Background Information on Civil Rights and America

A bit of background on America and Civil Rights movement

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Background information on Civil Rights and America
Political System:
President - Runs country, recommends legislation to be passed to
Congress. Can issue Executive Orders without need for Congress
Congress - US's parliament. Split into House of Representatives and the
Senate. Bills discussed in congress, and if voted in favour of it becomes
an act (law)
The Supreme Court ­ highest court in US so people can appeal cases
from local courts to get a Supreme Court ruling. Can declare whether a
law is unconstitutional and overturn it. Supreme Court judges are
appointed by the president, but only when there is a place empty due to
retirement or death.
Constitutional Amendments that helped African Americans:
Thirteenth Amendment (1865) ­ Formally abolished slavery
throughout the US.
Fourteenth Amendment (1868) ­ Extended citizenship to anyone born
within the US, including ex-slaves.
Fifteenth Amendment (1870) ­ Gave all male citizens the right to vote
regardless of their race.
Two main parties, the Republicans and the Democrats
Republicans favour less federal intervention in peoples lives
Democrat voters usually working class and pro-segregationists. They
believe the federal government should play a bigger role in helping the
less well off citizens
Plessy Vs Ferguson
1896, African Americans dealt a huge blow by the Supreme Court after
Homer Plessy was arrested and convicted for deliberately sitting in a
whites-only train carriage claiming segregated transport went against
the Fourteenth Amendment. Supreme Court ruled segregation to be
legal so long as the state provided equality in the separation.
Rights Activists
W.E.B. Dubois felt black people needed to unite into a single
organization to campaign peacefully for change. Helped create the
NAACP in 1909.
NAACP used legal tactics to challenge aspects of segregation in the
Marcus Garvey, a black nationalist believed blacks should live separately
to other races and formed the UNIA to try and unite black people,
improve their economic conditions and to create an independent black
state. He actually got a large following in the 20s and there was a
growth in Black Nationalism.

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Impact of WW2
Blacks fought in segregated units and resented the fact that they were
fighting for freedom in other countries when they weren't even free in
their own country
A. Randolph threatened a march on Washington during the war to
protest against segregation in the armed forces and against racial
discrimination in federal employment, Roosevelt issued an Executive
Order that banned discrimination in federal employment.…read more


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