The Civil Rights Movement in 20th Century America

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The Civil Rights Movement
Until the 1950s, African Americans had experienced discrimination in all aspects of their lives. They were no longer slave, but they were definitely not equal citizens. During the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans, along with a number of other racial groups, embarked on a campaign to change this situation. This campaign challenged discrimination and fought to achieve the objective of equality that the American constitution promised for its entire people. It composed a number of significant groups, individuals and events to fulfil this vital objective. It was known as the Civil Rights Movement. Significant Groups

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 by WEBB Du Bois. Along with Booker T Washington, an ex-slave, Du Bois was one of the early crusaders for equality. The NAACP published its own newspaper and set out to defeat the ‘Jim Crow’ laws. They defeated laws that segregated housing in Louisiana and helped establish the right for African Americans to sit on juries. The NAACP paved the way for future groups, such as CORE, to end racial discrimination. WEBB Du Bois and Booker T Washington were both for ending racial discrimination although they had conflicting views. Booker T Washington believed African Americans needed to prove they were worthy of equality by becoming economically independent. WEBB Du Bois did not agree with this. In the words of Dudley Randall (source 4), ‘For what can property avail, if dignity and justice fail? Unless you help to make the laws, they’ll steal your house with trumped up clause.’ This presents the conflicting views that would have caused dispute amongst the African American people of the time. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was an American Civil Rights organisation that played a vital role in the Civil Rights Movement. They were motivated through the belief that ‘all people are equal’ and the methods of non-violence preached by Martin Luther King. Their ultimate objective, which they are working on still to this day, is to achieve true equality throughout the world. This inequality that they were working against is reiterated in source 3, which shows the vast differences in the African American primary schools in comparison to the white primary schools. The African American primary school is run down and underfunded whilst the white primary school is pristine and clean. This source emphasises the difference in resources and how the African American children weren’t deemed important enough for sufficient resources. During the 1950s and 1960s, CORE participated, and in some cases pioneered, significant events such as the Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer and the March on Washington. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded by Martin Luther King, played a large role in the Civil Rights Movement. Their campaign involved non-violent protests in the form of boycotts, demonstrations, and marches against the denial of civil rights to African Americans. They initiated non-violent movements and campaigns in Albany, Chicago, Grenada, Birmingham, Selma and Washington. The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was another principal organisation of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The SNCC played vital roles in the various ‘sit-ins’, freedom rides and marches with the biggest of their contributions being the famous March on Washington. Its non-violent strategies were a reflection of Martin Luther King’s philosophy and the methods he stood for. "A final SNCC legacy is the destruction of the psychological shackles which had kept black southerners in physical and mental peonage; SNCC helped break those chains forever. It demonstrated that ordinary women and men, young and old, could perform extraordinary tasks." – Julian Bond. In the later 1960s the SNCC focused on ‘Black Power’ (A movement among Black Americans emphasizing racial pride and social equality) and began to broaden its...
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