THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
IN THE 1960s
YVONNE M. CANNON
February 26, 2015
HIS 114 (United States History II: 1865 to Present)
Dr. Megan Sethi
As I reflect on the history of the United States of America during the twentieth century and those accomplishments made, I am reminded that the Civil Rights Movement played the most significant role in social and political changes that continue to impact our society today. The goals of the Civil Rights Movement were to end racial segregation, to give equal opportunities in employment and equal opportunities in education to African Americans based on the 14th Amendment of the Constitution which ensured that “all persons born in the United States were citizens” and were to be given “full and equal benefit of all laws.” Initially, the Civil Rights Movement focused its attention on Blacks living in the southern states of Alabama and Mississippi. Because of his involvement in the successful Montgomery, AL. Bus Boycott of the 1950s; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a central figure that catapulted him to fame as the Leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. A major factor of the success of the movement was the strategy of the non-violent protests and Dr. King’s involvement which inspired many civic and religious leaders to lobby for change and campaign on behalf of African Americans, women and other minorities thus resulting in the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act. The provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting and firing.” (National Archives & Records). While the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were determined most significant in the social and political changes in America’s history, today, however, in the twenty-first century, racism; discrimination and injustice continue to prevail toward African Americans, women and other minorities. On August 28, 1963, along with other leaders of the Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom. The purpose of the March was to call attention to President John F. Kennedy, his Cabinet and the Congress to sign the Bill to end racial segregation of African Americans in America. It also set the stage for the passage in 1964, of the Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Over 200,000 people of diverse ethnicities, cultures, creeds and backgrounds participated, while millions watched on television. As the Keynote Speaker, King delivered his most iconic speech, “I Have a Dream” to culminate the event. In his speech, Dr. King stressed how one hundred years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1865, freeing millions of Negro slaves: “The Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.” (King, 1963). While he stressed the gravity of the situation, he also stressed a sense of hope, that day: “This is our hope. This is our faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.” (King, 1963). Dr. King spoke these words to inspire, not only the African Americans, but the World that the time was right for change. As a leader, Baptist preacher, dreamer, revolutionary man and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dr. King knew how to...
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