Civil Right Period
African Americans-Civil Rights Period
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?
Birth of modern civil rights movement.
NAACP changes society through law, but is not relevant to everyday black
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.
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
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.
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.
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.