The Civil Rights Movement; America 1945 Onwards

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Although the civil rights era would usually be identified between 1954-1965, starting with the introduction of the “Brown” decision, in truth its roots stems all the way back to post World War II period. During the War, many black Americans had committed themselves to the American army, and as a result, the black community as a whole expected greater civil and political rights. This was aided further by the emergence of liberal ideas, and the fear the US government felt of losing respect of other countries if they continued with segregation while hypocritically declaring themselves “the leader of the Free World”. However it wasn’t until the infamous Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 that weight and emergency was given to racial issues of the time.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a 381 day-long protest in Montgomery, Alabama, that galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement and would see the involvement of 4200 African-Americans. Up to 1955, Montgomery, like other states, had laws and regulations that were discriminate towards the black community. With 60% black women working in domestics, and 50% black men working as domestics or laborers, it’s not surprising that black people earned half what their white counterparts did. All facilities were segregated; School, public facilities, houses and transpost such as trains and buses. It was in one of these buses that Rosa Parks, a respectable 42 year old seamstress and member of the NAACP, caused a controversy that would act as a catalyst to the civil rights movement.

It was on the 1st of December 1955 that Rosa Parks entered a city bus, and took her seat in the “black section” at the rear of the bus. When the seats had filled up and she was told to give her place to a white man, she adamantly refused declaring it a violation of her rights. Subsequently, she was arrested, trialed and fined $10, but the outcry by the black community of her treatment was far more significant. E.D Nixon,...
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