The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was one of the most significant American events in the 1950s and 1960s. It was driven by the need for freedom and equality by African-Americans and other people of color (Janken, 2020). The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr. became one of the most defining moments of the movement. This paper describes the effects of the Civil Rights Movement, its ideas, and its impact on diversity in America today.

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic speech in 1963 at the Lincoln memorial park. That was 100 years after the abolishment of slavery. However, African American people believed that they were not yet free (Stanford University, 2020). African Americans still faced segregation and discrimination in schools, workplaces, federally assisted programs, and public places (Gazzar, 2014). The Civil Rights Movement took place during America’s Second Reconstruction when civil rights advocates pushed for reforms to ensure desegregation (History, Art, and Archives, 2020). The movement was accompanied by progressive actions by federal courts, presidents, and Congress. As a result, the nation began to correct civil and human rights violations that had lasted for decades (History, Art, and Archives, 2020).

The Civil Rights Movement resulted in reforms that prohibited racial discrimination and segregation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that abolished primary forms of racial discrimination and promoted equality among the American people (Gazzar, 2014). It banned segregation and discrimination based on religion, gender, race, and national origin. That encouraged integration in schools, the military, and the federal workforce (Janken, 2020). It also changed the job market in that employers would no longer ask blacks not to apply for work positions, and workers of different racial backgrounds could interact freely. It also made it possible to hold interracial gatherings in many states and black children to school with white children (Gazzar, 2014). However, the Act did not fulfill all the goals of the movement. For that reason, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, whose aim was to ensure African-American’s access to the ballot without harassment (Library of Congress, 2020). Its purpose was to compliment the Civil Rights Act that banned the application of unequal requirements for voter registration.

In 1896, the Supreme Court allowed the separation of people of different races as long as the separate facilities were equal (PBS, 2007). The segregation was intended for African Americans living in the South. However, they were not the only people affected by discrimination and segregation. Racial prejudice also affected Filipinos, Jewish Americans, Chinese Americans, and Latinos, among others. The Civil Rights Movement encouraged other groups like the Native Americans and Puerto Ricans to apply similar tactics to fight for their liberation and equality (Gaston, 2015). The movement provided a model for other groups to use to fight for their rights. Until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, persons from minority groups were segregated in public facilities, schools, offices, and places of public accommodation. The Act prohibited such discrimination due to color, national origin, religion, or race (FindLaw, 2017). That means that the Civil Rights Act protects all minority groups and not African Americans alone. Congress has continued to enhance civil rights statutes that prohibit discrimination due to gender, disability, and age. For example, the 1990’s Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits disability discrimination by public entities (Chow, 2013).

The civil rights movement was planned and organized by both leaders and the local people in multiple southern towns. It involved forming non-violent groups like the Citizens’ Coordinating Committee for Civil Liberties (4CL) and the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP). There were also radical groups like the Black Panthers (Else, 2017). The groups used different tactics for a common goal; to fight for equality for black people and other minority groups.  The people’s civil disobedience pushed governments to fulfill their promises for equity. These led to temporary and permanent wins that encouraged more African Americans to get involved in the protests (Deziree, Jontayvia, & Jennifer, 2010). The Black Panthers aimed at equality in education, fair housing, and increased job opportunities for minorities. Their goals were similar to those of other activists at the time. However, they also pushed for armed self-defense (Deziree, Jontayvia, & Jennifer, 2010). The 4CL focused on fair housing. Their tactics involved numerous marches and sit-ins. They encouraged African-Americans who were dissatisfied with NAACPs tactics to join (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 1999).

The social protests had one clear goal; to fight for equality. However, the groups used different strategies to arrive at a common goal. The lack of unity may have slowed down their progress because violence diverted people’s attention to the resulting damage (Else, 2017). Therefore, the success of the Civil rights movement was mainly due to non-violent tactics. However, violence was necessary as the protesters sometimes needed to protect their lives and property from racist violence (Austin, 2002). Some of the tactics can be applied to solve today’s radical and ethnic conflicts. These include peaceful protests and boycotts. There is extensive media coverage in today’s world and the people’s judgment depends on what they see on different social media platforms. Violence would cause distractions and divert the media’s attention (Else, 2017). The use of peaceful tactics to solve today’s conflicts would result in massive support and enhance success.

There has been tremendous progress in the United States since the Civil Rights Act of 1963. However, the country is still far from achieving the goals of the civil rights movement (Harvin, 2020). Although there is little formal segregation, there is still a lot of discrimination in the US. For that reason, there is a modern civil rights movement that aims at addressing the significant, though less visible, inequalities in today’s society (Jenkins, 2006). Oskin (2013) points out seven reasons why the ideas of the 1960s still have relevance today. These include higher poverty rates for African Americans, high unemployment rates, segregation in schools, health disparities among whites and African Americans, higher numbers of black people in American prisons, and racial tension between white and black people. Discrimination and inequality still exist in the schools, the judicial system, and other aspects of African Americans’ lives (Oskin, 2013). Therefore, there is a need for a modern civil rights movement to push for the much-desired equality in the American Society.

A Civil Rights Movement in America would mainly push for economic equality. That means that activists would encourage policies that would ensure equal economic opportunities for people of all races (Weber and Sultana, 2013). That would affect four significant areas: housing, higher education, K-12 schooling, and the work place. It would lead to a fair Housing Act for everyone and favorable policies to ensure that low-income students access high-quality education. It would also have a program to ensure that economically disadvantaged students have access to higher education and prohibit discrimination against workers (Kahlenberg, 2020). With that, people of color would live, school, and work with white people. That would reduce the need for race-specific neighborhoods as everyone would live together in peace, depending on their socio-economic status (Weber and Sultana, 2013).

References

Austin, C. (2002). On Violence and Nonviolence: The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi | Mississippi History Now. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/62/the-civil-rights-movement-in-mississippi-on-violence-and-nonviolence

Chow, D. (2013). A Dream Deferred: America’s Changing View of Civil Rights. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/39292-america-civil-rights.html

Deziree, R., Jennifer, B., & Jontayvia, S. (2020). Civil Rights: Tactics and Strategy for Change. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://invisiblehistory.ops.org/StudentProjects/2011StudentProjects/CivilRightsTacticsandStrategyforChange/tabid/155/Default.aspx

Else, J. (2017). The Civil Rights Movement Had One Powerful Tool That We Don’t Have. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/the-civil-rights-movement-had-one-powerful-tool-that-we-dont-have/

FindLaw. (2017). Civil Rights: Law and History – FindLaw. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://civilrights.findlaw.com/civil-rights-overview/civil-rights-law-and-history.html

Gazzar, B. (2014). How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed America – Daily News. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.dailynews.com/2014/07/01/how-the-civil-rights-act-of-1964-changed-america/

Harvin, M. (2020). Racism, Civil Rights and the Struggle for Equality Still Issues in Higher Education Today | GoodCall.com. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.goodcall.com/news/racism-civil-rights-and-the-struggle-for-equality-still-issues-in-higher-education-today-04039/

History, Art, & Archives. (2020). The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945—1968 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Essays/Keeping-the-Faith/Civil-Rights-Movement/

Janken, K. (2020). The Civil Rights Movement: 1919-1960s, Freedom’s Story, TeacherServe®, National Humanities Center. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/freedom/1917beyond/essays/crm.htm

Jenkins, A. (2006). Civil Rights Today. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from http://www.versushistory.com/versus-history-blog/category/american-history

Kahlenberg, R. (2020). A New Era of Civil Rights. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://tcf.org/content/report/a-new-era-of-civil-rights/?agreed=1

Library of Congress. (2020). Immediate Impact of the Civil Rights Act – The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom | Exhibitions – Library of Congress. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/immediate-impact.html

Ober, L. (2013). How the Civil Rights Movement Shaped Us. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.american.edu/media/news/20120220_1963_civil_rights_movement.cfm

Oskin, B. (2013). 7 Reasons America Still Needs Civil Rights Movements. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/39300-why-america-needs-civil-rights.html

PBS. (2007). THE WAR . At Home . Civil Rights . Minorities | PBS. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_home_civil_rights_minorities.htm

Stanford University. (2020). “I Have a Dream,” Address Delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Retrieved 18 October 2020, from https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

Weber, J. and Sultana, S. (2013) The Civil Rights Movement and the National Park System. Tourism Geographies. Vol. 15 (3), pp. 444-469. doi: 10.1080/14616688.2012.675515.

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