History AS - Civil Rights

Condensed notes on the Civil Rights Movement from the year 1945 - 1974.

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Presidents during the movement:

1945 - 52 - Truman - Red Scare, McCarthy (used his power to use an Executive Order to de-segregate the army)

1952 - 61 - Eisenhower - Red Scare, McCarthy (Gradualism)

1961 - 63 - Kennedy - Cuban Missile Crisis

1963 - 68 - Johnson - Cuban Missile Crisis

 1968 - 74 - Nixon

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Martin Luther King Successes/Failures


  • Montgomery Bus Boycott - 1955/6 - Hit economy hard, showed great organisation & support.
  • Freedom Rides - 1961 - Exposed brutality
  • March on Washington - 1963 - Showed significance of support and peace
  • Birmingham Campaign - 1963 - Media coverage, Bull Connor
  • Civil Rights Act - 1964 - Seperate but equal


  • Albany - 1961 - Unsuccessful peaceful protest
  • Chicago - 1966 - Could not relate to South (North had big cities & poverty)
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Civil Rights Organisations

NAACP - Founded in New York (King was part of it) took legal action and gave legal advice

SNCC - Southern students founded it, organised sit-ins in white only areas 

Black Panthers - Violent southern group, idea of black pride 

SCLC - First President was Marting Luther King, founded in Atlanta, Georgia (southern) 

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Key Terms

De Jure - legal fact

De Facto - social opinion

Radicalism - violent behaviour for a cause 

Moderates - peaceful protests for a cause

Segregation - separating two groups of people, segregationists - people who support it, white southerners mostly 

State laws - states can impose their own laws but can be overruled by government

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Chronological Order of Events

Slavery abolished - 1865

1948 July 26 – President Harry S. Truman issues Executive Order 9981 ordering the end of segregation in the Armed Forces.

1954 May 17 – The Supreme Court rules against the "separate but equal" doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education of, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, thus overturning Plessy v. Ferguson "With all deliberate speed"

1955 January 15 – President D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order, establishing the President's Committee on Government Policy to enforce a nondiscrimination policy in Federal employment.

1955 May 31 – The Supreme Court rules in "Brown II" that desegregation must occur with "all deliberate speed".

1955 August 28 – Teenager Emmett Till is killed for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi. (Emmet Till was northern, had no idea how bad the south was) 

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Chronological Order of Events Cont.

1955 December 1 – Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus, starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

 1955/6 Montgomery Bus Boycott

1957 January – Southern Christian Leadership Conference formed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is named chairman of the organization

1957 September – President Dwight Eisenhower federalizes the National Guard and also orders US Army troops to ensure Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas is integrated. Federal and National Guard troops escort the Little Rock Nine (9 particularly clever black students integrated) Uproar. 

1957 September 27 – Civil Rights Act of 1957 signed by President Eisenhower.

1960 February 1 – Four black students sit at the Woolworth's lunch counter in GreensboroNorth Carolina, sparking six months of the Greensboro Sit-Ins.

1960 February 20 – Virginia Union University students stage sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter in Richmond, Virginia

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Chronological Order of Events Cont.

1961 - Freedom rides

1963 - March on Washington

1963 - Birmingham campaign 

1965 August 6 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Johnson

1966 - Chicago failure 

1966 October – Black Panthers founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.

1968 April 4 – Dr. Martin Luther King is shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray.

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Radical/Moderate Groups


Black Panthers
Marcus Garvey
Malcolm X
Nation of Islam


SNCC (closer to radicals)
SCLC (closer to radicals)

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White Supremacy

White supremacists used intimidating groups and ideas to keep segregation in place, also used to scare blacks.

KKK were used to scare black civillians as they would pick up black men which they had judged to have done something wrong and, kill/torture/lynch them and leave them for public display. They rarely came to justice over these killings. 

In southern states they introduced a tax for the vote, and also added literacy tests before being able to vote, many blacks were at this time uneducated and therefore unable to vote. 

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Martin Luther King

Leader or lead?

King had been described as more of a hinderance than a help. 

King appeared to turn up at events and spoke, never really did anything and was from a fairly decent background.

Was an influential speaker but never seemed to help the cause too much.

However, his idea of peaceful protests and non-violence was a very successful, respectful movement. 

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