Civil Rights Movement

By Stacie Keller

To what degree has the civil rights movement contributed to making the United States a more equal and just society?

The Civil Rights Movement was a turning point for the United States. It didn't solve all of the problems, but it was a start. Many people lost their lives fighting for their freedom. At first it seemed as though it was going to be for nothing, but the more people died, the more people started to see just exactly how bad the situation was. People were finally starting to understand what was going on.
We still have prejudice and racism in the United States, but most are accepting of everyone regardless of their skin color or ancestry. The Civil Rights Movement wasn't that long ago, and there are still people alive today that were raised to treat people differently based on the way they look. It's not perfect and there are still many problems involving racism, but it is getting better.

Throughout the rest of this flyer, you will learn a little bit about the people involved in the civil rights movements that aren't talked about as much, how they survived the discrimination, and a song that helped people to learn about that time.

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The main thing that the blacks wanted to do was to promote non-violence. They marched and boycotted, but never fought back. On the other hand, the white people would brutally beat and murder them and get away with it.

The first thing that really started to promote non-violence was Rosa Parks and her refusal to give up her seat. They were testing how racist the people on the buses were. This act lead to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and from there even more. After the Bus Boycott Martin Luther King Jr. went to President Eisenhower to try to get a White House Conference on Civil Rights, but was denied. This led to the prayer march on the Lincoln Memorial.

As things started to progress, more tactics were being used, such as sit-ins. One of the most famous sit-ins was in North Carolina at a lunch counter at a Woolworth's. This was made up mostly of students who were previously harassed for sitting at that very lunch counter. Since then many more sit-ins had been done.


Viola Liuzzo

Viola Liuzzo was a young white woman who devoted her life to the Civil Rights Movement. She participated in the four day march starting on March 21, 1965. After that, she decided that she wanted to continue to help the cause. She insisted on shuttling people from Montgomery to Selma. After dropping people in Selma, her and Leroy Moton started to head back to Montgomery. While stopped at a red light, a car pulled up next to them. They were form the Klu Klux Klan. When they saw a white woman and a black man in a car together, they started following them. After a while, they opened fire and Liuzzo was shot in the head. The first trial started in the beginning of May, but it was declared a mistrial. The second trial began in October. The men were not found guilty of murder, however, in the federal trial they were found guilty of conspiracy and were sentenced to 10 years prison, a landmark in southern prison history.

James Chaney

He became involved in the Civil Rights Movement at the age of 15. He was chosen as one of the students to wear a NAACP paper badge to school, where he was suspended for a week because they were afraid of what would happen if the all-white school board found out. At 19, he became part of the "Freedom Bus Rides" where he sat next to freedom riders. The second bus he rode, where he sat at the front, was escorted out of city limits by police and they were all threatened with arrest if they continued to try to desegregate the busses. At age 20 he joined CORE and began organizing voter education classes in Mississippi. On June 16, 1964, the church that was being used for voter education classes, was firebombed by some members of the Klu Klux Klan. Chaney went to the ruins along with two others. On their way back, they were stopped by police and handed over to the Klu Klux Klan where they were brutally murdered and buried in an "earthen dam". There was a 44 day search for their bodies, all of which was national news. When the bodies were discovered they said that the damage looked as though they were in a high speed airplane crash. The James Earl Chaney Foundation was created in his memory to promote advancements in Human and Civil Rights and Voter Registration.
This song was written in 1964. It talks about change and really gives you that feeling that something new is going to happen. It can be used for almost any situation, but was originally written to signify the change in Civil Rights. A few years after this song was written and published, Bob Dylan said this about his song, "This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads...'Come all Ye Bold Highway Men', 'Come All Te Tender Hearted Maidens'. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time."