Civil Rights

by Daniel Craig

Civil Rights Effects Today

In the '60s, civil rights were a very popular topic among the general public. Many ethnic groups were standing out to protest, but none more than African Americans. The movement persisted for years, and many would say that it was successful. Although I would definitely agree that the protests were a success in the 60s, I don't believe they are over. The fight for equality and rights made progress towards being equal, but it never ended.

The riots today are an example of the modern day fight to end racism and promote equality. Although MLK and the leaders of the past made huge strides towards creating a more accepting world, their work lives on today. In just the past year, there have been three major riots in favor of civil rights.

The Tactics Fighters Used

-----Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement in a variety of ways. A lot of tactics where used that closely followed Gandhi's methods of repelling British rule. MLK's all-encompassing plan was to use nonviolent protests to bring down the oppression of power around them. It was very important that people in these protests remained calm and did not lash out physically at the oppressors, as they would reinforce the stereotypes they sought to destroy.

-----When people heard King and the smaller movement leaders talk, they knew that their tactics were going to be effective and almost unstoppable. African Americans everywhere were motivated to get going on the movement. Students were the mainstay of protests, staging sit-ins and nonviolent actions at every opportunity.

-----Many organizations were founded to make action against racism, like the NAACP. They helped racist destroy racist foundations and segregation against all races. These groups still exist today and were very successful at the time, creating media buzz for segregation and encouraging the youth to help with the cause. These organizations tried to bring wrongdoers and segregation offenders to court and give them a fair trial. They also tried to help blacks that were brought to court under unfair circumstances.

-----Marches were widespread and probably the biggest part of the fight. MLK himself led many marches, with various church preachers or even nonreligious people leading some as well. Sometimes these protests were met with retaliation and many blacks were hurt or even killed for their cause. Many court cases were protested for their unfairness, because a white person would rarely be convicted of a murder or rape of a black person.

-----Since busses were such a big part of the segregation, a boycott was staged on the transportation industry. Blacks weren't going to ride busses until they could sit where they pleased and the busses came to their neighborhoods. The bus industry came screeching to a halt because of all the lost revenue and they were forced to make a change. Groups like the Freedom Riders contributed heavily in this area of the protests.

Unsung Heroes

-----People like MLK showed massive embrace on the civil rights movement. But many people gave their lives, whether willingly or unwillingly to become martyrs of equality. One of these heroes was Emmett Till, a young boy who was killed in his cabin at night. He had spoken to a white woman early that day and her husband killed the boy because of it. Till was not an active participant in the rights movement, but his death caused an uproar in the community. African Americans now knew that the prejudice knew no end, even to the point of killing innocent boys who weren't even part of the movement. More uproar was felt when the trial of Emmett Till went to court and his murders were found not guilty by a jury of predominantly white people. So many cases had went in favor of whites that African Americans could feel no safety in their own government. Till was a martyr the moment he was killed, as nobody would ever forget what kind of lives they were fighting for.

-----In the Plessy v. Ferguson case, Homer Plessy became a figurehead for civil rights for years to come. Homer had tried to dispute the 'separate but equal' way of thinking from the US government. In his loss to Ferguson, Homer created a firestorm. People everywhere were now trying to stop the government's idea of 'separate but equal.' Everyone now knew that the government was not going to change for them. That they had to make the changes themselves. Being separate was not in any minorities plans at this period, and the government wasn't going to stop them from reaching equality. This court case was influential all the way until today, with the broken idea still spinning in people's heads of 'separate but equal.' Separation is the exact opposite of equality, and the bus boycott showed that clearly. Minorities wanted the same rights as everyone else, and this case showed them they'd have to take it by force.

Pete Seeger- We Shall Overcome

The song was made as a mainstay for the civil rights movement. People everywhere used the song to strike down racism, and the lyrics talked of not being afraid. Oppression was not to be feared according to the words in the song. The song was uplifting, and it guaranteed that "We're on to victory, we're on to victory, We're on to victory someday." The lyrics really represented the way almost every minority felt in this time period, but especially African Americans.They wanted to walk hand in hand with everyone no matter the skin color, and this is in the song. "We are not afraid today" is mentioned, really showing that most people in this movement were not afraid of the oppression and terror. They would do whatever they needed to secure a future in which all were equal. A future that is coming true in the world today, albeit slowly. This piece united everyone who was looking for a cause into a people machine stronger than the world could've imagined.