Civil Rights Movement

By: Jaelin Martin

Civil rights - Where are we now?

The Civil Rights Movement supposedly shaped America and changed our ways, but what about the events that happen today? As we've seen in the news, there has been a lot of shootings, riots, and even more questions about the rights that black people have(or don't have.) The most publicized riots have occurred in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, and Washington state. All of these places have one thing in common. A white police officer used unnecessary or illegal force against an unarmed black male, killing them or seriously injuring them. These situations have caused serious fits of rage, anger, and bursts of violence from rioters. All of these events make me wonder, did we ever actually attain civil rights for all people?
I believe to a certain extent that the Civil Rights movement changed America. The CR movement changed laws on segregation, voting, and all-around equal rights for colored people. However, this does not mean everyone suddenly changed their attitude towards them. Even though black people had the same rights as the white people, they were treated unequally or even less-than. You cannot change a racist person's mindset when they believe something to be true. When you still have racism around in an older generation, it festers like a wound throughout younger, impressionable people. This means there is still racism today. We know this for a fact because we see it in the news almost daily. So yes, the civil rights movement changed the laws around equality. But I know the civil rights movement did not change the attitude towards black people.
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Thank God Almighty! We are free at last!

Martin Luther King addresses a crowd of over 250,000 people who volunteered to march to the Lincoln Memorial. He makes his world famous "I Have A Dream" speech during this time.

Tactics and Strategies Of the Movement

During the Civil Rights Movement, it was constantly stressed to stay away from violence at whatever cost. All leaders of the movement had the same idea in mind. They believed civil disobedience was the way to go in order to gain their rights. Martin Luther King Jr, one of the biggest leaders, fought to maintain the peaceful protests. He knew how hard it would be to get everyone on the same level and to fight like civil human beings. Even though he struggled to keep the peace between everyone, he managed somehow to succeed and this made it possible for him and many other leaders to start fighting in a civil way. Gandhi's rules of civil disobedience say never to use violence, resistance against an officer, and to always refuse to obey laws in a civil manner accustomed to your morals. This tactic of civil disobedience was the foundation of all strategies used during the movement.
When using the strategy of civil disobedience to get what you are fighting for, you don't use violence, as I stated above. One way the African-Americans fought bus segregation was to boycott the bus companies. This was a nonviolent way to take a stand and you could not get in trouble for it. This strategy led to an end of the bus segregation laws and created new laws that banned segregation on buses. Another way people fought without violence was during marches. Marches from one place to another were a common way to get a large group of people to fight for what they wanted to change. The largest march was the march to the Lincoln Memorial where MLK read his famous speech. The tactic of sticking together as a community, fighting for the same rights, and without using violence made people believe that there could actually be civil rights. This tactic obviously proved to work out.
Some other ways of being non-violent was to just jump right into situations where it was very socially unacceptable to do so. By this I mean simply sitting at a white lunch counter or riding in the front of the bus. A very famous tactic to help get rid of the stigma of black people in white schools was the group of nine students in Little Rock, Arkansas. When the law changed and allowed black people to go to whatever school they wanted, everyone knew this would be an issue. Even though they knew, these students were trained and went to school with everyone else. It was very controversial and so many leaps and bounds were taken to ensure these black student's rights. They were completely non-violent and eventually they were able to go to school with less torture.
The main goal of the Civil rights Movement was to gain rights for all people. Morally, the leaders of the movement wanted to gain these rights without violence. I think that is the basic strategy for everything that happened during the movement. It was a very wise, respectable way to fight for the rights everyone in this country was promised. I think its very interesting to look back on the strategies that were used during the Civil Rights Movement and the strategies that are used today. The strategies used today to fight against racism is not respectable nor nonviolent, it is the exact opposite. I think the politically correct way to take a stand for what you believe in was shown during the civil rights movement. It was not perfect and I'm sure it was difficult to get everyone on the same level, but I think their nonviolent approach is what got them rights they deserve.
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Important leaders of the Civil rights Movement walk on Washington. As you can see, there are both white and black leaders leading this march. The signs that are being held are demanding equal jobs, pay, voting rights, and an end to segregation in schools.

top 5 events that changed the civil rights movement

Bombing of Birmingham Church
I rate the bombing of Birmingham Church as number one. One Sunday morning, 200 people were getting done with their Sunday school classes and were getting ready for the church service. There were four girls in the basement restroom when a bomb had detonated. Those four little black girls were killed by the explosion, a fatal move by the KKK. This made news everywhere and outraged people. This was such a big deal because most people still went to church every Sunday. These things were not supposed to happen at church and it severely offended people that this happened to the little girls.
Bus Boycott
I rate the Montgomery Bus Boycott as number two on my top five list. The Bus boycott was a huge move in the right direction for civil rights. Almost all black people rode the bus to get to work, home, the market, or anywhere else they needed to go. There were laws that required black people to give up there seat or move to the back of the bus for a white person if necessary. These strict segregation laws upset all the black people who rode the bus and they decided they would stop riding the bus. They carpooled, walked, or took taxis if they could afford it. Since almost all riders were black, bus companies were losing money and shutting down. This urged congress to make a law to end bus segregation and the black people won the battle.
The Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine students, girls and boys, who were going into an all white college. This was a huge problem for all the white students already attending the college and everyone knew there would be a great deal of chaos. They would be badly beaten, spit on, tortured, and called horrible names. When they arrived on their first day of school, they were greeted by riots, barricades, and the Arkansas National Guard. This is so significant to the Civil rights Movement because they made a change in the school setting. They made the first move in the right direction to end segregation in schools. I rank this event as number three in the top five.
Assassination of MLK
Martin Luther King Jr. is known today as the biggest voice in the Civil rights movement. He was a leader of many activist groups and an inspiration for all. He urged the idea of Civil Disobedience and non-violent ways of putting up a fight. His speaking skills were amazing and he read many speeches that will forever go down in history. One day in Memphis, Tennessee, King was planning to write a speech about sanitation workers. He was outside on the balcony of his motel. This is where a bullet was shot through his head. This was a huge event and is still a shocker to think about today. I rate this as number four in my top five list.
MLK "I Have A Dream" speech
My final choice for my top five list is the I Have A Dream speech Martin Luther King Jr. wrote and read at the Lincoln Memorial. This speech moved mountains as he spoke. It empowered everyone of every color to continue to fight for rights. His speech was so beautifully written and touched the hearts of all 250,000 people at the march on Washington. His dream was conveyed through his words and still lives today. His moving speech will always be a large part of our history in America and especially in the Civil Rights Movement.
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This picture is of one black girl entering her new all-white college. She was apart of the Little Rock Nine. The young white woman in the back is known as "the face of bigotry" simply because of the look of disgust on her face. The Little Rock nine students made changes for segregation in schools forever.

Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Emmett Till

Emmett Till was a black teenage boy from Tennessee who was going to visit his cousin in Money, Mississippi. The difference between the North and the South was huge since racism was so strong in the South. One day Till went to a market and supposedly on his way out, he said "bye baby" to the white store clerk. He was taken from his bed that night by two men and brutally beaten and shot in the head. He was thrown into a river anchored by a 75 pound wheel. When his murderers were identified, they went to court and won. They admitted to killing Till and the all-white jury voted in their favor. This event caused so much anger and brought to light the issue of racism.

Jimmie Lee Jackson

Jackson was a civil rights activist just like many others killed in this time. He was participating in a nighttime peace protest walk in his town when troopers stormed in, beating people. He tried to escape and ran into a nearby building with a large group of other escapees. Troopers stormed in soon after them. Jackson saw his mother being hit and could not stop himself from attacking the officer. He was brutally beaten and shot by a trooper. He was left to die. He was rescued by some people and taken to a hospital. Jackson suffered bad head injury and died eight days later in the hospital. Jimmie Lee Jackson was a veteran of WWII and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was an inspiration for the marches from Selma to Montgomery.