History: Race Relations USA

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  • Created by: lucylulou
  • Created on: 14-06-16 10:54

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

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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

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Living Standards

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

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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.

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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.

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Black Power Protests

Mexico Olympics > negative response

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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

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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
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