The Development of the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-60


The Position of Black Americans in the Early 1950s

  • Black people brought to America as slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • 1865- Slavery abolished.
  • White controlled states feared the power of black Americans and were desperate to avoid revenge attacks or progression economically for them.
  • Jim Crow laws controlled the freedom of black people and segregated them.
  • KKK threatened black Americans, especially in the south. They believed they were superior to other races and had very powerful members, avoiding convictions.
  • Black people lagged behind economically, getting low wages and bad jobs.
  • Many lived in poor housing.
  • Black people were legally allowed to vote, but it was made very difficult by others by giving them difficult literacy tests. They were also threatened by KKK members, so they would avoid the vote.
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) campaigned against lynching, segregation laws and white supremacy. Also, they helped people to vote and fought for economic equality.
  • For example, the NAACP helped in the Brown vs Topeka case (1954). This led to the Supreme Court ruling against racially segregated schools.

Education & Black Civil Rights

  • Before 1954, the governor of the state judged on segregation in schools.
  • In 1954, Linda Brown's parents wanted her to attend the nearest schools (predominately white). Their request was refused, but the NAACP paid for lawyers to get desegregated schools. The Supreme court ruled against segregation after 18 months in court.
  • Some areas began to desegregate immediately, but southern states opposed this idea, and signed the Southern Manifesto to oppose…


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