Civil Rights Movement (Pre and Post Periods)

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Civil Rights Movements

The Civil Rights Movement refers to the movement in the U.S. which aimed to fight racial discrimination against African Americans. From the abolition of slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution passed by the Senate on April 8th, 1864, to the Niagara Movement founded in 1905 by a group led by W.E.B Du Bois, the first part of this paper draws the background and key events of the pre-Civil Rights Movement period. Then, the second part will address a deep analysis of the Civil Rights Movement and the period after that. We will see all along this paper that often the Federal and State power confronted each others. The Southern States were the most affected by the rebellions and the Civil Rights Movement. Fred Douglas, who supported the end of slavery, played also a significant role in the pre-Civil period. From 1900s, Black equality movements started to flourish. Booker T. Washington, one of the leaders of those movements, was for the acceptation of Black segregation, where as W.E.B Du Bois and his Niagara Movement strongly opposed to this nonviolent strategy. In the mid-20th, we also see the emergence of leaders such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X.

The pre-Civil Rights Movement draws the gap between the end of Civil War (1865) and the beginning oh the Civil Rights Movement. The period is marked by the turbulent years between the Emancipation Act (January 31, 1863) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantying the rights of full-fledged citizenship to Black Americans. In 1865, the Thirteen Amendment passed by the Senate aimed to abolish the most notorious example of inhumanity in the world history: slavery. Abolition of slavery did not change the perceptions that allowed discrimination to continue over generations. Two years before, the Emancipation Act of 1863, issued by the President Lincoln which officially ended slavery, could not immediately change people’s mores or the legacy of the U.S. since it had considered Negroes as inferiors. This amendment was not well accepted by White Americans, especially in the South. To minimize its effect, the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee in1960s, began to impose terror and murder several blacks. KKK advocates White supremacy, White nationalism and anti-immigration.

The Fourteenth Amendment was also important for the Civil Rights Movement. Passed by the Congress in 1868 and called the “Great Amendment”, it states that all people who were born in the U.S., including Black Americans, are considered natural citizens and have the same rights as other White Americans. But even after that, African Americans did not have the same rights, equal access, opportunities, and economic conditions. Many Blacks continued to be treated unfairly, especially in the South. Voting right was one of the rights that has been taken away from African Americans believing that Blacks were not smart enough to vote.

To solve the problem and protect Black’s voting rights, the Fifteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1870. Sometimes, the Federal power and State power confronted each others. Some state laws were considered unconstitutional. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the state government from discriminating African American citizens the right to vote because of their race, color, or past history of slavery. This Amendment also helped for the reconstruction of the South. From the late 1860s to 1880s, the use of voting rights allowed Black Americans to gain political power and protect their rights. Many White Americans were against those amendments, in order to show their discontent, Southern states passed laws to make harder Blacks’ live. It was harder for them to vote again, some states passed laws that required taxes before voting, others asked for a reading and writing test to have the right to vote. Knowing that lot of Blacks were analphabets and had not enough money to pay the poll tax to right mixed with racist feelings,...
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