Essay about Civil Rights Movement

The success achieved following the years of the Second World War only determined the Civil Rights activists to continue their fight for equal treatment. The important Supreme Court ruling of Brown v The Board of Education outlawed the segregated state sponsored school system, which had promoted legal segregation of elementary schools. However there was much need for a proper implementation of this decision and for further legal action. The murder of Emmet Till and the subsequent acquittal of his white killers represented a lost opportunity for the justice system to lay its impartial role.

From there on, the goals, the leaders and the tactics of the Civil Rights movement changed from legal to direct actions. This evolution was partly due to the fact that there were continuous attempts to interfere with legal actions that the NAACP was undergoing in achieving equality for the Black community. Thus the main goal became now the determined fight against segregation with clear targets such as desegregation of Albany or Birmingham. (Jenkins 1997). The means however, although they was less legal action involved, remained non-violent, and often took the form of boycotts, freedom rides.

One such example was the Montgomery Bus Boycott against the segregated transportation system in Alabama, which resulted in the end in a Supreme Court ruling against the State of Alabama. The tactics involved activities at the local level, which were now conducted by Church members, thus the community became much more implicated. Among these, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who would later become one of the leading figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Also, sit-ins were organized by students in order to encourage the desegregation in schools. The efforts culminated with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
(African American Odyssey 2002). However, slowly, the cooperation between the black civil rights militants and the whites became an obstacle for those who believed in more radical moves. Thus leaders such as Stokely Carmichael began advocating a new concept, that of “black power” which demanded freedom from white authority both economically and political. Its means of representation sought more an improvement of the black communities rather than their integration in the white reality. Thus, it encouraged self consciousness and self reliance, along with the creation of a strong cultural conscience.
The role of the black women is rather important as they too strived for recognition of their rights. However, the emancipation movement that had galvanized the black community was doubled by the feminist movement which in its turn demanded for equal rights for men and women. (Williams n. d. ). Nonetheless, from a wider perspective, black women represented an indispensable element for the complete emancipation of the black community in offering both practical and moral support.
One such personality was Gospel Singer Mahalia Jackson who had joined the Civil Rights Movement at the request of Dr. King and who represented an important figure for the black cultural emerging identity. (African American Odyssey 2002). Bibliography African American Odyssey. (2002). Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and Demonstrations. Retrieved 9 May 2006 from Library of Congress Web site: http://memory. loc. gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart9b. html Jenkins, P. (1997). A history of the United States. New York: Palgrave. Williams, M. (n. d). Black Women and the Struggle for Liberation. [Electronic version]. Third World Women’s Alliance. Black Women’s Manifesto. NY: Third World Women’s Alliance.

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New York University
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