Civil Rights Final Project

by Jessenia Rudd

The Degree that the Civil Rights Movement had Made Americans Equal

The Civil Rights Movement was extremely efficient in the area of founding public equality, meaning that public facilities such as transportation, restrooms, and restaurants, were all made integrated. It also did much to eliminate racism because the social norms, for example the Jim Crow laws are modernly considered to be both radical and highly illegal. However, the movement was somewhat less effective causing the wealth of the different ethnic races to be equalized.

Although America is a country that has more freedoms and opportunity than many others, it has been difficult for African Americans as a whole to achieve the same quality of wealth and livelihood that White Americans have. White Families were higher above the poverty level, and they therefore inherited a higher level of opportunity. Money after all, is power and extra opportunity. Both White and Black average family incomes have risen since 1967 almost exactly the same amount. If they were becoming more equalized, then the White household average income would lower slightly and the Black family average income would rise slightly. Because they are not yet equal, it shows that there is still progress towards equality to be made in America. Luckily, today other opportunities such as financial aide scholarships to college bound students are awarded to those in need of help. This allows even more opportunity to work towards a better future and a more equalized nation.


Three main strategies of the Civil Rights movement were, the Bus Boycott which lasted about a year, "sit ins," and marches as well. Many of the big events that compose the Civil Rights Movement were actually strategically planned by the NAACP. Rose Parks and her husband were both activists in the organization and Parks was well known and respected by both the black and white communities. This was key to the success at beginning the bus boycott. After all, she was not the first person to refuse her seat to a white person and go to jail for it. Within days, fliers had been passed out all over Montgomery Alabama and the Bus Boycott began.

Other protesting tactic included public marches. It is another example of what the Civil Rights Movement is particularly famous for, that is, peaceful protest. Dr. Martin King Jr is most famously associated with this philosophy and he was inspired by the non violent nature of Gandhi's protests against the British rule in India. A particularly notable, if not the very most notable, march that took place was on the 28th of August, 1963, when about 200,000 people gathered in support of the protest. This is when King gave his, "I have a dream," speech.

Not all Civil Rights Activists were in favor with non-violent protest. A man named Malcolm X openly criticized King for his philosophy. Malcoln's own father was thought to have been murdered by white racists when he was only 6 years old. This may be one reason that he opposed a "kumbaya" type of protest. He believed strongly in self defense and argued that is has always been through revolution that changes have been made in societies. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, but his legacy was a group of freedom fighters who called themselves the "Black Panthers," who believed in total separation of black and white people. They lived what they preached by creating their own self sufficient communities and armed themselves against racism.

"Two Unsung Heroes"

Elizabeth Eckford *Photo included above

After the brown vs Board case, the Supreme Court ruled on a federal level that it was legal for African Americans children to attend all public schools. Because of this,Will Cook took what may be one of the most famous pictures of the Civil rights movement. It is a picture of a courageous black girl surrounded by a crowd of white teenagers. However, one white girl called Hazel Bryan, is shouting with a terrible ugly look on her face at the black girl. The result is that the angry crowd more resembles a mob but the black girl bears with no malice. Many would recognize this historic picture, but few know the name of the girl or more than the fact that she was attempting to enter an "all white" school.The name of the black girl was in the photo is Elizabeth Eckford. She was one of nine African American teenagers (most comonly referred to as the "Little Rock Nine") who were trained prior to the school year and prepared to face the challenges of attending an "all white" school.

Mamie Till Mobley *Photo included above

A young man named Emmet Till was visiting family in the south for the first time when he broke one of the unspoken rules by whistling at a white woman. Till's inexperience was enough to get him lynched and his murderers threw his body in the river with a large piece of farming equipment hung around his neck. Till's body was so mangled when it was recovered, that he was only identifiable by the ring he wore on his finger.

In court, Emmett's murderers were not found guilty. Emmitt's mother, Mamie, was outraged. When she went back north to her home, she made an extreamely bold move. She decided to have Emmett's casket open for his funeral. African American men and women lined up for blocks to attend the funeral and geta look of Emmett's mangled body. It was the most graphic evidence of a crime that could have been displayed. The result of Mobley's courage to have an open casket funeral was world exposure of the hate that African Americans lived in fear of every day of their lives.

"Strange Fruits"

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop"

Song Explanation

Billy Holiday was the most well known singer of the song "Strange Fruits," written in 1937 by Abel Meeropol. Holiday first recorded it in 1939, which was just five years before the Brown vs Board case came to the Supreme Court. It is debatable weather or not this event can technically be considered part of the Civil Rights movement because the song was written and recorded a few years before the movement really got kicked off. However, in a way, this shows that Meeropol and Holiday were all the more courageous for doing such a bold thing without that extra support.

The song is a comparison of hanging fruit on trees to hanging lynched Negros. It's theme is that like a fruit crop, the harvest of the South was racism. It is extremely graphic, which is all the more fitting because it makes it all the more powerful.