The Civil Rights Movement Essay Example

The discrimination in the 1950s began with Jim Crow Laws, a list of laws used to segregate and discriminate African Americans. These laws continued slavery by calling it a different name, and the African Americans as a community were tired of watching it happen. Soon after Civil Rights movements were created to fight against these awful laws and the discrimination during this time period, beginning in 1954. Protests, marches, and boycotts changed the way others viewed the African Americans during this time period. Lawsuits and court trials tested the limits and fought for justice when there was none. Historical leaders led to the integration of the country during this time, providing hope when African Americans thought there was none left. The movement started to bring African Americans and White Americans together, uniting persons of the two races and creating a sense of equality in America. The 1950s were a time of great progress and prosperity for all Americans.

Protests, marches, and boycotts changed the way others viewed the African Americans during this time period. Groups and organizations formed to come up with ideas to protest the inequality they were facing, both children and adults participated in these events. The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American teenagers who enrolled in an all-white school. The nine individuals were Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Pattillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Carlotta Walls. All nine students were recruited by a woman named Daisy Bates the Arkansas NAACP (The National Association For the Advancement of Colored People) president and publisher of The Arkansas State Press, which was the most influential African American newspaper in that area during this time. Bates helped prep the students for all of the feedback they would encounter being the first African American students to attend an all-white high school. The students “participated in intensive counseling sessions” which would help them prepare for the “anticipated hostile situations” ( Little Rock Nine 3). The school was a high school located in Little Rock, Arkansas named Central High School, and the students began their first day of school on September 4th ,1957. As soon as the students stepped foot on the property of the school white Americans crowded around shouting and protesting. This continued daily and eventually, Arkansas National Guard was called in to block the African American students, an order by Orval Faubus, claiming to only be protecting the students from the potential harm they would face that day going to school. Fabus “insisted that violence and bloodshed might break out if black students were allowed to enter the school” (Little Rock Nine 1). However, despite all the criticism and setbacks they faced, the kids continued to go to school showing the message that they would not back down and continue to fight for their rights. They signed up to go to this school, and the Arkansas law allowed them too, so they would not let the threats or negativity get in their way. They continued to go and their courage inspired other African American children to start integrating white schools too.

One way adults showed their drive and bravery was through a movement called The Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social campaign, in which African Americans refused to ride the bus. This ideology was used to protest against segregated seating after Rosa Parks imprisonment in 1955, for refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white male passenger. The idea of the movement originated from the Montgomery Improvement Association and its president, Martin Luther King Jr. King believed that “Mrs. Parks was ideal for the role assigned to her by history” and wanted this movement to honor her and all she stood for (Montgomery 1). African Americans mostly took up the seats on the bus, so by them protesting the bus company's lost profit and eventually, laws were put in place stating that “segregation on public buses is unconstitutional” (Montgomery 2). 40,000 African American Bus riders boycotted the system on December 5th of 1955. The boycott went on for 13 months and was a perfect example of Martin Luther King Jr’s. nonviolent protest method. National coverage of the movement helped create support from all over the country, and compelled other African Americans and white civil rights activists to start non-violent movements, protests, and boycotts of their own. On June 5th, 1996, The Montgomery court ruled that racially segregated seating violates the 14th amendment in the constitution and the African Americans were allowed to sit wherever they pleased.

Lawsuits and court trials tested the limits and fought for justice when there was none. Trials such as Brown Vs. The Board of Education of Topeka is to be considered Landmark cases because of the rippling effect it had and still has on all of America. Brown Vs. The Board of Education was a group of cases from Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. The cases were named Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County, Bolling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. In each case, the jury was presented with a group of African American students who were not allowed to enter public schooling because of their race. In each case they argued the same thing, “such segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment” (Brown vs Board 1). The court case went on from December 9th, 1952 and ended on May 17th, 1954. When first presented in the lower courts, the plaintiffs were “denied relief” because of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which is known as the creation of the theory Separate but Equal (Brown vs Board 3). As long as there were schools for African Americans than they were “equal” to the white Americans. It did not matter that they were segregated, as long as they both had them. The African Americans who participated, in this case, we're not ready to give up so easily. They filed for their case to be heard by the Supreme Court, and it was accepted. The final ruling stated, “Separate but Equal educational facilities for racial minorities are inherently unequal” (Brown Vs. Board 1). They believed having separate schools would be harmful to the African American children in the long run and stunt their personal growth. However, this win did not happen only with the help of those solely involved. Plessy v. Ferguson, McLaurin v. Oklahoma, Sweatt v. Painter, and Murray v. Maryland all led to Brown v. Board of Education and the Brown win. In all of these cases, African American men, women, and children fought the inequality facing not only just them but those around them as well. They all worked together to fight the “justice” system and prevailed with hard work and determination.

Historical leaders led to the integration of the country during this time, providing hope when African Americans thought there was none left. Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. were incredibly important to the success of the civil rights movement, especially during the 1950s. Although it was not just his participation and leadership in the movement that made him so inspirational during this time, it was his drive that truly impressed his peers. In 1951, King graduated from Crozer with a bachelor of divinity degree and was awarded valedictorian of his graduating class (Major King 2). In the same year, he began his graduate studies in systematic theology at Boston University. In 1955, he graduated with a doctorate degree in systematic theology. In the same year, Rosa Parks was arrested and the MIA was formed, making King its president. Rosa Park's arrest sparked outrage among all African Americans, especially King, which led to the creation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott with him as their leader (Major King 2). After the boycott, King proceeded to use his leadership image to the benefit of the civil rights movement and chose to participate and lead in more protests. King advocated only for peaceful protest and was incredibly positive in his speeches. He was a leader in the movement from December of 1955, to April 1968. He created nonviolent protests to fight for legal equality among African Americans in the United States. He used the power of words, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to connect with his audience and create a sense of hope. With King around, African Americans felt somewhat safe, like they had someone to fight for them. He was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group providing new leadership towards the civil rights movement. Quickly after King was becoming popular, he began to receive threats from white Americans who were threatened by him as an activist for Civil Rights and wanted segregation to continue on. In his eyes, seeing a world full of hope and change was more important than protecting himself. In 1956, he first received a threatening phone call which “prompted spiritual realization” so he continued on with his peaceful protest. A few months later his house was bombed, where he spoke to an angry mob outside pleading for nonviolent protest (Major King 1). No matter what King faced, he still continued on protesting and standing up for what he believed in. In 1957, King was named the chairman of the Southern Negro Leaders Conference, a group full of African Americans who were shown and witnessed creating monumental changes and advancements during the 50’s civil rights movements. His accomplishments landed him the cover of the Time magazine, which was created to honor and appreciate everything he did for the movement. Without people like Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement never would have progressed as much as it did in the 1950s. With great leaders to watch, African Americans were more likely to feel encouraged to respond to their call to action and work together to make a change.

In conclusion, the 1950s were a time of great progress and prosperity for all Americans. Normally white Americans would have all the power and progress, however, due to the groundbreaking events that took place, African Americans were able to feel a sense of power too. The Civil Rights movements that took place paved the way too equality and brought justice to America that the African Americans had not seen before. The boycotts, marches, and protests showed America the African Americans were fighters, and that they would not back down. Civil rights activists were shown as leaders, the faces of the movements getting other people to follow along and fight for injustice. The lawsuits and court cases proved that what the African Americans were doing was effective, and provided hope. The 1950s were so great because of the impact it still has on America today.


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