Civil Rights Methods


Freedom Rides 1961

  • Groups of activists rode on buses in Birmingham Alabama
  • Organised by CORE leader James Farmer
  • Young blacks tried to excercise their legal rights
  • They gained the name of freedom riders and were the subject to alot of racial abuse and violence from whites
  • There were 60 freedom rides many crossing state boundaries which involved 450 people
  • 200 freedom riders were arrested and put in jail
  • The Governor of Alabama acted to protect the freedom riders after pressure from J F Kennedy (clear suppoter of equality)
  • It was made clear that the law against segregation applied to interstate buses as well as local ones
  • Through the medium of television, civil rights became a national issue
  • When the 1st bus reached alabama its tyres were slashed and the bus was set on fire. The Mob tried to trap the doors so the passengers would be burned alive
  • 2nd bus was attacked by the KKK and police with clubs//chains
  • CORE SNCC and SCLC all ignored the plea to stop as it was causing civil unrest
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Failure at Albany

  • 1961 SNCC students campaigned in Albany Georgia for desegregation - sitins/freedom rides
  • King led a march and met the city council(much to the annoyance of the SNCC)
  • The police refused to use violence and simply arrested and fined 1000 protestors
  • King ran out of supporters prepared to be jailed
  • The council closed parks/sold swimming pools and took all libary seats out instead of desegregating
  • King believed Albany to be a failure
  • A black voter registration campaign was successful once he left
  • 1962 the city desdegregated all its facilities
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Freedom Marches 1963 - Birmingham

  • Birmingham had a strong reputation for racism and Bull Connor(head of police) was racist and hot headed - he would react badly  to any AA attempts to gain sympathy
  • Project C - confrontation. Demonstrations began w/ sitinsand successions of marches where King was arrested
  • Initial support was poor so MLK recruited 1000 school children to join a march. The police attacked w/ water hoses, dogs and batons
  • Media Outcry. Nationally public opinion was outraged. Birmingham was forced to desegregate.
  • King was thrown into solitary confinement + the KKK bombed his motel
  • Blacks rioted. TV images of brave, non-violent protestors being attacked by the police and racists created a huge groundswell of middle class support
  • Many whits felt betrayed by the federal government
  • Sept 1963 KKK bomb killed 4 AA children in Birmingham church
  • Over the USA, there were many marches and demonstrations in more than 100 cities
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Washington March 1963

  • August 1963 King organised a march which drew 250000 people (75000 white).
  • I have a dream speech watched by milllions on TV.
  • Infront of Lincoln memorial (person who ended slavery)
  • Finished by looking forward to a time when blacks in the words of the ***** spirit would be free at last
  • End of 1963 - MLK leader of civil rights movement. Proved he could manipulate the media and the government supported him - more moderate than other campaigners.
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  • 1965 King went to Selma Alabama - knew Sheriff Jim Clark could be violent
  • King knew non violent protests make people inflict violence on you - As a result, they gain bad publicity and destroy their own case
  • Bloody Sunday 7 March, brutality against the marchers was such that there was a national outrage when shown on TV
  • This outcry was 1 reason why President Lyndon Johnson Voting Rights Act passed through congress 
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Ghetto Riots

  • MLK + civil right success seemed irrelevant to blacks living in poor areas of american cities - where poverty, deprivation and unemployment were rife
  • Chicago ghettos - 70% black youths were unemployed
  • Poor housing led to violence and crime
  • 32% ghetto children finished high school
  • 1965 - clumsy and brutal attempt by police to arrest a black drunk driver led to riots in Watts in LA
  • Between 1964-68 there were 238 riots in more than 200 cities. Resulted in 250 deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage
  • SCLC and NAACP knew little about ghettos
  • Black activists worked in ghettos
  • 1964 CORE rented freedom houses in the Norther ghettos from which they distributed info on education, employment, health and housing
  • 1966 - SNCC mounted the Atlanta project where students cleared waste areas,published newsletters denouncing white lies in the press and persuaded local blacks to vote in elections
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Nation of Islam and Malcolm X

  • Black movement formed in 1930 - nationalist/separatist + soloutions to blacks problems were to return to africa or a seperate black US state in the South
  • King labelled them a hate group and NAACP leader Marshall called them a bunch of thugs
  • 250,000 members by 1970 - inc. Muhammas Ali and Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X = vigorous and agressive + joined NoI while in prison for drug dealing
  • 'Alternative Dr King'. Rejected Kings turn the other cheek non violence and argued white policies left blacks w/ no alternative but violence
  • After 1959 documentary the hate that hate produced, he became famous
  • 1964 suspended from NoI after welcoming Kennedys assassination
  • New York home firebombed in 1964
  • Assassinate in 1965 by a NoI gunman
  • Became a role model for angry young blacks
  • forced Americas black leaders to refocus their attention away from civil and legal rights and instead on social and economic conditions
  • introduced idea of violence as a legitimate tactic
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Black Power

  • CORE and SNCC worked in ghettos and became more radicalised - left wing/socialist and became racially charged and violent
  • 1966 SNSS chose Stokely Carmichael as leader and expelled all white members. 
  • C rejected non-violencee and advocated self defence
  • Phrase Black Power after speech in Greenwood Mississippi after the Meredith March.
  • C was suceeded by H Rap Brown who encouraged poor blacks to seize white shops and thus directly caused a number of ghetto riots later on
  • 1966 radical Floyd McKissick took over CORE which expelled white members in 1968 and rejected non-violence
  • The black power movement wanted to increase awareness of AA culture - it wanted pride of roots and culture
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Mexico Olympics Boycott 1968

  • Tommie Smith and John Carlos AA sprinters came 1st and 3rd in the 200m race
  • They went on the podium in black socks and no shoes
  • One wore a black scarf (black pride) and the other black beads (Slaves and lynchings)
  • They did a black power salute with a clenched fist in the air
  • End of ceremoney, they athletes were booed. Their actions were criticised by many americans for bringing internal american politics to the games
  • They were members of the Olympic project for human rights. founded in 1967 to protest dicrimination against blacks in sport
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Black Panthers

  • Huey Newton formed the black panther party in 1966 as a response to police brutality in the Watts riots
  • The party had a 10 point programme - land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace
  • peaked 5000 members organised into 30 'chapters'
  • 1968-69, momentarily merged with SNCC
  • Forged links w/ communist freedom fighters all over the world
  • In LA, it set up health clinics and an ambulance and gave free breakfasts to ghetto children
  • attacked the police if they began harrasising blakcs
  • Numerous panthers were shot, notably in the gun battle that followed police ambush in 1968
  • California decided it would recruit policemen in proportion to the size of b&w population in the state
  • The FBI labelled them a hate group.
  • Leaders were targetted and jailed and movement fizzled out in 1970
  • Stirred up hatred t the Vietnam War when most whites supported US involvement
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