The Civil Rights Movement

By Cody Ekwall


The civil rights movement was a movement to end racial segregation and discrimination of African-Americans. This movement lasted from 1954 to 1968 and caused many riots, town destruction, and even deaths. Some leaders arose such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks to resist and lead people to resist.

Methods Of The Protest:

The African-Americans mainly used the form of civil disobedience (peaceful refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines) to protest. They used boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and many more nonviolent activities to protest.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott is one example of a boycott where all the African-Americans in the town refused to ride the bus and chose walking or carpooling instead. They ruined the bus industry because the majority of the bus riders were black. This also decreased the sales in local businesses because blacks could not get to some of the shops they once could. This eventually aggravated the bus industry and local businesses enough to change the law and integrate the buses.

One example of a sit-in took place in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests in 1960, which led to the Woolworth department store chain removing its policy of racial segregation in the southern states.

In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery in an attempt to register blacks for voting. They were met with a violent resistance of state and local authorities as the whole world watched. The protesters finally reached their goals of marching for three straight days to reach Montgomery. This helped raise awareness of the difficulties blacks faced, and the need for the Voting Rights Acts that was passed later that year.

Key People

Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are two people of great importance to the civil rights movement. They are leaders of this movement with not only their words, but their actions.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister and social activist who played a key role in the civil rights movements in the 1950's until he was assassinated in 1968. He was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his civil disobedient ways of protest. He fought for African-American equality, the economically disadvantaged, and victims of injustice with civil disobedience. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington which brought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered every year on Martin Luther King Jr. day as a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.

Rosa Parks is also know as "the mother of the civil rights movement" because her arrest of breaking Jim Crow laws by not giving up her bus seat to a white man sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. This boycott, that started the day she was arrested, played a major role in the civil rights movement as being extremely pivotal when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional and proved to be successful. Parks was nationally recognized over the next half century for her dignity and strength through the struggle to end racial segregation.

Important Groups


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is a Civil Rights organization for ethnic minorities that wants to ensure political, educational, social, and economic equality and eliminate race prejudice. It was founded on February 12, 1909 to help minorities in the southern states gain equality. This organization is still running today and is the largest and most know civil rights organization. It is important to the movement because it achieved these goals through the Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in public schools and forced them to start integrating blacks and whites in public schools. It also helped integrate the armed forces, pass the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964, and 1968, as well as pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Freedom Riders:

The Freedom Riders are a courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged the segregation in the south in 1961. On May 4, 13 African-American civil rights activists launched a series of bus rides through the south to protest segregation in interstate bus terminals. These riders tried to use "whites-only" restrooms and lunch counters. The riders encountered serious violence of white protestors while drawing international attention to their cause. Several hundred Freedom Riders engaged in similar actions over the next few months. In September 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations against segregation in bus and train stations nationwide.