Civil Rights to 1965
Frustrated by black disenfranchisement in the south and the blatant racism epitomized by segregated schools, black militancy grew. Sit-ins, freedom rides, and other signs of the explosive discontent ravaged the nation, especially in the south where such actions were met by fierce resistance. Destroying the public’s complacency, nonviolent protest met by vicious dogs, blasting water hoses, and sneering racists shocked the nation. Black Power and the cry that "Black is Beautiful" resounded in the hearts of many African Americans.
Implementation of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: The Warren court decided in 1954 that the separate but equal concept that legalized segregation was unconstitutional. Angered by the court decision, white southerners refused to comply; the president refused to enforce it and blacks continued to attend segregated schools.
Montgomery bus boycott: After refusing to give up her seat for a white man in the front of a Montgomery bus in Dec. 1955, Rosa Park was arrested. Black leaders, including King, organized a massive boycott of the buses and took the case to a lower court where it was decided that bus seating would be based on a first-come-first-serve basis.
King Jr. Rev. Martin Luther.: One of the most prominent black civil rights leaders, King called for black assertiveness and nonviolent resistance to oppression. He is famous for his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" which promotes the doctrine of civil disobedience, a method of protests that urges blacks to ignore all laws that they believe are unjust.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference: In protest to Jim Crow, King organized the SCLC in 1957. It was made up of a group of ministers that supported the Montgomery bus boycott. This organization coordinated future protests and preached the need for civil rights activists.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): The NAACP was created in 1909 in New York to raise the quality of living for inner city blacks. It became a powerful legal force and argued cases in the Supreme Court which led to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Urban League: Some southern blacks were not satisfied by the Brown v. Board of Education and formed the Urban League. Rejecting the courtroom strategy utilized by the NAACP, the League advocated more militant tactics. They sought direct confrontation and violence with local governments.
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE): CORE was a group of black rights protesters created in 1942. It organized freedom rides through the south to expose the violations of the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation on interstate buses and trains. CORE also registered blacks to vote throughout the South.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokely Carmicheal, H. Rap Brown: SNCC was a organization of college students that utilized nonviolent forms of protest until Carmicheal and Brown rallied the members in favor of Black Power. The group became more militant, pushing for direct armed confrontation with the police.
Sit-ins, Freedom Rides: Utilized in the spring of 1961, sit-ins and freedom rides were forms of protest organized by CORE and utilized in the spring of 1961. Protestors sat in a segregated section on a bus or restaurant until they were forced to move by racists. When this happened another protestor took the place that had just been vacated. This type of action was used to expose the violations of the court decision to outlaw segregation in public areas and transit.
"I have a dream" speech: King gave this speech during the historic civil rights March on Washington on August 28, 1963. The speech was said to be inspiring and reaffirmed the need for civil rights legislation and nonviolent protesting. The speech reiterated the American ideals of democracy and equality.
March on Washington: King organized this massive civil protest march in Washington in August of 1963 as a result of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The march reaffirmed the need for civil rights legislation and nonviolent protest. It was also the site where King made the "I have a dream" speech.
Evers, Medgar: Evers was an American civil rights leader who conducted campaigns to register black voters and organized boycotts of firms that practiced racial discrimination. He also was one of the early recruiters for the NAACP and was the first field secretary for the state of Mississippi.
Powell, Adam Clayton: Powell was a Black civil rights leader serving as a Democratic Congressman of New York and the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor in 1960-1967. Under his direction the House Committee on Education and Labor passed the Minimum Wage Bill and Anti-Poverty Bill.
Weaver, Robert: Weaver was the first black cabinet member appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. He served as the Secretary of Housing and Department of Urban Development, a new office created to address the needs of those living in the inner city areas.
Marshall, Thurgood: Marshall was the first black residing under the Warren Court during the 1960s. Marshall was famous for pursuing cases that dealt with controversial issues of civil rights and the status of racism in America. His presence in Supreme Court drew more attention to the area of civil and individual rights.
Malcolm X: Malcolm X was an influential black leader who called for unity between blacks to combat oppressive forces in the United States. He was a part of the Nation of Islam, but broke with them to form a black nationalist group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). He advocated Black Power.
Black Panthers: The Black Panthers was a black rights political organization created in Oakland, California in 1966 by Bobby G. Seale and Huey P. Newton. It was originally a small community action group for defense against racism but later it began to urge black armament and direct confrontation with the police.
Black Muslims: Formally called the Nation of Islam, the Black Muslims was a religious organization of the Islamic faith that was also called the American Muslim Mission, World Community of Al-Islam in the West. The group was known for its strict adherence to Islam, and was a root for black militancy in America.
Davis, Angela: Angela Davis was an influential black leader and activist. In 1970, she went into hiding after being accused of aiding an attempted courtroom escape that killed four persons. Tried in 1972 and acquitted, she became the vice-presidential candidate of the Communist party in 1980.
Black Power: Black power was a slogan created by Malcolm X and widely used by Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Congress of Racial Equality. The slogan called for all blacks to organize together and overthrow the oppressive forces of racism in America. Black power became the basis for black militancy in the civil rights movement. The slogan was used by a number of new civil rights activist groups such as the Black Panthers.
Twenty-fourth Amendment: The 24th Amendment, adopted in 1964, gave voting rights to every American citizen, regardless of their race or religion. It also prohibited the use of the poll tax or any tax that denied the vote. The amendment gave Congress the power to enforce it with legislation.
Watts, Detroit race riots: A confrontation between police and blacks in Watts and Detroit took place after the voting rights bill was passed in 1965. It sparked a huge riot that lasted six days. The National Guard was called to put down both riots. This violent growth of civil discontent was given the name "The Long Hot Summers."
Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders: Created to investigate reasons for the massive outbreaks of riots in 1965, the commission concluded that white racism caused mounting violence, poverty, poor education and police brutality and recommended creating 2 million jobs and 6 million housing units to lower tensions. The suggestion was ignored.
de facto, de jure segregation: De facto referred to the use of power and authority in the absence of an actual government or legal authority. In the 1960s, this meant that segregation was accepted as long as it was not outlawed. De jure segregation referred to the system of segregation that was legal in the North such as New York and Chicago.
White Backlash: White backlash referred to white reaction against the massive ghetto riots of thousands of young blacks across the nation. The reaction slowed the civil rights movement because whites in power feared passing legislation and creating civil discontent and riots.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, public accommodations section of the act: Passed under the Johnson administration, this act outlawed segregation in public areas and granted the federal government power to fight black disfranchisement. The act also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent discrimination in the work place. This act was the strongest civil rights legislation since Reconstruction and invalidated the Southern Caste System.
Voting Rights Act, 1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed as a Great Society program under the Johnson administration. It prohibited the use of literacy tests as a part of the voter registration process which were initially used as a method to control immigration to the United States during the 1920s. The act enabled federal examiners to register anyone who qualified in the South, giving the power of the vote to underrepresented minorities.
Civil Rights Act, 1968: The Civil Rights Act of 1968 barred discrimination in housing sales or rentals. This act was a part of a series of new legislation that encouraged desegregation of blacks in America. The act was a key piece of legislation which ensured blacks more equal rights.