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The Importance Of The Civil Rights Movement

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					The Importance Of The Civil Rights Movement

In a Democracy the majority does not need any protection, because it is
the majority that has control. However, as seen throughout history, even
majorities can be cruel, and the minority needs protection from them. The
definition of civil rights is the rights belonging to an individual as a
citizen, especially the fundamentals of the 13th and 14th amendments. The
Civil Rights Movement was important to the history of the United States
and the world. It established that discrimination was unjust and would no
longer be tolerated in the country, while setting an example for
oppressed people everywhere.
The Civil Rights Movements ended segregation publicly and legally. They
redesigned the nation's social system. It changed where African Americans
could attend college, work, and even where they could take a drink from.
Many citizens united, regardless of race, to help a specific group
achieve a common goal.
The quest for official racial equality began the moment Reconstruction
ended in the late 1870s. Regardless of the Radical Republicans attempting
to aid blacks by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Ku Klux Klan
Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment
and Fifteenth Amendment, racist whites in the South ensured that blacks
remained “in their place.” Literacy tests, poll taxes, and violence kept
African-Americans away from voting booths, while conservative Supreme
Court decisions ruined any chances for social equality. The Compromise of
1877 doomed southern blacks to a life of sharecropping and second-class
citizenship.
African Americans turned to the courts to help protect their
constitutional rights. But the courts challenged earlier civil rights
legislation and handed down a series of decisions that permitted states
to segregate people of color. In the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racially separate facilities, if equal, did
not violate the Constitution. Segregation, the Court said, was not
discrimination. Black leaders such as Booker T. Washington, president of
the all black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, continued to press for equal
rights.
By the early 1950’s racial segregation within the public schools was
normal across America. Although all the schools in a given district were
supposed to be equal, most black schools were far inferior to their white
counterparts.
A black third-grader named Linda Brown had to walk one mile through a
railroad switchyard to get to her black elementary school, even though a
white elementary school was only seven blocks away. Oliver Brown, Linda’s
father, tried to enroll her in the white elementary school, but the
principal of the school refused. Brown went to the head of Topeka,
Kansas’ branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) and asked for help. Eager to assist Brown, the NAACP had
long wanted to challenge segregation in public schools. With Brown's
complaint, it had "the right plaintiff at the right time." Other black
parents joined Brown, and, in 1951, the NAACP requested an injunction
that would forbid the segregation of Topeka's public schools.
From June 25-26 1951 The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas
heard Brown's case. The NAACP argued that segregated schools sent the
message to black children that they were inferior to whites; therefore,
the schools were inherently unequal. One of the expert witnesses, Dr.
Hugh W. Speer, testified that:
"...if the colored children are denied the experience in school of
associating with white children, who represent 90 percent of our national
society in which these colored children must live, then the colored
child's curriculum is being greatly curtailed. The Topeka curriculum or
any school curriculum cannot be equal under segregation."
The Board of Education's reasoning was that, segregated schools simply
prepared black children for the segregation they would face during
adulthood. The board also argued that segregated schools were not
necessarily harmful to black children; great African Americans such as
Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver
had overcome more than just segregated schools to achieve what they
achieved.
Brown and the NAACP brought the case to the supreme courts on October of
1951. Their case was combined with other cases that challenged school
segregation involving South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. By 1952 the
courts still did not reach a conclusion. On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice
Earl Warren read the decision of the unanimous Court:
"We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in
public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical
facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the
children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We
believe that it does...We conclude that in the field of public education
the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational
facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs
and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are,
by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal
protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Supreme Court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy
for public education, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and required the
desegregation of schools across America.
The Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision did not abolish
segregation in other public areas, such as restaurants and restrooms, nor
did it require desegregation of public schools by a specific time. It
did, however, declare the permissive or mandatory segregation that
existed in 21 states unconstitutional. It was a giant step towards
complete desegregation of public schools. Even partial desegregation of
these schools, however, was still very far away, as would soon become
apparent.
Although desegregated the public schools didn’t abolish segregation, it
did help other African-American’s speak out. The Montgomery Bus Boycott
started on December 1, 1955. That was the day when the blacks of
Montgomery, Alabama, decided that they would boycott the city buses until
they could sit anywhere they wanted, instead of being relegated to the
back when a white boarded. An elderly nanny and a long time NAACP worker,
Rosa Parks was riding the bus, when a white man boarded. She was told to
move her seat by the bus driver; however she refused. The bus driver then
drove to the next stop where he knew and officer would be. Rosa Park was
then arrested. When the NAACP found out about this, they decided to
boycott the bus route. Every single African-American of city boycotted
the buses for eleven months.
We soon began to see several boycotts and race riots. Several people
engaging in the Black Power movement started to gain more of a sense in
black pride and identity as well. In gaining more of a sense of cultural
individuality, blacks demanded that whites no longer refer to them as
“Negroes” but as “Afro-Americans.” Many in the Jewish-American community
supported the Civil Rights Movement. Statistically Jews were one of the
most actively involved non-black groups in the Movement. President John
Kennedy had been the first president since Harry Truman to champion equal
rights for black Americans. The assassination of John Kennedy in November
1963 left most civil rights leaders grief-stricken. They knew little
about his successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Although Johnson had helped
engineer the Civil Rights Act of 1957 that had been a mild measure and no
one knew if he would continue Kennedy’s call for Civil Rights. Addressing
the congress and the nation for the first time as president, Johnson
called for a passage on the Civil Rights movement as a monument to
Kennedy, “Let us continue” he stated.
When people hear the term “Civil Rights” they immediately think of
African-American’s however women also suffered to gain their own Civil
Rights. The definition of women's interests in terms of individual rights
is one that informs liberal feminism around the world and represents the
mainstream of the U.S. women's rights movements.
The beginning of women's rights movements is marked by the 1848 Seneca
Falls women's convention and its resolutions calling for women's rights
to legal adult status, access to all professions, and women's suffrage
(the right to vote). Throughout most of history women generally have had
fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Women’s significanr
professions were considered to be wifehood and motherhood. However by the
20th century, women in most nations won the right to vote and increased
their educational and job opportunities. Perhaps most important, they
fought for and to a large degree accomplished a reevaluation of
traditional views of their role in society. During the 1850s, the women's
rights movement gathered steam, but lost momentum when the Civil War
began. Almost immediately after the war ended, the 14th and 15th
Amendments to the Constitution raised familiar questions of suffrage and
citizenship. (The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, extends the
Constitution's protection to all citizens--and defines "citizens" as
"male"; the 15th, ratified in 1870, guarantees black men the right to
vote.)
Starting in the 1960's, the beginning of the women's rights movement
resurged forward after being passive during the 1940's and 1950's. The
last major hurdle that was overcome was the passage of the 19th amendment
in 1920 giving women in the United States the right to vote. The Civil
rights protests encouraged the women of the 1960's to renew the push for
equal rights for women as well as minorities in educational and
employment fields. Equality in politics, both in the United States and
internationally, were also on the agenda for women's rights. The 1960's
decade was a progressive time for the Women's Rights Movement in the
United States as well as worldwide. This was mainly due to the large
number of women pushing for social reform of equal treatment for women in
all facets of life.

				
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