Civil Rights Movements

By: Madison Hill

Introduction

The Civil Rights Movement helped shape the United States into the equal and free country we are today. African Americans did not have the same availabilities as the whites. Due to this problem, there became many non-violent and violent protests to end segregation. African Americans and whites came together to work for many organizations to accomplish equality for all. This led them to become equal and just. With these different organizations, people were able to voice their opinions about racial segregation freely.

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During the time of racial segregation, people used many different tactics to get rid of the segregation against African Americans. One of main tactics was protesting. Protesting caused a lot of chaos between the activists and the government officials. There are two types of protesting: non-violent and violent. Many African Americans were encouraged to do non-violent protesting by the famous Martin Luther King Jr. A non-violent protest that they did was the event of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The bus system would only allow African Americans to sit in the back of the bus while the white Americans sat in the front. The black Americans thought this was unfair to segregate where they sit because they were a large amount of the people on the bus. When they decided to stop taking the bus in 1955, the bus company lost a huge amount of money. This was a year long protest where the protesters took taxis, walked or even carpooled. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the first victories for the Civil Rights Movement.

Another popular tactic in this time was sit-ins. Sit-ins took place at the lunch counters in downtown Nashville. If a restaurant wouldn't serve to African Americans, they wouldn't leave until they got their food or made their point. This was another non-violent act to end segregation. Though the protesters were usually verbally and physically harassed, they never retaliated with violence. Many of the people who participated in the Nashville sit-ins went on to become leaders of the movement.

One major event of this time period was the Little Rock Nine. This allowed nine African American children to go to an all white school. Many people hated this. They would stand outside the school and harass the children as they would walk in. The nine children didn't fall for the harassment. The children and supporters of it stayed non-violent and didn't fight back. This was a tactic to show how people would react when the blacks and whites were mixed together in a setting.

Unsung Hero

Medgar Evers is one of the many forgotten people of the Civil Rights Movement. Evers came home after a late night meeting with the NAACP members. When he was unlocking his front door, he was shot. He was taken to the hospital where he died thirty minutes later. The killer was Bryon De La Beckwith. The charges on him were dismissed until 1994, almost 30 years after Evers' death. Medgar was known as the NAACP's first state secretary. He led organized protests and investigated murders including the death of Emmett Till.

Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy from Chicago. He was visiting his aunt and uncle in Money, Mississippi when he reportedly harassed a white store clerk woman. Three days later, Till was kidnapped from his relative's home. He was beaten and shot in the head until his body was disfigured. He was thrown in to a nearby river. Emmett's mother was horrified. She demanded an open casket funeral for her son to show people how far the segregation has gone. The Mississippi police department wouldn't run much of an investigation due to the fact that they were highly segregated. The NAACP launched their own investigation. Two men were accused of the killing. In 1955, the two men were put on trial. The all white jury returned a verdict of "not guilty" after an hour. Emmett Till's murder opened the eyes of many Americans. They began to start seeing how awful the segregation was becoming.

Review of a Song

In 1967, Nina Simone recorded her single "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" This song is a gospel/jazz song. This song was the anthem of the civil rights movements in the 60's. This song is saying that she wishes she could be free from the segregation of America. She sings "All the chains holdin' me I wish I could say all the things that I should say". I think that she is referring to how the African Americans cannot speak how they feel about the segregating without getting put in jail or lynched. Simone sings that she wishes that she could live her life how she longs to. I think she is saying this because she feels trapped in her own life. She wants to be free like the white Americans.