Success Of The Civil Rights Movement By 1963
The civil rights movement was a political, legal and social struggle
by Black Americans to gain full citizenship rights and to achieve
racial equality. After the eminent speech by Martin Luther King (in
the early 1950’s) African American men and women, along with the
whites, organised and led the movement at national and local levels.
Organising events such as non-violent protests, bus boycotting and
sit-ins. The Civil Rights movement was based in the South of America,
where the African-American population was concentrated and where
racial inequality was most obvious.
There were several incidents that challenged segregation. One of which
was an event that took place in Topeka (1954). This was the Brown
versus Board of Education. This was about the NAACP (the National
Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) taking the Topeka
education board to the Supreme Court, for denying his daughter access
to a white school. The court verdict was that segregated education was
unconstitutional, and by 1955 all states were ordered to integrate
schools, though most states ignored the ruling. As a result, lynching
and racial attacks increased in the South. Another event that took
place, challenging segregation was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This
concerned a forty-four year old, black woman called Rosa Parks, who
refused to give-up her seat to a white man and stand at the back of
the bus. Consequently, because of her ‘selfish’ act, she was arrested
and then fined $10. Her friends and family became so fed-up they
refused to use the buses. This marked the beginning of success for
boycotting because the blacks accounted for 75% of all buses. So when
other blacks agreed to use other means of transport, the Supreme Court
put a ban on segregation on buses as it was damaging the Bus Company’s
business. In addition to that, another event that happened was in
Little Rock. It was about nine students, who tried to enrol in a
school there, but instead were met by an angry mob and state troopers.
The President (Eisenhower) had to send 1000 soldiers to ensure that
the students could join the school. Eventually, the students were able
to attend it. This event proved that the Government was prepared to
force the South to desegregate education.
The movement grew into a mass movement because of the many non-violent
protests, organisations and political leaders. They attracted good
media attention, which portrayed how unjust and unfair the whites
treated the blacks. This made some of the whites think twice about
their actions and their behaviour towards the blacks. A protest that
contributed to the mass movement was the sit-ins. The basic plan of
the sit-ins was that a group of students would go to a lunch counter
and ask to be served. If they were, they’d move on to the next lunch
counter but if they weren’t, they’d refuse to move until they were
served. If they were arrested a new group would take their place. At
the same time the students always remained non-violent and respectful.
The black students would also dress-up in their best clothes. This
created an interesting contrast with the whites that came to harass
them. Another peace march that took place was the freedom rides.
Because many of the states were not obeying the desegregation on buses
order, some blacks decided to purposely ride on the buses of
Birmingham, in Alabama. Freedom riders faced the worst violence of the
civil rights campaign, and 200 were sent to prison for up to 40 days.
Eventually Patterson caved in to the tremendous pressure from the new
US President (John F Kennedy) to protect freedom riders. In addition
to the rest, the Washington Great March also contributed to the mass
movement, because of the ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther
King, which created a lot of publicity informing the whites how the
blacks would like to be treated.
Though all this effort was put in to secure African-Americans equal
access to and the basic privileges and rights of U.S. citizenship,
there was still a fair share of failures that accompanied the Civil
Rights Movement. Segregation in the South remained and most schools,
as well as public transport; facilities, lunch counters and libraries
ignored the court decision and decided to go on with segregation.
Violence against the black race also increased. Police dogs were
trained to attack the blacks and police were ordered to attack
supporters of Martin Luther King. Laws were placed to prevent black
people from voting.
This table shows how many blacks were registered to vote in the south:
The percentage of black people registered to vote in (1960) the
Southern states were very low. By 1966 the percentage increased, but
there were still places in which it was very low. This proves how hard
it was for the blacks to try and vote. In some places this is still
going on. I believe that this is very unfair because it denies the
blacks the right to vote for whom they think should be their rightful
leader. In 1964 Kennedy created a Civil Rights Act, in which it
outlawed discrimination against blacks and stopped segregation. It
also gave blacks the right to vote and permission to inter-racial
marriages. We can tell the Act did not work to the best of its
advantage because of all the discrimination that is still going on in
the world today.
Overall I think the Civil Rights movement was at its starting point,
because not a lot had been accomplished by 1963. Negotiations,
petitions and non-violent protest demonstrations had taken place but
the full effect of them had not spread till after 1963. So I would say
the Civil Rights Act was successful in long-term but by 1963 it was
not very successful.