Early Civil Rights Movement

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., African American, United States Pages: 6 (2315 words) Published: February 27, 2011
How effective was the early civil rights movement in advancing black civil rights in the period 1880-1990?
Before, 1880 the black slave was part of the American culture. It continued to be part and parcel of life beyond the 19th century and into the 20th. However, the need for change became more apparent and the rise of black Civil Rights grew. Progress, at times rapidly advanced but was mainly slow and many suffered great hardships for the cause, such as Martin Luther King. He is quoted as saying “A man who won't die for something is not fit to live”; highlighting the willingness to the movement. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments are often grouped together, known as the “reconstruction amendments”. The intention was to end slavery and give former slaves some Civil Rights. However, due to the creation of “grandfather clauses”, “literacy tests”, and heavy opposition, particularly in the South, slowed the progress and advancement of Civil Rights. After the 13th amendment was passed by the Senate in 1865, slavery was abolished and the advancement of Black Civil Rights began. However, in the South “black codes” were quickly established to keep Black Americans inferior. The attitudes of the South were strong throughout the period of 1880-1990, but as the Civil Rights movement advanced particularly form 1945, they were forced to stop and listen. The war, presidencies and changes in politics all influenced the pace and eventual success of the movement. Progress was very slow and many suffered for the cause; “Between 1865 and 1965 over 2400 African Americans were lynched in the United States.” The severity of these crimes showed that something had to change, but who would help and how would the Civil Rights Movement succeed? Segregation was very apparent throughout American society, and the “Jim Crow Laws” are a prime example of how racism and discrimination was widely accepted. The Laws brought about the idea of “separate but equal”. Blacks were unable to mix with whites; “between 1881 and 1915 many Southern States passed laws… separation of white from black in trains, streetcars, stations, theatres, churches, parks…” In 1896 Homer Plessey challenged these ideas, buying a ticket for a white only compartment on a train. In the State Court he claimed on the grounds of discrimination but the Court and Judge Ferguson judged that the law was “justifiable and legal”. The case was appealed and taken to the US Supreme Court where Plessey would again find himself fighting a losing battle. The Court came to a decision under the idea “separate but equal” justifying the Jim Crow Laws. The racial social climate did not help progression of Civil Rights and no significant change was reached during the period of 1880-1945. As seen above the Supreme Court did little to aid Blacks and Southern State Courts always supported the white man. “Grandfather Clauses” were established after the 15th amendment; blacks were allowed to vote, if your grandfather had previously had it. Of course no son of a slave could vote. Furthermore, there were many radical groups throughout the South, the largest being the KKK. The Ku Klux Klan was a heavily racist and devastating group. They initially wanted to scare blacks, stopping them from voting and keeping social balance; however, when they found that this did not work they turned violent. Blacks lived in fear, many were lynched, raped, robbed, shot and humiliated. Even with the publicity of all this inhumane activity “At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men” There was however, great opposition and the emergence of Civil Rights Leaders became more apparent. The NAACP was one such organisation, founded in 1909, helping black people to reach racial equality. Possibly there greatest achievement was not reached until 1954 “separate and unequal”, the Court finally ruling that segregation was not equality. Other...
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