The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s

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After World War II, African Americans demanded changes in American society. African Americans fought in World War II for their country, but they returned home to discrimination and inequality. In the late 1940s and 50s American society started to overturn some official discrimination against African Americans. In 1947, Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball (891) and in 1948, Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces. In 1954, the Plessey decision of 1896, which created two societies, one for whites and one for blacks, was overturned in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, creating integrated schools (894). Although the Supreme Court ruled that official school segregation was unconstitutional, blacks still faced many discriminatory laws and attitudes, especially in the South. At the beginning of the 1960s, the goal of the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., was to end legal segregation and to integrate society. His strategy to achieve these goals was non-violent protest. By the end of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement moved from integration to black separatism, and the strategy of the movement changed from non-violent methods to a militant style of protest. This change in strategy had a deep impact in the opinions and support of white people for the Civil Rights Movement.

King’s goal was to create a more equal and just society, where people of all different races could live together and have equal rights (Doc B). He wanted blacks to be able to eat at the same restaurants as whites, to ride on public buses equally and to attend the same universities (917). The Civil Rights Movement at this point emphasized using non-violent direct-action to achieve its goal of integration. The statement of purpose of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) advocated a non-violent strategy of protest based on religious ideals (Doc A). King, co-founder of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had similar...
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