African-American Civil Rights Movement
Introduction to Non-Profitable Organizations
NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
NAACP is an organization formed in 1909 that aims to advance racial equality for African American. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century, NAACP’s leaders, Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, hosted campaigns that lasted decades to overthrow the “separate but equal” doctrine. After successfully facilitating the introduction to Brown v. Board of Education, NAACP pushed for complete desegregation throughout the south of America. Of all the contributors of equal civil rights to African American, NACCP activists such as Edgar Daniel Nixon, an equal civil rights advocator and the leader of NACCP in Montgomery who worked for both voting rights and civil rights for blacks in Montgomery, took over the case of Rosa Parks. Her case was the starting point of worldwide racial equality. The organization activated a bus boycott in Alabama which intended to eliminate bus seats unfairness.
2. CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
CORE, a similar civil rights organization as NAACP in the United States that significantly took part in the Civil Rights Movement, was founded in 1942, aimed to bring about true racial equality for all peoples regardless of religion, race, age, disability, gender, and ethnicity. Its significance started in the Chicago Public Schools where the organization challenged racial segregation. The Core also sent letters regarding the severe condition in segregated schools to the Board of Education, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. CORE organized series of sit-in activities that lasted approximately a week at the Board office in downtown Chicago to protest for the Board’s nonresponse. The Congress of Racial Equality also contributed in the March in Washington, a decisive event throughout the process of the Civil Rights Movement where Martin Luther King Jr. had his well-known speech “I Have a Dream”. CORE, which played an indispensable role in racial equality, hosted and took part in numerous protest events.
3. SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference)
SCLC is an organization of African American civil rights. It was founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. After the success in Montgomery Bus Boycott, King invited 60 African American ministers and leaders to the Ebenezer Church in Atlanta. Bayard Rustin, an American leader who spearheaded social movements, asked C. K. Steele, a preacher and a civil rights activist, to lead the SCLC. Steele declined but recommended King to take the lead role and agreed to work beside him. SCLC joined many activities, including Albany Movement, the first major activity for SCLC, Birmingham campaign, March on Washington, Selma Voting Rights Movement and the march to Montgomery, and Grenada Freedom Movement. The list can go on forever.
4. SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
SNCC was founded by a group of undergraduates during a meeting at Shaw University in April 1960. It was created specifically to support the Civil Rights Movement. It gained a considerable amount of support from the North. Supporters of the movement in the North of America put effort to raise funds and provide all possible financial sources which allowed full-time workers of SNCC to earn an average salary of 10 US dollar per week. Its significance lands in the organization of voter registration. Unlike other organizations, while attending to some protests on segregation, SNCC mostly took part in voting rights activities. SNCC is no longer effective as it was in the mid 20th century. In 1969, it changed its name to “Student National Coordinating Committee”, showing its wider range of protest strategies. SNCC also underwent bankruptcy which is one of the reasons that made it ineffective.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in regards to voting. It was officially signed on August 6th, 1965. It was modified five times to enhance its protection in equal voting rights. It focuses not only on African American but also minorities in the country. According to the United States Department of Justice, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is generally believed to be the most effective act of federal civil rights legislation ever. It includes numerous policies about the regulation of election administration. In fact, section 2 and 3 state prohibition of every state and local government from applying any law that can lead to voting discrimination and literacy tests that are used to disenfranchise racial minorities.
Brown v. Board of Education
The Brown v. Board of Education aims to forbid racial segregation in public schools. It turns such segregation to unconstitutional. It abolished the Plessy v. Ferguson which allowed segregation supported by the states. It was introduced in 1954 with a unanimous decision of the Warren Court. This was the earliest major and official success in the Civil Rights Movement, paving the way for full equal rights. Of course, not everybody supported the decision. In Virginia, Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. organized the Massive Resistance movement to protest. Rather than segregating students, which had already been unconstitutional, he closed down the school to disobey to desegregation.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an act to end discrimination in terms of race, gender, and ethnic background. It turned racial segregation in schools, occupation, and public accommodations unconstitutional. The act was ineffective at the beginning. Little force to enforce the act was put in. Yet, it was reinforced with greater determination to follow the policy. The act banned public discrimination in hotels, restaurants, theaters, and stores. President Kennedy wrote a bill to the House of Representatives while claiming it is “imperative”. It was then referred to the Judiciary Committee. As a result, the act was strengthened. All civil rights organizations pushed extra hard for this provision because it could protect protesters, especially blacks, from police brutality.
How did the Civil Rights Movement Happen?
The Civil Rights Movement started roughly in 1954 and ended in 1968. It aimed to eliminate unequal civil rights in any form. The movement happened with the case of Rosa Parks. Traditionally, the ten front seats were reserved for whites. The then back seats were for blacks. The middle section, which has 16 seats, was unreserved. However, with a consensus of bias, the whites had the priority to sit down. Blacks were supposed to stand up to give up their seats to white passengers. After a white passenger went on the bus, she was asked to give up her seat. While Parks rejected the request, the bus driver immediately called the police. Despite the fact that city laws did not explicitly allow segregation, bus drivers were given authorities to assign seats. After Parks was being arrested and charged, Women’s Political Council organized a city boycott. It resulted in the fixed dividing seats. Blacks no longer had to give up their seats even when whites seat section is oversubscribed. This was a compromise for the boycott. The boycott was causing some financial damage to the income from buses.
After the boycott, a segregation occurred in the Little Rock Central High School in 1957. National guards prevented nine African-American students from attending the school. After that, black students who attended high school were treated with terrible and disrespectful manners. They had to put up with spitting, mocking, and harassments. Soldiers were sent to schools to prevent further conflicts. Blacks students were teased and attacked when soldiers were not around.
A sit-in in 1958 also happened. Organized and prepared by NAACP Youth Council, there were sit-ins at the lunch center of a Dockum Drug Store in Wichita, Kansas. The protest targeted to remove segregated seats in the store as one of the store’s policies. After all Dockum stores in Kansas were desegregated, this protest tactic was followed in Katz Drup Store in Oklahoma City which was also successful. Sit-ins also happened in Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Four students from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College, an all-black college, occupied seats in the store for its policy of unwilling to serve black people. They purchased items in other places while keeping the recipients. After being refused to be served, they questioned the store owner why their money was accepted by others but not the lunch counter. This sit-in led to even wider follows of protests. Sit-ins occurred in many states. Some major ones are Richmond, Virginia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. These protests focused not only on lunch counters but also on beaches, museums, libraries, parks, and other public facilities. Leaders of sit-ins were invited by SCLC member Ella Baker at Shaw University which led to the formation of the SNCC. They furthered the tactics of nonviolent protesting and organized freedom rides.
Freedom Ride is the journey of civil rights activists to take interstate buses to segregated areas (mainly the south) to protest. The first Freedom Ride was organized by CORE in 1961. It began in Washington D. C and ended in New Orleans. This form of protest was treated harshly. Freedom Riders in Jackson, Mississippi were arrested for the reason of “breaching the peace” by using what the police called the “white only” facilities, buses in this case. However, New freedom rides were sent and continued to protest into the South. Any new riders in Mississippi were all arrested (more than 300 in total).
A decisive event in the Civil Rights movement would be the March on Washington in 1963. The march had six main goals, more equal civil rights laws, fair employment, more reasonable housing, equal voting rights for blacks, and sufficient desegregated education. It started from Selma to Montgomery. And it ended on March 7th when police used tear gas and clubs to attack protesters. Having the news being spread, it brought civil rights sympathizers to Selma. The attack provided the determination for marchers to mobilize another march. SNCC members asked King to disobey a court order that forbad such march. King followed the will and launched a second march on March 9th on the Pettus Bridge, but it was blocked by police. On the evening on March 9th, a white minister who was in the march was killed by a group of white Selma. After a few delays, the civil rights march received permission to proceed. Not long after the march, the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which significantly increased the number of southern blacks who can register to vote. This protest for greater opportunity to vote for blacks was the last racial protest in the 60s to receive noticeable support from the whites. The march also contributed to the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The act mainly focused on fair housing which was one of the purposes of the two marches.
The consequences of the Civil Rights Movement
One legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was introduced because of the Civil Rights Movement. It made discrimination and segregation of race, religion, nationality, and gender in public facility illegal. Ofari-Hutchinson, the lead author of A Colored Man’s Journey Through 20th Century Segregated America published by Middle Passage Press, raised strong awareness of the inappropriate existence of racial injustice. Civil rights leaders including Ofari-Hutchinson called on the Los Angeles City Council to conduct July 2nd as the Civil Rights Remembrance Day of signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ralph D. Fertig, the social work professor who convinced the Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act claimed that the movement completely changed America. Advertisements that clearly state “no negroes need apply” or “whites only” legally existed. (Unfair job opportunity) Public facilities were allowed to overtly discriminate blacks. These public insults have been strictly banned in any possible form. Joseph Alford, who is the president of the Carson-Torrance branch of the NAACP, protest strongly against unequal voting rights. He succeeded, paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that banned unfair literacy tests that were used to disenfranchise minorities and provided other protections. Voting is now allowed for blacks in today’s society without having to be harassed by others. Discrimination in public areas such as restaurant was extremely common, even under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, it is now reinforced strongly by the government and the general public. Although overt discrimination and racial prejudice are eliminated, potential unfair judges in the court in terms of race are existing social problems.