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How The Montgomery Bus Boycott Impacted The Civil Rights of The African-american

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To a large extent, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1966-1956 can be considered the most important turning point for the development of African-American civil rights in the period 1865 to 1992. In order to regard a period as a turning point, it must be established whether it brought about social, political and economic change. The Montgomery Bus Boycott promised greater equality for African-Americans through the desegregation of buses and the widespread change it provided. It is useful to contrast the Montgomery Bus Boycott with other possible turning points in order to judge its overall significance. The Reconstruction Era could also be considered a turning point because African-Americans gained more freedom and better opportunities. Also the Brown vs, Board case could be considered as a turning point as it created an important legal precedent. However, both of these periods failed to bring about all three kinds of change. Therefore, it will be seen that, to a large extent, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was the most important turning point in the development of African-American civil rights from 1865 to 1992.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was not the first example of direct action protest but it was the first to be really effective in the aspects of social, political and economic change and the success allowed to gain momentum and continue winning in the 60s. The Montgomery Bus Boycott gained the near unanimous support of ordinary black men and women giving them a chance to participate in an activity that involved effort but avoided danger hence making the event widespread. Furthermore, it can be argued that the Montgomery Bus Boycott was long-lasting as it lasted just over a year (1st December 1966 – 20th December 1956) and it was highly leading in desegregation. African Americans at this point showed they could organise a protest, and co-operate with each other with minimal white participation, while nonetheless, affecting white Americans. The boycott put financial pressure on the authorities who initially unwisely refused the slightest concessions. Moreover in November 1956 after an initiative by the NAACP, the Supreme Court in Brower V. Gayle gave another favourable verdict due to this event. It ruled segregation on buses to be unconstitutional with similar reasoning to the Linda Brown case. A ripping hole da been made in the vast tent of Segregation. Furthermore, the Montgomery Bus Boycott brought to light one of the key black activists; Martin Luther King making it a politically active and important rally, highlighting just how leading the change was. It made be argued that to some extent, social change was minimal in the Montgomery Bus Boycott as the attitudes of white Americans towards African Americans did not change however, it could be seen that they were more aware of the unity of the Black Americans. Moreover, Although this event certainly changed the attitudes of the Federal Government as it demonstrated the power of a united black community and it gave the civil rights movement the success and awareness it needed, it could be argued that this was not necessarily a turning point but instead just a manifestation of the build-up in tension as a result of other turning points.

The Reconstruction Era can be shown to have brought about considerable, long-lasting change through key pieces of legislation and constitutional amendments. The Emancipation Proclamation secured the freedom of all African-Americans, and slavery was permanently abolished. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments achieved further political rights for African-Americans, and provided lasting change. However, the improvements to the social and economic status of blacks were not long-lasting because of sharecropping and the end of Reconstruction. Overall, the period 1865 to 1877 brought about some lasting change, but only in the context of political rights. World War Two, in contrast, achieved greater social and economic change, but these changes were not as long-lasting. The greater opportunities afforded to African-Americans, particularly in the north, by the wartime economy helped to improve socio-economic status. However, the return of white soldiers at the end of the war, who found that their jobs had been occupied by black workers, led to renewed racial hostility, and ultimately negated any positive change achieved. Compared to both earlier periods, Johnson’s presidency secured long-lasting, permanent change that improved African-Americans status in society and access to political rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped to end de jure segregation in the United States for good, and the Voting Rights Act of the following year finally secured African-Americans’ access to the right to vote, 100 years on from the end of slavery. Although this event was an immense turning point, the change created by this was not a continued change as after the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1877 any rights African Americans were given were reversed. Black codes were put in place, segregation was made legal in the South and white supremacists groups continued to discriminate with the emergency of such groups as the KKK. Ultimately the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a much more successful turning point as it created leading change and a legal precedent to end the segregation which started with the Reconstruction Era, nonetheless, it may be argued that if it wasn’t for the amendments and their lack of implementation then perhaps the quest for civil rights would have come at a much later time.

The Linda Brown supreme court case of 1954 was also a landmark turning point; especially legally and politically. The decision created an important legal precedent and was expected to produce major change. It did so in a number of places outside the Deep South where segregation had still prevailed up to this point however the progress was not quick as by 1957 less than 12 per cent of the school districts in the south had been integrated. There was resistance in the south to the whole principle of integration using the states’ rights argument. The federal government was seen as acting dictatorially in seeking to impose its values and opinions on those of different stats. Though the Brown decision had limited immediate impact, it was a turning point. Of all the federal institutions, the independent judiciary showed they no longer had political difficulties concerning positive action over civil rights that were still present in Congress and the Presidency. With this decision the Warren Court ended the vice-like grip of the Plessy V. Ferguson precedent which had dominated the relations between blacks and whites ever since. By going further than merely attacking inequalities, and insisting on the psychological need for integration of the block minority more liberal verdicts were to follow hence making this a leading change Moreover the verdict gave many southern black people a belief in the American political social system and Constitution that Marking Luther King and other leaders were later able to exploit effectively It was also a vindication of the legal strategy of the NAACP. Nonetheless, although this change could be argued to have changed some mind-sets and attitudes, it was hard to implement and the idea that “you can change laws but you can’t change hearts and minds” rang true, similarly as the Reconstruction era and the Montgomery Bus Boycott proves. To this case there was huge white resistance and furthermore it was unclear on when desegregation should take place, other than with “all deliberate speed”. Furthermore it was been criticised that the Court could have followed up its original verdict with a more vigorous attempt at enforcement, hence speeding up the process of Civil Rights considerably. Conclusively it can be seen that the Montgomery Bus Boycott was of a much larger importance as a turning point as it changed the attitudes of white Americans to a higher extent than the Brown Case by emphasising the unity and power of the Black Americans.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1966-1956 brought about the most significant examples of widespread and leading change, and also enacted some revolutionary change through the creation of political, social and economic change. It can therefore be regarded as the most important turning point in the development of African-American civil rights from 1865 to 1992. Although the Reconstruction Era also brought about leading and revolutionary change, in the form of federal actions and constitutional amendments, some groups in African-American society did not reap the benefits, and it cannot be regarded as providing clear widespread change. It was, however, more significant than the Brown vs. Board case, which, although optimistic about improving the social and economic lot of African-Americans, can be considered to slow of a change to actually have been effective in itself. Hence the Montgomery Bus Boycott was the most important turning point in civil rights for African Americans 1865-1992 through the demonstration of the immense power of the African Americans.

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