Rosa Parks & Montgomery Bus Boycott
Dec 1955, Rosa Parks arrested for not giving up her seat for a white person on a bus. She was then convicted and fined > she also lost her job
Rosa went to the NAACP and agreed to become a test case
There was a one-day bus boycott > this escalated and actually lasted 12 months
Black Americans walked to work or organised carpools > bus companies losing money > white groups retaliated
MLK was arrested for speeding Jan 1956. Other carpool drivers & passengers arrested. MLK's house was bombed, but the boycott continued
During these 12 months, 17,000 Black Americans in Montogomery refused to use the bus service > in the end the US Supreme Court made bus segregation illegal (Dec 1956)
June 1956, segregation made illegal > major victory for Civil Rights movement of 50s
Little Rock High School, 1957
1954, the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was illegal > however, little action was taken to desegregate
Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus did not want desegregation. Nine black students registered to attend Little Rock High School > Faubus sent out the National Guard to stop the students attending
This was seen on TV in the USA > shocking. Then the President Eisenhower tried to persuade Faubus > failed. Large white mob formed when the 9 students tried to get in.
Little Rock Nine escorted into school by the President's paratroopers. They stayed for a year. Only one of the students graduated due to the impossible conditions
Four of the parents of the students lost their jobs. KKK membership grew. Even when Little Rock reopened as a desegregated school in 1960, only 3% were black
The event did show America the scale of the problem
Jim Crow Laws played an important role in damaging Black American's quality of life
- Limited job opportunites > many moved to North (Great Migration)
- Limited sportsmen chances
- 50% ofBlack Americans lived in poverty
After WW2, expectations were high > they had been shown how life could be better. They had fought against Hitler's racism, yet change in USA was very slow
Not allowed to live in suburbs > so set up own communities. These grew as people moved North (eg. Chicago)
Black Americans were no longer prepared to sit back and let things continue as they had done before the war - events lat Montgomery and Little Rock had shown this
Freedom Rides, 1961
How effective were the methods used by members of the Civil Rights movement between 1961 and 1968?
1960, US Supreme Court: racial segregation on interstate buses illegal
2 students tested this change > sat at the front of the bus > led to 'freedom rides'
Group of 13 students (7 black, 6 white) chosen to go on a journey from Washington DC through to the Deep South (most opposition):
- May 1961, left Washington
- KKK members got on bus, beat up the riders and slashed the tyres
- No bus driver willing to take them
- Freedom riders flew to New Orleans. 10 then arrived in Birmingham > were arrested
- On way back to Montgomery, attacked by KKK and seriously injured
- MLK spoke to the riders in a church (protected by National Guard)
- 27 riders, Montogomery > Jackson, arrested
328 more riders arrested by end of Summer > did lead to desegregation on buses tho.
Freedom Marches (Washington 1963)
Unemployment and poverty now on a massive scale for Black Americans > marches for 'jobs and freedom'
In 1962 and 1963, there were hundreds on marches and demonstrations.
Most important march: March on Washington DC, Aug 1963
- Carefully planned to not turn into riots
- Marchers set off from all over USA and met at the Washington monument before dawn, then they marched to the Lincoln Memorial where MLK made his speech
- MLK's famous 'I have a dream speech' > equality, a better future for all, importance of non-violent resistance
- Brought civil rights to the public's attention
President John F Kennedy, met with the leaders of the Freedom Marches to congratulate them
Sadly, less than 3 weeks later 4 young girls were killed from a bomb in Birmingham > race riots broke out and 2 more youths were killed. Bomb meant to stop desegregation, but actually shocked the public and built support for the Civil Rights movement.
Black Power Protests
Mexico Olympics > negative response
Black Power Movement, 60s
SNCC, set up by Stokely Carmichael, originally non-violent > became violent
MLK's peaceful protests were effective, but others thought that there were other ways forward
Malcolm X - Nation of Islam
Black Panther Party
Black Power Movement (overall): purpose was to promote Black American culture and identity, they were hands on in their work but didn't actually want desegredation, they wanted superiority of white people
Protest Organiser: MLK
How Important was Martin Luther King in the fight for Civil Rights in USA?
Member of the NAACP. Worked with Edgar Nixon to organise the Montgomery Bus Boycott, agree on non-violent protest.
- Bus Boycott
- Southern Christian Leadership Conference