Civil Rights Movement
African-Americans did not share
in the promise and prosperity that
followed World War II, and most
white Americans seemed unaware
of this! African-Americans will
step up efforts to end the system
of segregation that divided the
United States into two separate
and UNEQUAL societies, ONE
BLACK and ONE WHITE
Barriers to Civil Rights
Segregation laws (Jim Crow)
Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
The Path to Civil Rights
Brown v. Board of Education
landmark decision of the United States
Supreme Court, which overturned earlier
rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in
1896, by declaring that state laws that
established separate public schools for
black and white students denied black
children equal educational opportunities.
Handed down on (May 17, 1954,) the Warren
Court's unanimous (9-0) decision stated that
"separate educational facilities are
Video clip: Brown v.
Board of Education
On December 1, 1955 in
Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age
42, refused to obey a bus driver’s
order that she give up her seat to
make room for a white passenger.
This was a policy in the South
regarding bus transportation.
Parks' action sparked the
Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political
and social protest campaign started in 1955
in Montgomery, Alabama, intended to
oppose the city's policy of racial segregation
on its public transit system.
This caused deficits in public transit profits
because a large percentage of people who
used the public transportation were now
The ensuing struggle lasted from December
1, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and led to a
United States Supreme Court decision that
declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws
requiring segregated buses unconstitutional.
Video clip: Bus
Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine were a group of African-
American students who were enrolled in Little
Rock Central High School in (1957).
The ensuing Little Rock Crisis, in which the
students were initially prevented from entering the
racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor
Orval Faubus, (used Natl. Guard to keep them out).
President Eisenhower intervened by sending in
the 101st Airborne Division to escort the student
into school, this is considered to be one of the
most important events in the African-American
Civil Rights Movement.
Video clip: Little Rock
Lunch Counter Sit-in
Sitting for Justice: Woolworth’s Lunch Counter
On (February 1, 1960), four African American
college students sat down at a lunch counter at
Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, and
politely asked for service. Their request was
refused. When asked to leave, they remained in
their seats. Their passive resistance and peaceful
sit-down demand helped ignite a youth-led
movement to challenge racial inequality
throughout the South.
Video clip: Lunch
Freedom Riders - 1961
Supreme Court had ruled that segregation in interstate
transport was illegal
The Civil Rights group CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality)
organized “Freedom Rides” to test whether southern states
were complying with the law.
In May of 1961, 7 Blacks and 6 Whites boarded 2 busses in
Wash. DC and headed south.
A white mob attacked the Freedom Riders in Alabama – as the
bus left town, it was firebombed, the passengers were beat as
they fled the bus. Passengers on the other bus also beaten!
The Freedom Riders abandoned this effort – taken over by the
SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee “snick”)
took over the cause.
Fed. Gov. Steps in
Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal
marshals to Jackson, Mississippi. But Jackson
officials arrested them anyway. They suffered
physical abuse while in custody.
Interstate Commerce Commission issued clear
rules stating that busses and terminals involved
in interstate travel must be integrated.
CORE proclaimed these efforts as a victory for
the Freedom Rides.
Meredith Enrolls at Ole Miss
James H. Meredith was the first African-
American student at the University of
Mississippi, (October 1, 1962) an event that was
a flash point in the American civil rights
movement. The state's governor viciously
opposed his enrollment, and the violence and
rioting surrounding the incident caused
President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops
to restore the peace. Meredith graduated from
the University of Mississippi in 1963
Video clip: James
Steel-mill town with a long history of bigotry!
The SCLC decided to focus attention there in (1963)
Segregation in nearly every aspect of public life!
Between 1956-63 18 unsolved bombings in black
King, SCLS forces, and local Birmingham activists
conducted lunch-counter sit-ins and street
demonstrations. / many were arrested including KING
To step up action, youths joined in the demonstrations
Police efforts to stop them included attack dogs and
high pressure fire hoses.
Results of Birmingham
Media captured the scenes of peaceful protestors
being knocked down by the fire hoses – seen on tv
and in the papers: Americans were SHOCKED not
aware that the South would go to these extremes!
The protests and the national attention marked a
The city stepped back from the confrontation
An accord was reached: public facilities were
King: “The most magnificent victory for justice we’ve seen in
the deep South”!
March on Washington Aug. 1963
Organized by the leaders of the country’s major
civil rights organizations.
On Aug. 28 more than 250,000 people marched
in Washington: The largest political gathering
ever held in the U.S.!!! [ this included 60,000
Marchers included students, entertainers, and
celebrities (Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson);
MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Lead to support for the passage of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964
Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States
launched in (June 1964) to attempt to register as many
African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which
up to that time had almost totally excluded black voters.
Well over 1,000 out-of-state volunteers participated in
Freedom Summer alongside thousands of black
Mississippians. Most of the volunteers were young, most
of them from the North, most of them were white and many
Many of Mississippi's white residents deeply resented the
outsiders and any attempt to change their society. State
and local governments, police, the White Citizens' Council
and the Ku Klux Klan used murder, arrests, beatings,
arson, spying, firing, evictions, and other forms of
intimidation and harassment to oppose the project and
prevent blacks from registering to vote or achieving social
Over the course of the ten-week
Over the course of the ten-week project:
four civil rights workers were killed
four people were critically wounded
eighty Freedom Summer workers were beaten
one-thousand people were arrested (volunteers
thirty seven churches were bombed or burned
thirty Black homes or businesses are bombed
Results of the Summer:
Though Freedom Summer failed to register
many voters, it had a significant effect on the
course of the Civil Rights Movement.
Before Freedom Summer, the national news
media had paid little attention to the
persecution of black voters in the Deep
South and the dangers endured by black civil
rights workers, but when the lives of affluent
northern white students were threatened the
full attention of the media spotlight was
turned on the state.
Video clip: Freedom
Civil Rights Act
(July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of
legislation in the United States that outlawed
racial segregation in schools, public places,
Barred unequal application of voter
Prevented discrimination by government
agencies that receive federal funding.
Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels,
restaurants, theaters, and all other public
accommodations engaged in interstate
Was an African American Muslim minister, public speaker,
and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a
courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a
man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for
its crimes against black Americans. His detractors accused
him of preaching racism and violence. He has been
described as one of the greatest and most influential
African Americans in history.
Made a rude comment concerning Kennedy and was
censured by the Nation of Islam causing tension and he
overshadowed the leaders of the Nation of Islam
After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X spoke before a
wide variety of audiences in the United States.
Tensions increased between Malcolm X and the Nation of
Islam after he left.
The Nation of Islam and its leaders began making threats
against Malcolm X both in private and in public.
On February 21, 1965, in Manhattan
a man rushed forward and shot him in the
chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other
men charged the stage and fired handguns,
hitting him 16 times.
Those charged and convicted were members
of the Nation of Islam
The Selma to Montgomery marches were three marches in
1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the
American civil rights movement.
The first march took place on March 7, 1965 — "Bloody
Sunday" — when 600 civil rights marchers were attacked
by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas.
Only the third march, which began on March 21 and lasted
five days, made it to Montgomery, 54 miles away.
The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery
Voting Rights Trail.
The March to Montgomery had a significant impact on public opinion.
Within five months of the third march, President Lyndon Johnson
signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Video clip: Selma
Voting Rights Act passed
outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had
been responsible for the widespread
disenfranchisement of African Americans in the
the Act prohibited states from imposing any
"voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or
standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or
abridge the right of any citizen of the United States
to vote on account of race.
Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice
of requiring qualified voters to pass literacy tests
in order to register to vote, a principal means by
which southern states had prevented African-
Americans from exercising the franchise.
Black Panther Party
Was an African-American organization established
to promote Black Power and self-defense through
acts of social agitation.
The group's political goals were often
overshadowed by their confrontational and
militant tactics, and by their suspicions of law
enforcement agents. The Black Panthers
considered them as oppressors to be overcome
by a willingness to take up armed self-defense
From the beginning the Black Panther Party's
focus on militancy came with a reputation for
Martin Luther King Jr. Dead
At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, a shot rang out. Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., who had been standing on the balcony
of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN.
Violence and controversy followed. In outrage of the
murder, many blacks took to the streets across the
country in a massive wave of riots. The FBI investigated
the crime, but many believed them partially of fully
responsible for the assassination.
King's main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights
in the United States, which has enabled more Americans
to reach their potential. He is frequently referenced as a
human rights icon today.
Video clip: MLK Jr.