of
Southern juries to convict
civil rights opponents.
• In an unusual move, the US
Justice Department decided
to bring federal charges
against the three men for
conspiring to violate the Civil
Rights of Mrs. Liuzzo.
• A federal jury found them
guilty and a federal judge
handed down the maximum
sentence of 10 years each.
• The Liuzzo case is
considered a milestone in the
history of Southern justice.
The worst blow to the
Civil Rights Movement
was the assassination
of Martin Luther King.
In March and April 1968, Martin Luther King
made several trips to Memphis in support of
the striking sanitation workers.
While in Memphis, King and his aides stayed at the
On the evening of April 3rd, King spoke at the Bishop Charles Mason
Temple, the home of the Church of God in Christ. King was introduced by
His talk that evening came to be called the
"Promised Land" sermon. He spoke in what many
termed a prophetic voice about his own death.
The next evening, the evening of April 4, 1968,
King was standing on the balcony of the motel
when he was shot and killed.
came from a
The assassin of King was James Earl Ray, a chronic criminal and
drifter. Ray was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. On one
occasion he escaped but was recaptured. Near the end of his life,
he made claims of innocence and knowledge of a conspiracy to
murder Dr. King.
The Movement Splits
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, the
divisions within the civil rights movement
increased. Former members of the Student Non-
Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) became
increasingly dubious of the "King approach." There was
debate, at times vitriolic, about whether to work from
"inside" or "outside" the system. The Nation of Islam
retained its influence. The Black Panthers gained
prominence in the urban non-South, particularly in
California and Illinois.
• Stokely Carmichael rose through the
ranks of the SNCC and eventually took
over the Washington chapter. After
being beaten and jailed, he was tired of
nonviolent protest. While King’s
supporters chanted,”We shall
overcome,” Carmichael’s chanted, “We
• He advocated BLACK POWER.
The Black Panthers
• Bobby Seale and Huey Newton formed a
new militant political party called the Black
Panthers. Newton’s motto was taken from
Mao Zedong’s words, “Power flows from
the barrel of a gun.” Panthers set up
daycares and free breakfast programs.
They also had violent encounters with the
• Their new slogan was, “Black is beautiful.”
Original six Black Panthers (November, 1966) Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man"
Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale
(Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).
In August of 1965, violence broke out in the
Watts section of Los Angeles, California. A
minor police incident escalated into five days of
arson, looting, and violence. This required a
force of 16,000 police, highway patrol, and
National Guardsmen to quell the violence. At
the end, there were 34 dead, 1,000 injured, and
4,000 in jail. Over 250 buildings were burned
(Isserman and Kazin, America Divided, p. 141)
The outbreak of such violence was repeated during the
summers of 1966 and 1967. In 1966, the cities
included were Brooklyn (NY), Chicago (Ill), Cleveland
and Dayton (Ohio), San Francisco (Cal). The unrest
spread during the summer of 1967 and included
Tampa (Fla), Boston (Mass), Cincinnatti (Ohio),
Buffalo (NY), Newark (NJ), Toledo (Ohio), South
Bend (Ind), New Haven (Conn), Chicago (Ill),
Rochester (NY), and East Harlem (NY). The worst of
the episodes occurred in Detroit, Michigan. The
governor of the state certified to President Johnson
that Michigan could not guarantee "public safety"
and, as a result, President Johnson ordered 4700
U.S. paratroopers to the city to help restore order.
The Kerner Report
• In 1968, in response to the violence in the
streets, a National Advisory Commission of
Civil Disorders was established. It was
headed by former Illinois governor Otto
• In 1968, the Kerner Commission declared that
the riots were an explosion of anger from the
ghettos caused by racism. The report said
that “our nation is moving toward two
societies, one black, one white—separate and
Overview of Civil Rights Acts
In the 1960 presidential election
campaign John F. Kennedy argued for a
new Civil Rights Act. After the election it
was discovered that over 70 per cent of
the African American vote went to
Kennedy. However, during the first two
years of his presidency, Kennedy failed to
put forward his promised legislation.
The Civil Rights bill was brought before Congress in
1963 and in a speech on television on 11th June,
Kennedy pointed out that: "The Negro baby born in
America today, regardless of the section of the
nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much
chance of completing high school as a white baby born
in the same place on the same day; one third as much
chance of completing college; one third as much
chance of becoming a professional man; twice as much
chance of becoming unemployed; about one-seventh as
much chance of earning $10,000 a year; a life
expectancy which is seven years shorter; and the
prospects of earning only half as much."
Overview of Civil Rights Acts
Kennedy's Civil Rights bill was still being debated by
Congress when he was assassinated in November, 1963.
The new president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had a
poor record on civil rights issues, took up the cause.
His main opponent was his long-time friend and mentor,
Richard B. Russell, who told the Senate: "We will resist
to the bitter end any measure or any movement which
would have a tendency to bring about social equality
and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our
(Southern) states." Russell organized 18 Southern
Democratic senators in filibustering this bill.
However, on the 15th June, 1964,
Richard B. Russell privately told Mike
Mansfield and Hubert Humphrey, the
two leading supporters of the Civil
Rights Act, that he would bring an end
to the filibuster that was blocking the
vote on the bill. This resulted in a vote
being taken and it was passed by 73
votes to 27.
Civil Rights Acts Overview
The Civil Rights Act of 1960
required that voting and
registration records be maintained
and preserved by the Civil Rights
Overview of Civil Rights Acts
The 1964 Civil Rights Act made racial discrimination in public
places, such as theaters, restaurants and hotels, illegal. It also
required employers to provide equal employment opportunities.
Projects involving federal funds could now be cut off if there
was evidence of discrimination based on colour, race or national
The Civil Rights Act also attempted to deal with the problem of
African Americans being denied the vote in the Deep South. The
legislation stated that uniform standards must prevail for
establishing the right to vote. Schooling to sixth grade
constituted legal proof of literacy and the attorney general was
given power to initiate legal action in any area where he found a
pattern of resistance to the law.
Civil Rights Legislation
• The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was ratified July 2, 1964. It was
and remains a very significant step in the African American and
women’s civil rights movements.
• Title II prohibited discrimination in public accommodations such
as restaurants and theaters because of race, religion, or sex.
Title III prohibited the same discrimination in public facilities.
• Title IV of the Act prohibited discrimination in public schools.
The failure of the South to abide by this law often led to rioting
over African American school enrollments.
Voting Rights Act
• The Voting Rights Act said that federal
officials could register voters in places where
local officials were blocking registration of
African Americans. The act also effectively
eliminated literacy tests and other barriers.
In the year after the law passed more than
400,000 African Americans registered to
vote in the deep South.
• Together, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Voting Rights Act of 1965 created an
entirely new voting population in the South.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment
The Twenty-fourth amendment to
the constitution, ratified in 1964,
barred the use of the poll tax in
Accomplishments of the Civil
• 1. Outlawed segregation
• 2. Legal/Constitutional changes ensuring
the basic civil rights of all Americans
• 3. Increased black high school and
• 4. Improved individual pride in race and
• 5. Began Affirmative Action programs
Evolution of the Civil Rights
• The early civil rights movement focused
on battling de jure segregation, racial
separation created by law.
• Modern civil rights leaders combat de
facto segregation, the separation caused
by social conditions such as poverty. De
facto segregation is a fact of life in most
American cities and in rural America.
The End of an Era
• The Civil Rights Movement lost its
momentum in 1968.
• All of its national leaders were
• Robert Kennedy would have continued
the battle, but he was killed while
campaigning for the Democratic ticket.
Assassination of Robert Kennedy
June 4, 1968, was an important but
nerve-wracking day for Robert
Francis Kennedy, senator from New
York. A week earlier he had lost a
vital race for West Coast votes in
the state of Oregon to Senator
Eugene McCarthy in the
Democratic Primary, dampening the
spirit of the Kennedy campaign.
But, now, here in California, his
supporters foresaw good things to
With the ballot boxes having closed at sunset, and the
California networks updating returns throughout the
evening, nearly 2,000 campaign workers crowded the
Embassy Ballroom, of the Ambassador Hotel in Los
Angeles; the mood was festive and the hopes high. As
the evening progressed, and the monitors showed RFK’s
numbers taking the lead, his supporters on site went
wild and started chanting for him. They wanted a
speech. They knew he was upstairs and they were
waiting for that moment when he would join the party,
flick on the podium microphones and officially announce
what they expected all day – a Kennedy Victory!
Meanwhile, RFK remained watchful, cautious.
Finally, Kennedy came down
to talk to his supporters.
After he gave a speech to his
admiring crowd, he exited
through the kitchen while
If Senator Kennedy spotted
the small, swarthy young man
approach him at all, he would
have figured he was just one
of the many hotel personnel
who wanted to shake his hand
or beg an autograph. But as
this comer neared, he leveled
a gun in Kennedy’s direction
and opened fire.
At that moment, history blurred. A .22
caliber pistol flashed and Kennedy seemed to
waver sideways. Some in the room froze at
the sound, but others, recognizing it, dodged
and ducked. The gun barked again, and in that
instant, speechwriter Paul Schrade spun to
the ground, hit in the forehead. By this time,
maitre’d Uecker had been able to catch the
shooter’s gun arm and press it down on the
steam table beside him. Nevertheless, the gun
continued to explode, a third time, a fourth
time, and more, its barrel aiming straight into
the procession. Rosey Grier, Rafer Johnson
and others struggled to disarm the assailant
and corral him.
But, in the 40 seconds it took to pry the
gun loose, all eight cylinders of the
weapon emptied. Kennedy sprawled on
the floor, spread-eagled and in pain.
Behind him, Schrade writhed. Seven-
year-old Irwin Stroll was clipped in the
kneecap; ABC-TV director William
Weisel grabbed his stomach where a
bullet had entered; reporter Ira
Goldstein’s hip had been shattered; and
an artist friend, Elizabeth Evans was
unconscious from a head wound.
Confusion and horror gripped the
onlookers, some of them speechless,
Kennedy’s Last Words
"Come on, Mr. Kennedy, you can
make it," pleaded busboy Juan
Romero, who pressed a pair of
rosary beads in the senator’s
upward palm. He bent down to
hear the victim’s barely audible
voice asking, "Is everybody all
• Sirhan Sirhan was a Palestinian who had been
pushed off his homeland by the new Jewish
state of Israel. He was angry about American
foreign policy that supported the foundation
of this state and killed Kennedy to make his
point. Psychiatrists found him to be
• Sirhan Sirhan was found guilty of murder in
the first degree and sentenced to death in
the gas chamber.
• Since California abolished the death penalty,
he is now serving a life sentence.
Democratic National Convention
• The Democrats met in Chicago in 1968
for one of the most unbelievable
Democratic Conventions in American
• After Kennedy’s death, Hubert
Humphrey became the leading
Democratic contender for the
Democratic National Convention
Months before the convention, political
activists planned demonstrations in Chicago to
share the spotlight with the Democratic
political leaders. Some groups, such as the
Yippies, came to Chicago determined to
challenge traditional political process and
authority. Tensions increased and turned into
violence when police refused to allow these
groups near the main hotels and the
As the riots escalated, Mayor Richard J. Daley
called in the troops. In total, 11,900 Chicago
police, 7,500 Army regulars, 7,500 Illinois
National Guardsmen, and 1,000 FBI and Secret
Service agents were stationed in the city.
Police and other authorities used force to keep
the demonstrators away from the delegates'
headquarters at the Conrad Hilton Hotel and
the Amphitheatre. At the end of convention
week, police announced that 589 persons had
been arrested and more than 119 police and 100
Election of Richard Nixon
• After Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, and after
Lyndon B. Johnson dropped out of the presidential
race, the two main candidates left were Republican
candidate Richard M. Nixon and Democratic candidate
Hubert Humphrey. Nixon decided that his running
mate would be Spiro Agnew, the unheard of governor
of Maryland. Nixon created a very good and tactical
campaign team that helped him to mold his
presidential campaign. Nixon and his campaign team
molded Nixon's presidential campaign around the
major issues that the United States was facing at
that time: crime in the streets, the perseverance of
law and order, and putting an end to American
presence in Vietnam.
Nixon appealed to the “Silent
Majority” of Americans who
wanted peace and order in
the streets and an end to the
Vietnam War. The Tet
Offensive had just occurred
in Vietnam, and Americans
felt that we would never win
the war. When he was
elected in 1968, it was the
end of a violent upheaval in
American History. While
Humphrey would have
continued the fight for Civil
Rights, Americans understood
Nixon’s campaign promise to
restore order as an end to
presidential support of the
Of an Era