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Civil rights are the basic rights that every citizen has under the laws of the government. The African American civil rights movement was an ongoing fight for racial equality, it took place in southern America. The civil rights movements were in 1950s-1960s, this all led to the Civil Rights act of 1964. There were many different events that took place in the civil rights period, these included The March on Washington, The Sit In Movement, The Black Power Movement, Freedom rides and Brown v Board of Education.
The march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held in Washington DC, August 28, 1963. 250,000 people were gathered to show support for civil rights leaders who were protesting against racial discrimination and to show support for the major civil rights legislation that was pending in Congress. The Washington on March was organised by seven civil rights movement activist , these included A. Philip Randolph, Whitney M. Young Jr., Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, Roy Wilkins and John Lewis. As seen in Source B, an exert of Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech which is one of the most famous performances at the event. The purpose of his speech was to expose the American Civil rights supporters to the injustice of racial inequality and to share his dream, the dream for all American’s to be equal. His speech brought much needed attention to the civil rights and his visions about his hopes for the future provoked emotions for the audience. His speech helped African Americans achieve their rights because the 250,000 people put pressure on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration to push for civil rights laws to pass through Congress. The civil rights laws that needed to be passed through congress were to end segregation in public places and to ban employment discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex or national origin.
The Sit in movement was an organised form of silent resistance that was against the segregation of public eating places. The intent of these sit in’s was to bring media attention to the sit ins so people all over America would join this movement. As seen in Source C, the two primary source photographs are of a protest and a sit in. In the first photo they are holding signs that are encouraging people not to buy or eat at Woolworths because they are segregated. At the bottom of these posters NAACP is written, this is the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. This was a civil rights organisation that was led by white and black activists. This group was helping African Americans to achieve their rights by organising these protests and sit ins. Daisy Bates who is far left in this photograph, was a civil rights activist who was president of the NAACP and played a crucial role in the fight against segregation. The actions of protests like the Woolworths boycott made an immediate and lasting impact, forcing Woolworths and other establishments to change their segregation policies. The second photograph was taken on February 1st, 1960 in Greensboro NC, four African American students sat down at a designated whites only counter in Woolworths and asked to be served. Despite all the threats when they were refused service, the students sat patiently and waited to be served. By the fourth day more than 300 students had participated in this sit in. Woolworths lost a reported $200,000 due to this boycott, and because of these losses all over the country on July 25, 1960 the Woolworths decided to desegregate the stores. This sit in action by David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, and Joseph McNeil sparked a wave of student sit-ins and protests across the south in a range of different restaurants. The law of segregating African Americans and white people in public eating places was diminished in the 1964 civil rights act, congress banned segregation in restaurants. These demonstrations all helped African Americans to achieve their rights and they inspired others to join in and fight for rights.
The event of the black power movement was a revolutionary movement that occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The advocates for black power believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency and social equality for all people of an African American descent. By mid 1960’s many advocates saw non-violent protests as an inefficient way to combat racism. People had become tired of the slow paced civil rights movement, black power became the new wave of black freedom struggle that included more violent protests. After the shooting of James Meredith in the March Against Fear, Stokely Carmichael (civil rights activist) declared “What we gonna start sayin’ now is ‘Black Power!’”. This was the first time that this had been used as a political slogan. As seen in source E, a secondary source written by David M. Kennedy, The American Pageant (2002). His article explores the events that followed the voting act in 1965, the Watts Rebellion is specifically mentioned in the article. The Watts Rebellion was a series of riots that broke out on August 11,1965, in the generally African-American neighbourhood in Watts, Los Angeles. The Watts rebellion was started because African-Americans in the community still felt that even though the laws had been passed they were still be treated unfairly. The Black power movement overall didn’t help African Americans to gain their because by this stage they already had voting rights and there was laws against segregation.
Freedom rides were bus journeys in 1961 through the south of America in which groups of African Americans and white civil rights activists would travel on to protest against segregated buses and bus terminals. Although there was federal law against banning segregation on interstate travel, in the southern states local rules still ordered segregation of races on buses. The African American freedom riders would sit in the designated whites only seats at the front of the bus and the whites would sit at the back in the designated African American seats. The purpose of Freedom rides was to pressurise local states into aligning with the federal law and desegregating buses in the south. During these freedom rides, the buses were firebombed and the tires were slashed, the people on the buses would be brutality attacked and beaten by white protesters. As seen in Source D, a witness recount from James Farmer an African American civil rights activist, gives an explanation behind the freedom rides in his perspective. His recount goes into detail about why and how he and other activists took part in these rides and what they wanted to achieve out of them. His story is one of the many that helped African Americans to gain their rights, after these freedom rides the Supreme court decided that local segregation laws were to be disregarded in 1965.
The Brown vs. Board of Education was a supreme court case that was filed by Oliver Brown in 1951, he filed this case against the Board of Education because his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary school. The case ruled that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. As seen in the Appendix? Source? The primary source photograph of The Little Rock Nine who were a group of African American students. They were enrolled in an all-white High School in little rock, Arkansas September,1957. They went to school was to test the Brown vs. Board of Education and to see if the ruling that the supreme court had made was in place. On September 4, 1957, the first day of school began Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to block the black student’s entry into the school. Later that month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal guards to escort the Little Rock Nine into the school. The Little Rock Nine’s actions helped African Americans to gain their rights because after the event Ernest Green, a member of the Little Rock Nine became the first African American to graduate. This inspired others to go to school and receive an education so that they could go on to work and earn a living which is a right that everyone deserves to have.
Most of the events of the civil rights movement helped African Americans to gain their rights. The right to sit anywhere, eat anywhere, go to school anywhere and stop segregation in public places, were the rights that each of the events were fighting for. The March on Washington helped for the segregation laws to be broken, The Sit in Movement played a major role in desegregating restaurants, The black Power Movement didn’t help African Americans to gain rights, if anything it made it worse, The Freedom Rides was successful in desegregating buses in the South and finally the Brown vs. Board of Education/ Little Rock Nine helped the African American’s to gain rights because every person should have the right to be educated.
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