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Opposition to change 1955-1968
Opposition to change came from a wide variety of people; this includes the president, congress, the
Supreme Court and the FBI. At local and state level this included state governors, city mayors and
local police, showing that there were a lot of people who opposed racial injustice.
President Eisenhower rarely got involved in the civil rights issues. He believed that the
protests did more harm than good and just caused resentment. He believed that they should
be patient and in time, change would come, but this wasn't solving any problems of racial
injustice at the time.
President Kennedy was more involved in the civil rights issues but he also disagreed on their
methods. Following the freedom rides he encouraged campaigners to abandon protest and
put their efforts into the voter registration.
President Johnson was the most radical .from 1963-65 he worked with civil rights
campaigners to bring about change. But after this the civil rights campaigners started
criticising his policies in Vietnam. After this he did not interfere with them much. He , like
Kennedy suggested they should focus more on voters registration .
Opposition from congress
Alliances of southern democrats and some republicans did much to weaken the civil rights acts. They
used to do filibusters (make a speech for a long time, take all time allocated to bill, so congress
cannot vote on bill to make into law) so that these laws never got passed. But they were able to back
the civil rights act of 1964 and voting rights of 1965which gave government significant power to
enforce desegregation and support voter registration.
The FBI used its powers to undermine civil rights actions in the 1950s and 60s .Hoover suspected
that groups like NAACP ,SCLC , SNCC and CORE had links to communist party and therefore posed
a threat to American society. Because of this he set up the counter intelligence program to
investigate these groups. They broke into their offices and harassed civil rights activists. They also
joined these kind o groups saying that they supported them however they encouraged
disagreements in them so that they would fall apart.
They were more opposed to this than national politicians. State governors normally did everything in
their power to try not to implement change. For example governor Faubus used a combination of
violence, propaganda and legal measures to stop little rock high school from integrating black
Police forces in the southern states were one of the main obstacles of achieving equality. They used a
variety of tactics to oppose change, for example in Birmingham 1963 , Eugene `bull' Conner gave
permission to use a water cannon against protestors ( as a weapon) his tactics were
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counterproductive ( produced problems instead of helping) because this gained media attention
which forced the federal government to support it.
Northern police was also an obstacle , in Chicago 1966, the police attempted to try shut down the
fire hydrants what led to a riot.
This was also a barrier to racial equality. The majority supported an end to legal segregation. But
they did not want to live in integrated neighbourhoods.…read more