African Americans: Fighting For Their Rights
During the mid 1950s to late 1960s African Americans started responding to the oppressive treatment shown to them by the majority of white people in the country. They responded to the segregation of blacks and whites during that time and the double standards the African Americans were held to. African Americans responded to their suppression by participating in boycotts, marches, sit-ins, and trying to get legislation passed so that they could overcome their degrading situation. They were successful in many of these actions and through them brought around more rights for African Americans.
Boycotts were a major way that the African Americans got their voices and wants heard. The most famous boycott was probably the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, Martin Luther King Jr., urged the people of Montgomery to boycott the bus system. African Americans didn’t want to be considered substandard to white people, and they didn’t want to be forced to be subservient to them on buses. They didn’t think it was fair that they had to sit in the back of buses and give up their seats to white people. As King put it, “[…] there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression” (King 347). Because African Americans were ready to do something to support their rights they followed King’s advice to “ […] work with grim and firm determination to gain justice on the buses in this city [through boycotting]” (King 348) The Montgomery bus boycott made the public transportation system realize how important African Americans were to the transportation system. The combined effect of loss of money and pressure from around the country created a victory for the African American Civil Rights movement. The boycott lasted 382 days, until the law allowing racial segregation on buses was lifted and white people and African-Americans were able to sit wherever they wished to on buses. There were also boycotts of businesses where the segregation of African Americans was still very prevalent. Many of these boycotts were successful. The boycotts caused enough financial difficulties that the segregated businesses either had to close or integrate. Diners where African Americans had to sit separate from white people or where African Americans weren’t served at all were boycotted against as well until that diner served African Americans and allowed them to sit wherever they wanted and with whomever they wanted. Diners also faced the difficulty of sit-ins if they refused to serve African Americans. In Greensboro, North Carolina, a black college student named Joseph McNeill was refused service at the counter of a restaurant. The next day he and three of his friends came and sat at the lunch counter waiting to be served. They weren’t served that day. The four of them returned to the lunch counter each day, but were never served. The students were aware each day that they came to the lunch counter that they would probably not be served, but “they were also aware that this form of nonviolent protest could be a powerful method in accomplishing the desegregation of lunch counters” (McElrath 1). Then, an article in the New York Times, brought notice to this sit-in and many other students joined in on the sit-in. This started a chain of sit-ins around the country to protest the ill-treatment of African-Americans. Despite many hardships, including being beaten and doused with Ammonia, more people kept showing up at these demonstrations. The sit-ins were effective in the fact that restaurants either served the African-Americans at the counter, or closed down. In one case a restaurant took out all of the chairs in the restaurant so that no one could be served anywhere, which ended up causing him to have to close down. In addition to sit-ins, there were also kneel-ins at churches where African-Americans were not allowed to...
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