Civil Rights Movement

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  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 26-10-12 18:07

Direct action became the movement’s salient strategic weapon by the mid-1950’s. The Highlander Folk School in Tennessee began to discuss strategic non-violence with civil rights workers such as Rosa Parks of the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the NAACP, who upon her return from Highlander was arrested for failing to give up her seat for a white man as a test case challenging the city’s racist ordinances.  A bus boycott was organized under the leadership of the newly-founded Montgomery Improvement Association, which became headed by the then 26-year old Rev  Martin Luther King. The boycott involved 42,000 people, lasted 381 days, and economically crippled the municipal bus service, resulting in the successful integration of all city buses. 

The Montgomery Bus Boycott energized young African-Americans to support a broader civil rights based upon strategic non-violent direct action. King, riding the wave of energy created in Montgomery, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Baynard Rustin, William H. Borders, Charles K. Steele and Fred Shuttlesworth in 1957. Together they asked President Eisenhower for a White House Conference on Civil Rights. When the president refused, SCLC responds by leading 25,000 people in a prayer march on the Lincoln Memorial. Speakers called for non-violent struggle, boycotts, work slow-downs and strikes. In the wake of the event, which remained peaceful, Wichita and Oklahoma City are targeted by sit-ins. The United States Congress, reacting to events, authorized the Justice Department in the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to sue on behalf of African Americans that are still unable to vote in the Southern States. Meanwhile, nine students created a national crisis as they tried to be the first African Americans to enrol at the newly desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. When the governor the Arkansas National Guard tried to prevent them from entering the school, public outcry led to a new judicial ruling and intervention by federal troops. CORE continued its work in the Northern States while SCLC focused on…


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