Why do people stand up to a cause? The civil rights movement (1954-1968) was a movement which had the goal of granting full constitutional and legal rights for African Americans that other Americans already enjoyed. Before the civil rights movement, African Americans were discriminated against and were not equally represented by the law. They held protests and wanted leaders that would support them and bring about change.African Americans were not fairly represented by the government. They experienced widespread discrimination and segregation.
Many southern states had Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation and discrimination against African Americans. Southern states limited voting rights to people who owned property or could read well, people whose grandfathers were able to vote, people with good characters, and people who paid poll taxes. (CRF) The requirements were set in a way that most African Americans could not meet them and therefore were ineligible to vote. Additionally, a group of nine African American teenagers who became known as the Little Rock Nine were prevented from entering a desegregated high school by a rancorous mob.
On September 3, 1957, a federal judge ordered the teens to attend Central High School the next day. They were prevented from entering by a mob and the Arkansas National Guard. (SNMAAHC) Some Americans strongly supported the segregation of African American school children. The governor of Arkansas sent the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the children from attending even though the action was ruled to be unconstitutional three years earlier in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Lastly, the government supported the segregation of African Americans with the doctrine of Separate but Equal. In the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that racially separate facilities did not violate the Constitution as long as they provided equal amenities. (SNMAH) The government did not support African Americans and ruled that segregation against them was fine.People will hold protests if they are not treated fairly and equally. Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1st, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus, this event sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On 5 December, 90 percent of Montgomery’s black citizens stayed off the buses. That afternoon, the city’s ministers and leaders met to discuss the possibility of extending the boycott into a long-term campaign. (MLKREI) African Americans protested against segregated seating on buses and being forced to give up their seats to Whites if needed. Secondly, four African American college students refused to leave a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC until they were served. Many more sit-ins occurred soon after. Thousands of students in over 60 communities joined the sit-in campaign in the winter and spring of 1960. (Encyclopdia Britannica) The students conducted the sit-ins to protest against racial segregation in lunch counters. Finally, tens of thousands of people marched from Selma, Alabama to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. The marchers demanded more voting rights for African Americans and a halting of police violence against African Americans who wanted to register to vote. (Encyclopdia Britannica) African Americans were obstructed from registering to vote by the Alabama State Police.People support and follow leaders that represent them and share common interests that could benefit them. Martin Luther King Jr. led hundreds of thousands of people in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. He also delivered his famous I Have A Dream speech at the event. The March on Washington for jobs and freedom advocated for decreasing levels of unemployment, increasing wages and job mobility, and eliminating segregation and systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans. (MLKREI) Martin Luther King Jr. supported the views of many African Americans and he publicly represented them. Inspired by the activism of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for methods of nonviolent protest. ln 1957, Dr. King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization designed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. (The King Institute) Martin Luther King Jr. was an important leader to the success of the civil rights movement. Thurgood Marshall won numerous court cases that supported civil rights. He dedicated his career to ending segregation. He won multiple cases in support of civil rights, the most famous of which was Brown v. Board of Education (1954) in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. (US Courts) Thurgood Marshall reinforced efforts to advance civil rights.African Americans held protests and wanted leaders that would support them and bring about change during the civil rights movement. They were greatly discriminated against and were not equally represented by the law. African Americans were discriminated against and were not treated equally by the government. They held many protests and demonstrations in response to their experiences of not being treated fairly. They followed strong leaders that could help them and support their cause. The efforts of participants in the civil rights movement were ultimately successful. Segregation in public places and employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin was banned, African Americans were granted the full legal right to vote. The civil rights movement would not have been successful without an organized and coordinated effort.