Segment descriptions
 
Minorities in America Series:
 
African-Americans:
     Civil Right Period
      
          Description: Civil Rights 1

Sampler
African Americans-Civil Rights Period
    
sampler  3’-21”    (26’ lecture).

Why is the landmark civil rights legislation started by President Johnson cut short, and what is the logic that social uprisings are seen not during times of hopelessness, but instead when there is a spark of hope?
               play sampler

 

 

1

 

 

Birth of modern civil rights movement.  NAACP changes society through law, but is not relevant to everyday black people’s needs.
Decade of the 50s:  1954 Supreme Court ruling overturns “separate but equal” education law of Brown versus Topeka Board of Education.  This is fiercely resisted by the South.  Issue of law versus law enforcement.  President Eisenhower reluctantly enforces school integration.  Rosa Parks, bus integration hero
Emmitt Till’s murder
shocks the nation, gives impetus to civil rights movement.  The role of the churches.  The risk of everyday people encountering and resisting discrimination.
 

2

 

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.  A Baptist minister.  Advocates passive resistance to unjust laws.  Experiences jail terms, threats.  Robert Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General, is sympathetic to King, but J. Edgar Hoover regards King as public enemy # 1.
 

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Freedom Summer, 1964.  Black and white civil rights workers go south and register blacks to vote.  Two whites, Goodman & Schwerner, and one black, Chaney, are found tortured and murdered, arousing the nation’s conscience.  Media images of dogs, water hoses attacking demonstrators. 
The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act
are enacted in 1960s by Lyndon Johnson, a Southerner.  Also various social programs tend to decrease the poverty gap, increase educational opportunities.  Failure is due to the Vietnam War which diverts social funding.  Riots in cities, seen as caused by thwarting of rising expectations.
 

4

 

 

Resistance to segregation
March on Washington
led by Martin Luther King, with JFK not in favor but he welcomes it when it seems inevitable.  Lyndon Johnson’s legislation.  Black organizations:
Black Panther Party’s message is opposite of King’s: return violence with violence.  State violence always greater than any from organizations.  Muslim support among blacks, some blacks turn to Islam.  In slavery times religion often fosters slavery. 
Nation of Islam
believes all whites are evil, attracts members.  Promotes purity of body, aids abstention from alcohol and drugs.  Malcolm X.  His early life as a petty gangster, converts to Islam while in prison, becomes member of Nation of Islam. 
Advocates violence for violence.  Changes name because his originates in slavery times.  Toward the end of his life he modifies his racial views, addresses social and economic issues. He is assassinated.  Value of charismatic leaders who cannot be replaced when gone.
 

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Backlash.  The gap between rich and poor widens.  Sentencing procedures with mandatory long prison terms for small time drug offenses penalize black disproportionately.  College involvement lessens.  The present lacks the optimism seen in the 1960s.  Apathy, fatalism often exists.  Yet some gains remain.  De facto segregation skirts desegregation law, increasing segregated society.  Yet the absolute Jim Crow laws lessened.  Gains are not permanent; there can be reversions.  A way to keep people down is to deny them their history.  Rediscovering the past is a strengthening, helps to understand the present, and reflects future possibilities.