Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

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					Teaching the Civil Rights Movement
 Which of the following statements offers the best
  interpretations of the civil rights movement?
 A. The American South had a long tradition of racial
  oppression, but during the civil rights movement, the
  weight of American institutions - the presidency, the
  judicial system, the media, the American sense of fair
  play--were finally brought to bear on the problem,
  leading to remarkable changes in southern race
 B. Far from being the solution, American institutions
  have always played important roles in the creation and
  maintenance of racism. What happened in the
  movement was that civil rights activists were able to
  maneuver around those institutions to alleviate some of
  the system’s worst features.
Problems with the traditional
 1. Placing so much emphasis on national
  leadership and national institutions minimizes the
  importance of local struggle and makes it difficult
  for students for appreciate the role of “ordinary”
  people played in changing the country.
 For example the great emphasis on national
  leadership, on the church, and legal institutions.
    the emphasis on the church has included a focus on
     morality - which oversimplifies the motives of actors
    Gender bias
 2. The top-down perspective distorts the
  complexity of the black community - its
  class, gender, regional and ideological
   It also presumes that the most important
    historical markers have to do with
    legislative/policy changes.
   It implies that the movement can be
    understood solely through large-scale,
    dramatic events.
 3. The concentration on the period between
  mid-1950s and the mid-1960s (the
  Montgomery to Memphis) framework
  negates the significance of the long
  struggle for equality and the shifting
  constraints that confronted African
The Great Migration
 Q. Did the migration stimulate a national
  movement for civil rights?
    Many Americans began to realize that segregation and
     discrimination were no longer uniquely Southern
    The rise of black neighborhoods in northern and
     western cities compounded the problems of
     segregation and discrimination and
    Allowed for the flowering of African-American cultural
     movements such as the Harlem Renaissance of the
     1920s and 1930s.
More Voices
   One Way Ticket (Langston        Migration Series
                                    (Jacob Lawrence)
   I pick up my life,
    And take it with me,
    And I put it down in
    Chicago, Detroit,
    Buffalo, Scranton,
    Any place that is
    North and East,
    And not Dixie.
   I pick up my life
    And take it on the train,
    To Los Angeles, Bakersfield,    See http://www.pbs.org/gointochicago/
    Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake     (section “Art and Poetry) for complete
    Any place that is                the poem, images, and other resources.
    North and West,
    And not South.
“New Negro” Protest and Pride
 Harlem Renaissance
     Anti-lynching campaign
     Fights against residential segregation
   UNIA (1914)
   ABB (1917)
   Pan-African Congress (1900, 1919)
   Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (1925)
     Pullman Company
     A. Phillip Randolph
Black Protest during the Great
 NAACP and W.E. B. Du Bois
   Voluntary vs. involuntary segregation
 National Negro Congress (1936)
   Economic democracy and unionization of black workers
   A. Philip Randolph elected president
 “Don’t buy where you cant work” campaign (1932-
   New York stores
   Baltimore A&Ps
   Washington DC businesses
Highlander Folk School
 Myles Horton
   Son of a Tennessee sharecropper
 Wanted a school where
  the curriculum was about activism.
   A place where coal miners, steel workers, and
    mill workers could go to learn how to organize.
 Committed to an interracialist/egalitarian
   Participatory democracy
Rising Expectations: World War II and
African-American Protest Politics

 March 1941, Randolph proposed a new
  civil rights strategy: a massive march on
  Washington D. C.
 Three demands:
   The immediate end to segregation and discrimination in
    federal government hiring.
   An end to segregation of the armed forces.
   Government support for an end to discrimination and
    segregation in all American employment.
         What did the MOWM want?

“When this war ends, the people want something more than the dispersal of equality and
power among individual citizens in a liberal, political democratic system.
They demand with striking comparability the dispersal of equality and power among the
citizen-workers in an economic democracy that will make certain the assurance of the good
life - the more abundant life - in a warless world...Thus our feet are set in the path toward
[the long-range goal of] equality - economic, political and social and racial.
Equality is the heart and essence of democracy, freedom and justice. Without equality of
opportunity in industry, in labor unions, schools and colleges, government, politics and
before the law, without equality in social relations and in all phases of human endeavor, the
Negro is certain to be consigned to an inferior status.
There must be no dual standards of justice, no dual rights, privileges, duties or
responsibilities of citizenship. No dual forms of freedom...But our nearer goals include the
abolition of discrimination, segregation, and jim-crow in the Government, the Army, Navy,
Air Corps, U.S. Marine, Coast Guard, Women's Auxiliary Army Corps and the Waves, and
defense industries; the elimination of discrimination in hotels, restaurants, on public
transportation conveyances, in educational, recreational, cultural, and amusement and
entertainment places such as theaters, beaches and so forth.
We want the full works of citizenship with no reservations. We will accept nothing less.”
WWII Protest Politics
 Double V Campaign                   The Zoot Suiters
       “Regarding the Double V       “The Zoot-Suit and Style
        Campaign see                   Warfare”
                                      “Zoot Suit Riots” at
                                        Zoot suit riots, 1943
                                        Mexican national
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
 Fellowship of Reconciliation (1914)
 James Farmer
 Est. in April 1942 on the University of Chicago
 The creation of CORE marked the beginning of a
  mass movement for civil rights.
 May 1942 began non-violent “sit-down”
    Interracial founders committed to Ghandian techniques
     of “nonviolent direct action”
    Their tactics provided an important example for later
     civil rights activists.
Beyond Brown… “with all deliberate
Barbara Johns
   Led student walk-out April 23, 1951
Virginia pioneers “massive resistance” strategy, 1956
   With the powerful political machine of Senator Byrd VA put
       together the most effective resistance strategy
           GA made it a felony for a state or local official to spend
           funds on desegregated schools
           Miss and LA made it illegal for children to attend racially
           mixed schools
      The “massive resistance” strategy of VA authorized the
           closing of any public schhol ordered to desegregate and
           approved state-supported tuition grants for white
           “private” schools.
      In late 1958 and early 1959 officials closed schools in
           Norfolk, Charlottesville and
Massive Resistance
 In 1959, local
  officials closed the
  public school
  system of Prince
  Edward County,
 What happened in
  Loudoun County?
Emmett Till (1941-1955)
   “Emmett Till and the Impact of
    Images” see www.npr.org
       Site contains various relevant
        web resources, including Jet
        Magazine photos.
   http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till
       Great site for documents and
        images regarding Emmett Till’s
        murder. See “Reactions in
 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/am
Montgomery Bus Boycott
   The Rosa Park Myth
   Why is it problematic - what is obscured?
   Baton Rouge
   E.D.Nixon
   Rosa Parks
     Highlander Folk School
     Septima Clark
 Jo Ann Robinson
     De-centering men -- debunking another myth
Who are these Women?
 March 2, 1955   December 1, 1955
Student Activism and the Emergence of a Mass
Movement, 1960-1965

 Focus: Students developed new strategies and
  revitalized old ones that help to escalate the civil
  rights struggle and broaden its base. Their tactics
  included sit-ins, freedom rides, jail-ins, boycotts,
  voter registration drives, and marches.

 Goal: To help students understand how/why the
  involvement of students transformed the movement.
 Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-in (Feb. 1, 1960)
 Consider the following statement by journalist Louis
  Lomax, "They [the sit-ins] were proof that the Negro
  leadership class, epitomized by the NAACP, was no longer
  the prime mover in the Negro's social revolt. The
  demonstrations have shifted the desegregation battles
  from the courtroom to the marketplace.“
 See “Greensboro Sit-ins: Launch of a Civil Rights
  Movement” at http://www.sitins.com/index.shtml. Site
  contains photographs, documents, and audio clips from
  Greensboro participants and civil rights leaders.
Ella J. Baker (June, 1960)
“Bigger than a Hamburger”
   The Student Leadership Conference made it           It was further evident that desire for
    crystal clear that current sit-ins and other         supportive cooperation from adult
    demonstrations are concerned with                    leaders and the adult community was
    something much bigger than a hamburger or
    even a giant-sized Coke.                             also tempered by apprehension that
   Whatever may be the difference in approach           adults might try to "capture" the
    to their goal, the Negro and white students,         student movement. The students
    North and South, are seeking to rid America          showed willingness to be met on the
    of the scourge of racial segregation and             basis of equality, but were intolerant of
    discrimination - not only at lunch counters,         anything that smacked of manipulation
    but in every aspect of life….                        or domination.
   By and large, this feeling that they have a         This inclination toward group-centered
    destined date with freedom, was not limited
    to a drive for personal freedom, or even             leadership, rather than toward a
    freedom for the Negro in the South.                  leader-centered group pattern of
    Repeatedly it was emphasized that the                organization, was refreshing indeed to
    movement was concerned with the moral                those of the older group who bear the
    implications of racial discrimination for the        scars of the battle, the frustrations and
    "whole world" and the "Human Race."                  the disillusionment that come when
   This universality of approach was linked with        the prophetic leader turns out to have
    a perceptive recognition that "it is important       heavy feet of clay….
    to keep the movement democratic and to
    avoid struggles for personal leadership."
Student Activism and Direct Action
Choosing to participate-Choosing to stand up

 Student Sit-ins -- A break with the past
      The beginning of a mass southern “movement”
      SNCC vs SCLC
      Ella Baker
Ella Baker
   SNCC
   Ella Baker
       1940s (NAACP);1950s (SCLC); 1960s (SNCC)
       “Baker left the SCLC after the Greensboro sit-ins. She
        wanted to help the new student activists and organized a
        meeting at Shaw University for the student leaders of the sit-
        ins in April 1960. From that meeting SNCC was born.”
         Different leadership style than MLK
              Believed in organizing not mobilizing
              Believed in “group centered leadership” vs “leadership-centered
              “civil rights” vs. “American democracy”
SNCC: What do we want?
   Q. What is the basic goal of SNCC?
   A. To change society so that the have-nots can share in it.
   Q. What is SNCC’s basic goal, that makes it unique?
   A. The NAACP, Urban League, etc., do not CHANGE society, they want
    to get in. It’s a combination of concern with the black goal for itself and,
    beyond that, with the whole society, because that is the acid test of
    whether the outs can get in and share in equality and worth. By worth, I
    mean creativity, a contribution to society. SNCC defines itself in terms of
    the blacks but is concerned with all excluded people.
   Q. Has there been a change in SNCC’s goal over time?
   A.During the sit-in movement, we were concerned with segregation of
    public accommodations. But even then we recognized that that was only
    a surface goal. These obvious “irritants” had to be removed first; this
    was natural. Some people probably thought this in itself would change
    race relations; others saw deeper.
A Movement in Transition: SNCC
 SNCC went through three stages.
 First: 1960 to 1963 (Sit-ins and Freedom Rides)
 Second: 1963 to 1964 (Freedom Summer) A time of transition
  which sparked a reconsideration of nonviolence
 Nearly 1,000 volunteers worked in Mississippi that
  summer. During those months, 6 people, were killed, 80
  beaten, 35 churches burned, and 30 other buildings bombed.
 Third: 1965 to 1967. A trip to Africa by several SNCC leaders,
  discussions with and about Malcolm X, and growing alienation
  between blacks and whites inside SNCC was capped by the
  Watts riot in August, 1965. The following June, "Black Power"
  became SNCC's battle cry in a march led by James Meredith
  in Mississippi.
Freedom Rides
The Freedom rides a CORE project with strong support from
   SNCC when buses forced to stop in Alabama
The Freedom Riders left Washington DC on May 4, 1961.
   They were scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17,
   the seventh anniversary of the Brown decision. The
   Freedom Riders never made it to New Orleans.
Significance: They forced the Kennedy administration to take a
   stand on civil rights, which was the intent of the Freedom
   Ride in the first place. In addition, the Interstate Commerce
   Commission, at the request of Robert Kennedy, outlawed
   segregation in interstate bus travel in a ruling, more specific
   than the original Supreme Court mandate, that took effect
   in September 1961.
Freedom Songs of the Civil Rights
 Bernice Johnson Reagan
   Student of Septima Clark
   SNCC
   Sweet Honey in the Rock
 “In congregational singing you don’t sing a song - you raise it. By
  offering the first line, the song leader just offers the possibility, and
  it is up to you, individually, whether or not you pick it up or not…it
  is a big personal risk because you will put everything into a
  song…Organizing is not gentle. When you organzie somebody, you
  create great anxiety in that person because you are telling them to
  risk everything….When you get together at a mass meeting you sing
  the songs which symbolize transformation, which make the
  revolution of courage inside of you…..you raise a freedom song.”
  Reagan, 1989
 December 1961, the Birmingham City Commission closes the city’s 67
     parks, 38 playgrounds, and 4 golf courses rather than integrate.
 Step 1. April 3, 1963, King’s “Birmingham Manifesto’ and sixty-five
     blacks staged sit-ins in five stores --Police Commissioner Bull
     Conner dragged twenty of them away to jail.
     April 10 demonstrators paraded before city hall and picketed the
     stores --Connor piled 300 into jail.
 Step 2. April 13th “Good Friday” - Protestors march to City Hall for
     “Kneel in”
     King jailed. More demonstrations follow.
     April 16, 1963, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”
     MLK “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging
     darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” …comes a time when the cup of
     endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged
     into the abyss of despair. I hope sirs, you can understand our
     legitimate and unavoidable impatience
 Step 3. May 2, 1963 (D-Day) Large demonstration of more than student
     protesters began a march from 16th street Baptist Church. They
     were arrested. The mass protest continued.
Birmingham: cont…
On Sept. 15, 1963, the all-Black Sixteenth Street Baptist
   Church was bombed. Sunday school was in session.
 Handout:
    “Ballad of Birmingham”
 Websites:
    http://cnnstudentnews.cnn.com/2001/fyi/lesson.plans/0
     5/02/church.bombing/ Includes Lesson Plan
    http://www.nbpc.tv/hbcu#map
Ballad of Birmingham
   "Mother dear, may I go downtown           She has combed and brushed her
    Instead of out to play,                    night-dark hair,
     And march the streets of Birmingham       And bathed rose petal sweet,
    In a Freedom March today?"                 And drawn white gloves on her small
   "No, baby, no, you may not go,             brown hands,
    For the dogs are fierce and wild,          And white shoes on her feet.
    And clubs and hoses, guns and jails       The mother smiled to know that her
    Aren't good for a little child."           child
   "But, mother, I won't be alone.            Was in the sacred place,
    Other children will go with me,            But that smile was the last smile
    And march the streets of Birmingham        To come upon her face.
    To make our country free."                For when she heard the explosion,
   "No, baby, no, you may not                 Her eyes grew wet and wild.
    go,                                        She raced through the streets of
    For I fear those guns will fire.           Birmingham
                                               Calling for her child.
   But you may go to church instead          She clawed through bits of glass and
    And sing in the children's choir."         brick,
                                               Then lifted out a shoe.
                                               "O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
                                               But, baby, where are you?"
Significance of events in Birmingham
  1. Signaled a profound change in the direct-action campaigns in the South.
  As Bayard Rustin put it in 1963:
  For the black people of this nation; Birmingham became the moment of truth. The
  struggle from now on will be fought in a different context... For the first time, every
  black man, woman and child, regardless of station, has been brought into the
  struggle. Unlike the period of the Montgomery boycott... the response to
  Birmingham has been immediate and spontaneous. Before Birmingham, the
  great struggles had been waged for specific, limited goals. The Freedom Rides
  sought to establish the right to eat while traveling; the sit-ins sought to win the
  right to eat in local restaurants; the Meredith case centered on a single Negro's
  right to enter a state university. The Montgomery boycott, although it involved fifty
  thousand people in a year-long sacrificial struggle, was limited to attaining the
  right to ride the city buses with dignity and respect. The black people now reject
  token, limited or gradual approaches. The package deal is the new demand.

  2. Birmingham moved Kennedy to action.
  Announced that a new Civil Rights Bill would be presented to Congress on June
  http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/johnfkennedycivilrights.htm Site
  includes transcript and audio of JFK’s June 11, 1963 speech.
Freedom Summer

   Mississippi -- summer of 1964
   Successes: The Mississippi
    project established fifty
    Freedom Schools to carry on
    community organizing.
   Significance: The events of
    Freedom Summer deepened
    the division between those in
    the civil rights movement who
    still believed in integration and
    nonviolence and others,
    especially young Afro-
    Americans, who now doubted
    whether racial equality was
    achievable by peaceful means.
Freedom Schools
 Within the community
  organizing tradition
 Purpose: “to fill in an
  intellectual and creative
  vacuum in the lives of
  young Negro
  Mississippians, and to get
  them to articulate their
  own desires, demands
  and questions…to stand
  up in classrooms around
  the state and ask their
  teachers a real question.”
The Legacy of Freedom Summer
 "What [the Summer Project] achieved more
  than anything else, I think, it exposed the
  system—from top to bottom," Dave Dennis,
  the Mississippi Director of the Congress of
  Racial Equality in 1964.
Transformation of the Civil Rights
 The myth -- the 1964 Civil Rights Act and
  1965 Voting Rights Act are seen as the
  final chapter in the southern civil rights
 The Acts established legal guarantees
 Problem: the struggle more complex
 Example: school desegregation
New Directions: 1966-68
 Focus: The changing face of the civil rights
 Goal: Help students understand why the
  expectations created by the civil rights
  movement met with frustration in the mid-
  1960s and how their disappointment and
  frustration aroused a new urgency among
  black civil rights activist.
A new King
   Have students identify the ways in which Martin Luther King, Jr. is portrayed in the
    mass media, and specifically, which of his ideas are communicated to the public.
   1966: King in Chicago
   1967: Poor People’s Campaign
   In his words: “Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups
    seldom give up their privileges voluntarily we know through painful
    experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must
    be demanded by the oppressed.”
   “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our
    nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”
   “A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of
    war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning
    human beings with napalm, of filling our nation痴 homes with orphans and
    widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples
    normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields
    physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled
    with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to
    spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is
    approaching spiritual death.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the War
                                      So I was increasingly compelled to see the
                                       war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it
                                       as such. Perhaps the more tragic recognition
                                       of reality took place when it became clear to
                                       me that the war was doing far more than
                                       devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It
                                       was sending their sons and their brothers and
                                       their husbands to fight and to die in
                                       extraordinarily high proportions relative to the
                                       rest of the population. We were taking the
                                       black young men who had been crippled by
                                       our society and sending them eight thousand
                                       miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast
   “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to         Asia which they had not found in southwest
    Break Silence” By Rev. Martin      Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been
                                       repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of
    Luther King 4 April 1967           watching Negro and white boys on TV
    http://www.hartford-               screens as they kill and die together for a
    hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html      nation that has been unable to seat them
    or                                 together in the same schools. So we watch
                                       them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a
    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/   poor village, but we realize that they would
    speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.   never live on the same block in Detroit. I could
    htm                                not be silent in the face of such cruel
                                       manipulation of the poor.
Stokely Carmichael “What We Want”
September 22, 1966
“One of the tragedies of the struggle against racism is that up until now there has been no
      national organization which could speak to the growing militancy of young black people
      in the urban ghetto. There has been only a civil rights movement, whose tone of voice
      was adapted to an audience of liberal whites. It served as a sort of buffer zone
      between them and angry young blacks. None of its so-called leaders could go into a
      rioting community and be listened to. . .
 For too many years, black Americans marched and had their heads broken and got
      shot. They were saying to the country, ‘Look, you guys are supposed to be nice guys
      and we are only going to do what we are supposed to do - why do you beat us up, why
      don’t you give us what we ask, why don’t you straighten yourselves out?’ After years
      of this, we are at almost the same point - because we demonstrated from a position of
      weakness. We cannot be expected any longer to march and have our heads broken in
      order to say to whites: ‘come on, you’re nice guys.’ For you are not nice guys. We
      have found you out. . . .
 Black power can be clearly defined for those who do not attach the fears of white America
      to their questions about it. We should begin with the basic fact that black Americans
      have two problems: they are poor and they are black. All other problems arise from
      this two-sided reality: lack of education, the so-called apathy of black men. Any
      program to end racism must address itself to that double reality. . . .
For racism to die, a totally different America must be born…..”
Black Power and the Black Panthers
   October 1966 (H. Newton & B. Seale)
   BP Ten Point Program
       Rethinking Schools
The Legacy of MLK
 Which of the following best reflects your
  understanding of the role of MLK in the civil rights
 A. Dr. King was the main force behind the civil
  rights movement.

 B. The course of the movement was influenced by
  a great many people, among whom Dr. King was
  perhaps the most visible and best known to those
  outside the movement.
Why debunk the myths?
 “I think that knowledge of the past is vital
  but historical knowledge is not an end in
  itself. The more we learn about the past,
  the more we must recognize that we learn
  about it in order to bring a more humane
  society into being in this country.
  Otherwise, historical knowledge is
  meaningless.” James Farmer
Please note this presentation is for workshop
purposes only.
Please address all source inquiries to the
presenter: Wendi N. Manuel-Scott

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