There were many Civil Rights movements throughout the years of the 1950s, and onward into the 1960s and 1970s. Many African Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr., protested for civil rights equal to whites, complete removal of racial segregation and discrimination, and the right to vote. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, and overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” principle (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.769). The 1954, Brown v. Board of Education case resulted in helping, with progress for equal treatment of African Americans, and years more of campaigns and protests. A year later, in 1955, a 14-year-old African American male was beaten and shot, killed. The photos that were released of Emmett Till ignited protests in the North, and lots of money began pouring into the NAACP’s fund, and Emmett Till’s death transformed the Civil Rights Movement (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell p.770-771).
Along with the Brown v. Board of Education case and Emmett Till’s murder, there were two other events that occurred during the progression of civil rights. From 1955-1956, the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, and brought a new strategy of nonviolent protest to the Civil Rights Movement (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell p.772). In 1957, the Little Rock Nine integrated a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, becoming the focus of a national crisis. By the early 1960s, there came sit-ins where students across the United States protested the segregation in lunch counters. The main purpose of the sit-ins was to bring attention to an unjust law. During the early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement spread across the country to way, far south to end legalized segregation, and in 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality organized the Freedom Rides, which was an attempt by volunteers to travel the South by bus to desegregate bus waiting rooms. Although Freedom Rides continued through the summer of 1961, the organizers of Freedom Rides did not achieve their goal of receiving support from President Kennedy for the Civil Rights Movement (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.824).
Following Freedom Rides came the Birmingham Protests, when Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth led a march in Birmingham, Alabama, where both, Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth were arrested and jailed, but prompted President Kennedy to support a federal civil rights law. The Birmingham Protests made for a major victory for the Civil Rights Movement (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.825). Not long after the Birmingham Protests and the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, President Kennedy was assassinated during a parade in Dallas.
After Kennedy’s assassination, came a major turning point for the Civil Rights Movement, the Freedom Summer, an attack on white supremacy that occurred in Mississippi in 1954. The attack on white supremacy forced the government to deepen its commitment to equal rights, but soon lead to new leftist and feminist movements. With Freedom Summer, came the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed by President Johnson and prohibited discrimination in all public places, and banned segregation, this was a great victory for the Civil Rights Movement (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.830). Following the Civil Rights Act that was passed in 1964, the Voting Right Act of 1965 was passed, this law was passed after a standoff in Selma, Alabama, which is known as “Bloody Sunday” where 600 marchers headed for Montgomery to demand the right of voting. The Voting Right Act of 1965, also prohibited literacy tests and poll taxes. (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.831).
By 1968, there came a new political movement, which is known as the New Left and campaigned for and focused on civil rights, LGBT rights, gender roles, and even drugs. Along with the New Left, there were countercultures and hippies. Also in the mid-1960s, fractures were starting to be seen within the Civil Rights Movement, the fractures that were seen included the “March against Fear”, which supported the voting rights for African Americans. During this time, the black power chant began by the SNCC because they were getting tired of the nonviolent acts, and the result of this included helping pass the voting rights for African Americans.
The other fracture that was seen in the Civil Rights Movement was between men and women. Also known as the Women’s Liberation Movement, more and more women began leaving the Civil Rights Movement and joining this movement to secure equal rights for women in employment, education, and politics, as well as campaigns for the issue of sexual discrimination, reproductive rights, and equal pay. In 1966, the National Organization for Women was found and was campaigned to secure equal rights for women in employment, education, and politics. (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.837). By 1968, demonstrators carried an image of a young woman with dividing lines, like cuts throughout her body to protest how beauty pageant dehumanized women in the United States. In the late years of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement finally started to unravel, and more activists began leaving the movement and joining other organizations (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell. p.839).
Although the Civil Rights Movement was a long time of struggle for African Americans, the outcome of all the movements was what was wanted by African Americans, civil rights and a voting right. All the movements, campaigns, and protests proved them all to be effective. The movements, campaigns, and protests all put an effort toward the progression of civil rights, and the Civil Rights Movement. Of all the movements, the one that I’d say to have earned the most of all the movements is the Birmingham Protests because the protests led by Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth prompted President Kennedy to support a civil rights law, and eventually be passed by President Johnson in 1964. Although all the movements contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, the effects of the Birmingham Protests seem to be the greatest victory for the Civil Rights Movement, and all African Americans.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a history of the United States. (pp. 769-772, 824-825, 830-831, 837, 839). Pearson, 2017.