Civil Rights Movement -Then and Now

By: Shelbie LaPan

What was it?

The Civil Rights Movement was a big part in the history of the United States and is still impacting the US today. It impacted the lives of African Americans. Segregation tore them apart and cause them to be peasants to white people. African Americans were made to drink from separate drinking fountains, eat at separate restaurants, use separate bathrooms and even ride at the back of the bus; however, today, African American people are treated much better and with much more respect and rights, equal to that of a white man.
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What was done?

The Civil Rights Movement was a time of non-violence. The people protesting against segregation did not do it with violence and weapons, but with their words and actions. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. did not use guns and knives to protest but used his words.

There were many riots that took place during this time and a lot of them ended with casualties not of white men and women but black men and women. Many people, black and white, worked together to end segregation.

The churches ran by black religious leaders were a huge part of the Movement. Non-violence was heavily rooted through religion and greatly relied on common sense. The leaders of the black churches were highly respected and so it was easy for them to gain supporters. For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized by religious leaders, mainly King. MLK used love, self-sacrifice and the restoration of black dignity during the time of the boycott.

Many groups like SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), and CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) worked to gain awareness to segregation and the Movement and show the world what was happening. They put together protests, marches and speeches that gained awareness to segregation.

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Martyrs of the Movement:

Clyde Kennard is an unfamiliar name when talking about the Civil Rights Movement but he was a martyr of the time. As a Korean War veteran, he studied at the University of Chicago but had to go home to help his mother in Hattiesburg , Mississippi. Kennard wanted to finish his studies at the all-white school of the University of Mississippi. He talked to the school officials and applied; however, school officials tried their hardest to keep the devoted Baptist man from coming to the school. Finally, they had framed him with a felony of stealing $25 worth of chicken feed. The 12 all-white jury men convicted him of maximum 7 years behind bars after only 10 minutes of talking.

While doing the time for a crime he did not commit he became very ill and was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. The witness of the "crime" had later said that Kennard did not steal the feed, they were just trying to keep him out of the school. The prison officials refused to treat him or let him do his time without hard labor. After many protests he was released halfway through his sentence. Six months later, Clyde Kennard died. Two years after that, the first black students were admitted to the University of Mississippi, the school that had denied Clyde Kennard's entry. (Below is a photo of Clyde Kennard being held by prison officials).

Martyrs of the Movement (continued):

Viola Gregg Liuzzo was a white woman who helped African Americans in the fight of segregation; unfortunately, she was the only white woman to be murdered during the Civil Rights Movement. Luizzo was a wife, a mother of 5, and was a member of the NAACP. She had gone to Alabama to help drive supporters who were involved in the march from Selma to Montgomery from place to place.

On the night of March 21st, 1965, Viola was driving a black teenager by the name of Leroy Moton who was a SNCC member to Selma for the next day's march. A car pulled up next to her and shot into the car, killing Luizzo. Moton survived by playing dead. More than 300 people attended her funeral, including Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Hoffa (American Labor Union Leader) and US Attorney Lawrence Gubow. With the death of Viola Gregg Liuzzo, President Johnson launched an investigation into the KKK, believing they were the prime suspects. (Above in the middle is a photo of Viola Gregg Luizzo)

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What's my top 5?

5. Selma to Montgomery march: The march was led by Dr. King himself. He and many others marched the long 54-mile stretch from Selma to Montgomery to protest segregation. This is an important time because the Civil Rights Movement was already underway and the march helped give more voice to the Movement.

4. Civil Rights Act passed: The Civil Rights Act was passed, which forbade racial discrimination in many parts of cities where blacks and whites didn't intermingle, like hotels, voting, employment and schools. This was a huge spark in the Movement because it gave hope to the Blacks that they were gaining more respect than before.

3. Little Rock Nine: The Little Rock Nine was a group of 9 black students who enrolled and joined an all-white high school to get a better education. They were treated poorly and unfairly by the white students, but in the end, they all grew to become strong students who graduated from an all-white high school. This showed hope, strength and courage in the Movement.

2. Montgomery Bus Boycott: Rosa Parks was one of the most iconic women of the Civil Rights Movement. As the first black person to sit at the front of the bus, she was highly looked up to. She was arrested but showed the Black people to not be afraid to stand up for what they believe in.

1. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated: The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took a toll on the Black society. It was a time of grief and pain; however, they fought through it, and look where the Black Society is now: they are strong and created just as equal and white man and they interact with one-another like it was never a problem.

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