Civil Rights Movement
And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed
up that day when all of God’s children-black men and white men, Jews
and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants-will be able to join hands and
to sngn in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at
last; thank God almighty, we are free at last.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The civil rights movement in the United States was a political, legal, and social struggle that was organized primarily by black Americans with some help from white America. The civil rights struggle was aimed at gaining full citizenship and racial equality for all Americans, particularly the most discriminated group, African Americans, and was first and foremost a challenge to segregation. Segregation was deeply embedded in the South and was used to control blacks since the reconstruction of the South following the American Civil War. During the civil rights movement, individuals and organizations challenged segregation and discrimination by using a number of methods that included protests, marches, boycotts, and refusing segregation laws. Most historians agree that the civil rights movement began with either the Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 or the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; however, there is a lot of debate on when it began and ended. There were civil rights issues well into the 1980s.
The main tool of discrimination against blacks in the United States was segregation, often called the Jim Crow system. Segregation became common in the South after the Reconstruction when the Democratic Party had gained control of the South and started to reverse black advances made during reconstruction. Jim Crow laws emerged and effectively segregated
Bibliography: Albert, Peter J. and Hoffman, Ronald, eds., We Shall Overcome: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Freedom Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.