America Civil Rights 1954-75

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  • Created on: 06-10-19 10:24

Civil Rights 1954-75

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Segregation and discrimination, Attitudes in the S

Discrimination and Segregation,

Black people usually had the worst paid jobs so had to live in the poorest parts of the city called 'ghettos', it was crowded and the facilities were poor. They had to sit in seperate seats on the bus and were thrown off or arrested if they idd not sit in the coloured section. They also had poor voting rights with white employers threatening to sack their black employees if they voted. Additionally, on voting or registration days, white gangs gathered outside voting places to physically stop black people from voting. Many states had unfair literacy qualifications or set rules to make it impossible to vote.

Attitudes in the south,

White people were brought up to think black people were inferior, the police and law courts in the south were full of racists who would beat black people. Officials meant to protect the people would belong to racist white groups. The few white southerners who supported equal rights were subjected to a similar treatment.

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Civil Rights Groups

The NAACP- fought for civil rights in court, they helped wrongly convicted back people with a legal defence fund. By 1950, their aim was to fight segregation in law courts, not work with it. They fought the 'plessy v. ferguson' act, which stated segregation was allowed if the facilities were equal. NAACP used two methods of overcoming plessy, either providing evidence that they weren't equal or that they didnt have equal oppurtunity. NAACP used psyschological studies to show school segregation gave black children a sense of racial inferiority. They won nearly every case, winning wasnt the same as getting it enforced.

CORE- Similar to the NAACP but most members were middle class white people, CORE also targeted segregation using non-violent direct methods such as boycotts, sit-ins of segregated places. CORE had a lot more influence than other groups of people who tried these methods.

Church organisations- Black clergymen were often involved in the civil rights movement because: they were supported by the church (wouldnt matter if lost theier jobs for speaking out against segregation), they were educated, they could negotiate ebcause of their status and they had a good network of contacts.

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White response to these Civil Rights Groups,

There were conflicting attitudes towards these organisations: some approved because it was non-violent and many white political figures would favour meetings with black clergy men. However, some were suspicious of Black american churches as the white saw it as a threat.

KKK- Ku Klux Klan- KKK was a white supremist group, they said they had a strong 'christian' morality yet still discriminated against minorities. They were responsible for hrassing, attacking, bombing and lynching minorities. At 1925, they had many many members.

DixieCrats- political opposition- This group was made up of southern democrats who had formed their own party rather than support the civil rightd bill put forwards by truman in 1948. By 1954, they rejoined the democrats but kept their strong views on segregation. There was enough dixiecrats that the president needed their support, so they were listened to. Any attempts to produce a civil rights act was blocked by the Dixiecrats. 

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The Murder Of EmmetTill

Emmet Till was a 14yr old boy who was visiting relatives in 1955, when he went into a shop to talk to Roy Byrants's (owner) wife. There is conflicitng evidence of what happened, Carolyn said Till grabbed her and made sexual suggestions but his cousins said he didn't. The next day Roy Byrant went to Till's uncles hosue and dragged him off. They beat him, shot him, threw him into a river with a weight tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was found three days later.

His mother chose to have an open viewing of the body which led to huge publicity and shock among black and white people. She chsoe to do this to show the world what two white men had done to a defenceless young boy. The trial of Till's killers were reported across the country but they went free. 

Emmet did NOT get justice but his case was significant in the history of civil rights as it showed how public outrage won support for civil rights, sparking movement.

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Progress in education,

Brown vs Topeka ruling reversed Plessy, so sparked off many other desegregatin campaigns that lead to more legal victories. Additionally, the southern 'border' states (furthest north) int4roduced desegregated schools in the year immediately following the BVT ruling. 723 school districts became desegregated. 

However, it wsa also met with extreme white backlash, with black children who had previously been integrated into 'white' schools becoming targets of violence (so were those who tried to defend them, NAACP).

Did schools become desegregated?

Many schools said they did but nothing happened, governors of some states demanded resistance to desegregation saying they would close schools who tried to desgregate, they tried to set up a White Citizen council to preserve segregation, KKK membership grew, local groups were set up to fight desegregation. Many black people thought they were in a worse position after Brown.

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Little Rock

Following brown, Little Rock began to desegregate their high school- 75 black students applied and 25 were accepted (after abuse only 9 were willing to attend, becoming the little rock 9). When term began, the governor (who opposed desegregation) sent 250 state troops to keep black students from going in. A member of NAACP organised the nine to go in protected but one missed the message and was met by the mob.

Many other high schools had problems like this but Little Rock had the most publicity, outrage in and out of the USA was enormous and the Little Rock 9 were famous.

President Eisenhower did not want to enforce integration but when the situation worsened and worldwide publicity increased he was forced to act. Eisenhower ordered his troops to remove the state troops, he sent over 1000 federal troops to Little Rock and had to go on TV to explain himself. The federal troops stayed to make sure the little rock 9 were safe to get to clasbut they couldn't stop any abuse in the classroom or at home.

The governor of Little Rock closed every school to make integration impossible however white parents forced him to open again.

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Political oppostion to Brown and Coping methods,

Many schools resisted in less obvious ways:

-Drew up plans for desegregation slowly,

-allowed a few black students into each year group,

-black and white students attended the same school but were segregated within it,

-introduced tests to decide which children went to which school but the tests were fixed.

-only desegreagted a few schools out of a large area,

Coping with Oppostion,

NAACP and CORE sent representatives to work with the families involved with desgegregated schools. CORE produced a leaflet into respondonding in non-violent ways. However all the advice could not prepare the families for what they had to face. Black Americans felt there were very few white people they could trust and many white people were scared to give support.

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Montgomery Bus Boycott,

The MBB was a political and social protest against segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. It lasted from the 5th of August 1955 to the 20th Dec 1956. It was the first large scale demonstration against segregation.

Four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks was arrested fro not giving her seat to a white man. The womens politcal council started cirulating the idea for the boycott. News spread fast and around 40,000 African-american bus riders boycotted the system.

On the 5th black leaders met to form the Montgomery improvement association (MIA), which elected Martin Luther King Jr to be the leader and to manage the boycott.

African Americans represented 75% of Montgomery's bus riderhsip yet their simple demands were not met. Finally on June 5th 1956, Montogemery federal court ruled that any law requiring racial segregation on buses violated the 14th amendment so the city appelaed to the supreme court. Montgomerys buses were integrated on December 21, 1956. 

Integration was met with significant resistance and violence, they also maintained segregated bus stops. Snipers fired into the buses.

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Explain why the boycott was successful,

Three points for an exam question would be commitment, publicity and organisation.

The boycotters persisted despite: threats, loss of jobs & loans, going to jail and bombing resulting in even more publicity. Pople were well informed about the event and MIA meetings meant everyone was involbved with decisions. Exisiting groups in Montgomery meant they had contacts and support, it was all well coordinated  by the MIA.

Importance of the boycott,

-Showed that black people could organise mass resistance and that civil rights campaigns could attract lots of support.

-It brought Martin Luther King into an influential position,

-showed the importance of publicity into civil rights fight,

-it was when the rules for non-violent direct action was established,

-it showed how black non-violent action set off a negative violent black response.

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The 1957 Civil rights act,

After brown, the Mongtomery bus boycott and thw hite backlash that followed, there was an increasing sympathy for civil rights in the USA. They wanted federal intervention however it still faces much opposition.

The biggest opposition was the Dixiecrats because they were so influential and fiercly opposed any bill supporting civil rights for black americans.

The Act was finally signed on 9th september 1957. However prosecutuions would be tried by a jury , made up of all white members so it is unlikely that they would do anything but dismisss any prosecutions.

How effective was it?

It faced widespread opposition when it was signed and even Eisenhower spoke against it saying it was forcing change on people.

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Protests;Greensboro sit-in 1960

CORE and SCLC trained students in non-violetn protests, on the 15th of April 1960, there was a meeting in North Carolina when the 'Student Non-violent coordianting commitee',SNCC, was set up. They provided training against hostility following the same principles as CORE: demonstrate peacefully & visibly, do not rise to provacation and show your opponent as the violent oppressor.

1960 Greensboro:

1st Feb 1960, four black students sat at a lunch counter waiting to be served, the lunch counter was segregated and the staff refused, asking the students to leave. They didn't and stayed until closing, the next day around 25 students arrived and sat down at the counter in shifts, the local papers reported this quickly. By the 4th, 300 students sat in shifts, black,white,male and female students. Within weeks, the sit-ins were spreading and it was national news. Thousands of young black and white people took part.

Significance: helped spread publicity for sit-ins, after some white southernors joined the cause, it was a very visible form of protest that was hard to ignore-promoting publicity, showed the world the violence the peaceful protestors would face, showed white and black americans standing together for change.

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Protests; freedom riders

In 1961, CORE activists decided to ride buses from the north to the deep south to test if desegregation was happening. They knew it was not. On 15th May, the first bus reached Alabama; over 100 KKK members surronded it, slashing th tyres and windows then a firebomb was thrown in and the doors were held shut. The passengers escaped just before the petrol tank exploded.

Riders on the second bus were pulled out and beaten up. The birmingham police did NOT stop the KKK members. The press coverage was a huge embarassement to the governement

The SNCC did not let the KKK win and sent another bsu from Nashville to Birmingham. This time the federal government escorted them safetly but a riot broke out at the montgomery bus station and hundreds of the KKK attacked the press and riders.

Despite the violence, more people volunteered for Freedom rides, the southern states started escorting them to their destination but arresting them when they arrived.

Over the summer there were 60 freedom rides, over 300 riders went to jail. On the 20th Nov, federal government said they would enforce desegregation if they did not obey . The southern  states began to desegregate bus facilities and the freedom rides ended.

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Protests; James Meredith Case 1962

James Meredith had re-applied to a univeristy of Mississippi in 1962 when the NAACP had challenged his rejectio saying it was because he was black. The supreme court ordered the univeristy to admit him but university officials and Ross Barnett, state governor, disobeyed.

On 30th Sep, Meredith returned to register with the backing of 500 federal officials. A mob of 3,000 attacked the officials.

President Kennedy spoke on the television and radio asking for calm. Fires were started, bricks and firebombs were thrown and guns were fired. Two civilians died, between 245-375 civilians were injured and over 160 federal marshals were badly injured.

Kennedy sent federal troops to stop the ritoing.

Meredith registered on the 1st oct, troops guarded him for the year it took him to graduate.

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Significance of the freedom rides and Meredith

The freedom rides were signifidcant as it showed resilience and commitment to the cause even against vioelnce. It showed federal intervention for the cause, hwoever they did ignore it on more than one ocassion leading us to ask, did they really support the cause?

The James Meredith Case was on a smaller scale but it aslo showed federal intervention when Kennedy sent the troops shwoing that they weren't to be messed with when it came to desgegregation.

They both had large publicity but in my option the freedom rides were more significant as it had a larger impact on the black communities day-to-day life as they used buses more.

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Alabama Campaign

The campaign in Birmingham, Alabama of 1963 was towards ending segregation. Protests involved sit-ins, ,*** meetings, boycotts of shops. Many protestors went to jail, when the adults were jailed the young black people took their place with a marhc. When the jails were full, 'Bull' connor (governor) told the police to use dogs and firehoses to scare people off.

You could say it was signinficant because photos of the event were spread causing worldwide horror meaning much publicity. President Kennedy said he was sick and ashamed to see it, mainly because it gave the USSR propaganda ammunition. On the 10th of May an agreement was p***ed resulting in the desegregation of many of birminghams public facilities. It helped awaken the 'moral conscience' of the nation.

You could say it was not successful as the protestors faced alot of abuse, violent ***aults and jailing. Also not every aspect was desegregated, could have been more effective.

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Various campaigns

The March on Washington 1963, A protest for jobs and freedom, over 250,000 people took part, the largest poltical gathering of all time. It was here that the kind madde his famous 'i have a dream speech'. It was significant as it showed: that there was huge support for civil rights in the USA, black and white people protested together showing support from all classes.

Mississippi murders, On 21st June two white volunteers and a black CORE worker were murdered by the KKK. Their bodies were not found until the 4th August. It was significant for its publicity but it also put off white volunteers

Freedom Summer 1964, SNCC and CORE volunteers went to Mississippi to work with local campaigners on projects in the local ocmmunity. There were schools set up for black children and voter registration classes and black people were allowed to vote. Significant because: brought problems with voting to light, people were attacked, 1,600 more people could vote.

Selma 1965, protests started over the unfair voting, they were attacked with tear gass and clubs. Showed how change was still being faced with violence. Both white and black protestors were involved.

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Civil Rights acts n voting act 1964 VS 1965

Civil Rights act of 1964 postitives- banned discrimination on voter regristration tests, banned discrimination in public spaces, banned job discrimination, gave governmetn the power to enforce school desgregation, gave government the right to remove funding from states.

Negatives- Made significant changes in theory but did not necessarily abolish discrimmination, there was nothing to impose fair voter registration and schools n businesses found ways around the desegregation laws.

Voting rights of 1965 positives- federal officials ran voter registration classes in any states and in all states where under 50% of the population voted. There were 76,593 more voters. 

negatives- registration was a slow process, there was a growing level of frustration among black people for how far the campaign actually improved their lives.

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Malcolm X

Born Malcolm little but replacing a salve surname with X for the unknown tribal name of his ancestors, Macolm joined the Nation of Islam NOI after going to prison, Noi shares Muslim beliefs but believed in black nationalism. They believed that black Americans should have their own state and not try to intergrate. Malcolm became a NOI minister as he as clever, articulate and passionate.

Malcolm X rejected non-violent methods especially when white supremists were still using violence against them. He critised ML King for trying to work with white people. He thought white people would always see black americans as second-class citizens.

In 1964 Malcom X left the NOI to set up his own organisation, the NOI sent him death threats and preached against him. After a pilgramige to Mecca, he changed his views and decided to accept white help. He held meetings with SNCC and CORE. 

This shift in belief made the NOI determined to kill him, they firebombed his house and he had to travel everywhere with guards. On the 21st Feb 1965 he was shot by the NOI and over 15,000 people went to his funeral. Many people were starting to reject non-violence and saw black nationalism as the next step in civil rights.

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Black Power and Stokely Carmicheal

From 1963, there was a growing number of people who started to reject non-violent methods, from this a new protest emerged: the black power movement. They encouraged black people to: be proud of their heritage and culture, reject help from white people, argue against forced integration, followed Malcolm X's earlier beliefs, look for a revolution. Black power campaigns focused on local issues and gained support from the poor.

SC- After the voting rights act, SNCC continued to help help people to vote. Mnay people said there was noone to vote for who cared about civil rights. SC set up the Loundes country freedom organisation as a party to represent black americans. The party symbol was a panther and the panther became the symbol of black rights. In May 1966, SC was elected chairman of the SNCC-n he believed in non-violetn direct action but felt the need for a change.

March against fear- James Meredith led MAF through Mississippi and was shot on the second day, while he was in hospital MLK and SC led the march. SC had more radical beliefs and CORE n SNCC were losing white supporters.

The Mexico OLympics 1968, 2 black medal winners gave the black power salute when given the medals. It was a huge shock,inspiring young people. They were suspended and sent death threats.

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The Black panthers

The Black panthers were one of the largest black power groups, they gained publicity from carrying guns. The panthers believed that white officials and police did not support the black community. They were willing to work with white people who shared similar beliefs.

They: patrolled the streets in black communities, worked to create cooperation between gangs, controlled traffic around schools, ran courses on black history and rights, carried guns for self-defence, organised medical help for the poor, ran breakfast clubs for poor children, pressed for better conditions in the ghettos.

Positives: helped improve living conditions in ghetto communities, improved the lives of many black americans.

Negatives: They were arrested for robbing banks to fund their projects, policing the streets provoked the police, they engaged in shoot-outs.

By late 1968, 25 cities were being helped by the panthers but there were never more than 2,000 panthers at one time.

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Civil Rights Movement 1965-75: Riots

Why were there riots?

Police discrimination, police were concerned with harassing young black men instead of keeping them safe and were quick to shoot. They shot 65 black people, 27 in the back and 25 unarmed. Discrimianiton by white officials, city officials did not respond to complaints about bad conditions or harassment. They were still twice as likely to be unemployed, they mostly had low-paid, unskilled jobs. Meaning they were twice as likely to be poor. They also had poor education as schools had poor fudnign and conditions.

Riots; between 1964 and 1968 there were 329 major riots in 257 major US cities. Which resulted in 220 deaths, 8,371 servere injuries and over 50,000 arrests. The first large scale ebing in new york after the civil rights act was passed, riots followed in nothern cities. 

Over 80% of the riots were young black men and had the support of the community. Black violence was aimed at properties not people. More black people died in the riots than white. More black people joined black power groups and publicity was given on the ghettos problems. President johnson said the riots convinced him to put more money into improving the ghettos

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The Kerner Report, 1968

In July 1967, President Johnson set up an enquiry into the riots, the 1968  report stated that: the riots were the result of poor conditions brought on by segregation and discrimination,

-the riots came after white officals failed to fix problems that the black community had pointed out,

-white officials did not listen to the black communites problems,

-police should change their unfair treatment of black people,

-during the riots police had made it worst by using violence,

-federal money given after the riots was instead spent on training the police NOT fixing the problems,

-there was no serious attempt to improve the ghettos or to win the trust of the black community,

-the media had exaggerated the riots including damage, life loss and federal aid.

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King's campaign in the north,

King was shocked on his visit to Watts and wanted to show that his non-violent method still worked. When the CCCO asked the SCLC to join a non-violent campaign for fairer hosuing they accepted.

Jan 1966, the SCLC officially announced plans for a chicago freedom movement and King went the chicago where he called for meetings but some of chicago's black politicians opposed.The SCLC also found it hard to connect with ghetto gangs as ML Kings preaching was much less effective.

King faced very different oppostion that in the south as Chicago's mayor was also non-violent, sounding supportive but not actuslly taking any action. The Chicago freedom movement planned to march through white neighbours to provoke sympathy and publicity. However before it happened, a riot broke out and King was abused for his lack of success in Chicago. State troops were called and blamed the SCLC for the riot. They went ahead with the march but the publicity was no where near as supportive. However, Chicago's mayor did agree to a fair housing practice and King n the SCLC thought their job was done.

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King's campaign a failure?

King spoke of it as a success as there was peaceful demonstration and an agreement that helped black people find jobs in white-owned businesses (which became a key protest organistaion Chicago). However, it was also seen as a failure because:

-There had been violence on both sides during the campaign and King could not stop it,

-Chicago's governor had ignored the agreement and the housing policies did not change,

-The CCCO found it hard to keep up when the SLCL and ML King left,

-The government did not push Chicago Mayor to carry out the agreement and relations between President Johnson and King were strained becuase he opposed the Vietnam war publicly,

Later Martin Luther King Jr was assasinated, 4th April 1968, when he was hsot on a balcony in Tennesse at the time when he was planning a campaign for the poor, not just poor black people.

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Responses to ML Kings death,

Short term- There were many riots, by the day of his funeral: 32 black people were dead, over 3,5000 seriously injured and 27,000 arrested additionally 45 million dollars of damage had been caused. The poor people's campaign did go ahead. However it failed, the SLCL leaders and protestors argued and the camp broke up. The 1968 civil rights act was passed quickly and included a section on fair housing, it also gave federal protection to civil rights workers. However it did make the punishment for rioting more severe.

Long term- National civil rights groups lost membership, funding and support from white people,King was the person most white people supported so his death accelerated white people's oppostion to black peoples demands for equality. Many black people became more radical after Kings death. SNCC changed the non-violent in their name to national, they lost all of their original members. The result of more violence meant they were less likely to come to any agreements concerning civil rights.

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Richard Nixon's policies and progress in 1975

Richard Nixon became president in 1969, he was pro-civil rights but needed to make sure he didnt lose the southern vote- which was still largely against civil rights.

Nixon did te following- Set up funding and trainig  for black people to start setting up businesses, he gave tax breaks to white owned businesses that set up in black neighbourhoods, he pressed ofr affirmative action (deliberate choosing of a black person instead of a white person for jobs), the made sure there were more black officials in the white house.

Progress by 1975,

-By 1970, the voting rights act was revised to ban literacy tests,

-By 1975, the fight for equality for black americans was far from won with desegreagtion often being patchy and useless.

-Lotsof progress had been made but there were still some things that needed to change.

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Answering Q's,

1. What i can infer:

Something that is not outwardly told could be, 'Black people were segregated about in public places'

2. Detail that tells me this:

Quote the part of the source that tells you this, no explanation needed.

Explain why Questions..

3 paragraphs exaplaning seperate reasons for or against and then a conclusion.

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