Black Rights The quest for equality by black Americans played a central role in the struggle for civil rights in the postwar era. Stemming from an effort dating back to the Civil War and Reconstruction, the black movement had gained more momentum by the mid-twentieth century. African Americans continued to press forward for more equality through peaceful demonstrations and protests. But change came slowly indeed. Rigid segregation of public accommodations remained the ruled in the South, despite a victory in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955.
School integration occurred after the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954, but not without struggles. In the North, urban ghettos grew, as the growth of blacks grew. Crowded public housing, poor schools, and limited economic opportunities fostered serious discontent. In the North and South alike, consciousness of the need to combat racial discrimination grew.
Support bubbled up from different social groups. Young people in particular, most of them students, enlisted in the effort to change restricted patterns deeply rooted in American life. In 1962, the civil rights movement accelerated. James Meredith, a black air force veteran and student at Jackson State College, applied to the all-white University of Mississippi and rejected on racial grounds. Suing to gain admission, he carried his case to the Supreme Court, where Justice Hugo Black affirmed his claim.
But then Governor Ross Barnett, and adamant racist, announced that Meredith would not be admitted, whatever the Court decision, and on one occasion personally blocked the way. A major riot followed; tear gas covered the University grounds; and by the riots end, two men lay dead and hundreds hurt. An even more violent confrontation began in April 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, where local black leaders encouraged Martin Luther King,Jr., to launch another attack on the southern segregation. Forty percent black, the city was rigidly segregated along racial and class lines. We believed that while a campaign in Birmingham would surly be the toughest fight of our civil rights careers, King later explained, it could, if successful, break the back of segregation all over the nation.
Though the demonstrations were nonviolent, the responses were not. City officials declared that protest marches violated city regulations against parading without a license, and, over a five-week period, they arrested 2,200 blacks, some of them schoolchildren. Police Commissioner Eugene Bull Connor used high-pressure fire hoses, electric cattle prods, and trained police dogs to force the protesters back. As the media recorded events, Americans watching television and reading newspapers were horrifies. The images of violence in Birmingham created much sympathy for black Americans civil rights struggle.
In August of 1963, civil rights protesters arranged massive march on Washington D.C. to lobby for the end of segregation. The hih point of this day was the address by Martin Luther King, Jr. King was long interested in Ghandis theroy of nonviolent protest. At this march on Washington, he proclaimed his faith in the decency of his fellow citizens and in their ability to extend promises of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to every American citizen.
I have a dream, King declared, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:We hold these trues to be self -evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. King ended his famous speech by quoting from an old hymn:Free at last!Free at last!Thank God almighty, we are free at last! Despite the many advances by the black civil rights leaders, racisl tensions still are apparent in todays society. Martin Luther King was shot and assasinated for his civil rights work. All he wanted was for blacks and whites to be equal.
The seperation gap has become less wide though. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed and it outlawed racial discrimination in all public accommodations, and in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed. This Act allowed federal examiners to register black voters where necessary. There is still a long way to go in the fight against discrimination, but we are moving closer and closer each day. Sociology.