The Civil Rights Movement was a massive social movement in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s that sought equality for African Americans. This branch of American history encompasses many different events and movements, but it is most famous for Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech” at the 1963 March on Washington. The main goal of this movement was to end racism and segregation in America.
What was the impetus for the Civil Rights Movement?
The Civil Rights Movement was sparked by many things. The central catalyst was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This landmark legislation was needed because African Americans were still being denied basic human rights. After World War II, many African American veterans returned from the war to find that they were still treated as second-class citizens.
The main issues for African Americans were segregation, discrimination, and lynching. Segregation was the practice of separating African Americans from whites. Discrimination was the act of denying African Americans equal treatment. Lynching was a custom in the South where whites captured and sometimes killed African Americans who offended them.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited segregation and discrimination in education, employment, and public accommodations. It also created the Commission on Civil Rights to investigate civil rights violations. The act was a step in the right direction, but it fell short of what was needed. The Civil Rights Movement was created to push the legislation further.
The March on Washington
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Over 250,000 people were in attendance, and King’s speech was broadcasted to an audience of millions.
The march was King’s way of presenting a vision for America that was inclusive and accepting of all people. During this speech, King called for an end to poverty, unemployment, and racial segregation. He also called for an end to violence, discrimination, and hate.
He argued that America was not the place that it was supposed to be. He said that there was still discrimination and segregation and that America was not a place where people should be judged by the color of their skin.
The Freedom Rides
The Freedom Rides were a series of bus trips that challenged the law of racial segregation in the south. This was done by whites who would ride the segregated buses with blacks who were not allowed to sit in the same seats and use the same restrooms.
The Freedom Rides took place from 1961 to 1964. The Freedom Riders were challenging a law that said that it was illegal for blacks and whites to sit next to each other in restaurants and on buses.
The Freedom Rides were so named because the riders were “free” to sit next to whomever they wanted instead of being forced to sit at the back of the bus. The goal of the Freedom Rides was to get people to think about the segregation that was happening in America.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act
When Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he said, “Today we are Americans. Not Negroes, not whites, but Americans.” This was the first major civil rights legislation, and it was very important in helping to gain equality for African Americans.
The legislation banned discrimination in employment, education, and public accommodations. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate discrimination claims.
The law was a huge step in the right direction to eliminate segregation and discrimination against African Americans. It was a major step forward, but it was not enough. It needed to be expanded upon.
Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1968 Omnibus Civil Rights Bill
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This legislation was much more expansive than the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in American history.
Title I of the 1968 bill made it a federal crime to “interfere with adversely affect the enjoyment of” civil rights. This law was an important part of the movement to eliminate hate and discrimination. By banning “interference” with civil rights, the government was banning attempts to discriminate against African Americans.
The 1968 Civil Rights Act also banned discrimination in interstate travel. The law also expanded the list of people protected under the law to include Native Americans and veterans.
The Movement in Chicago and Northern Cities
The Civil Rights Movement saw many protests in the North. In Chicago, there was the Black Power Movement. This movement was led by young African Americans angry with the Jim Crow laws that were on the books in Chicago. The Black Power movement was a reaction to the racism that they were facing every day.
They felt that they were losing their power and that they were not being treated equally in society. Many of the leaders of this movement were later involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. The Civil Rights Movement was also seen in the city of Seattle. In this area, there were Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides.
The Sit-Ins were led by African Americans who were demanding that their local businesses serve them. The Sit-Ins involved African Americans sitting at lunch counters, restaurants, and other public places like hotels and parks. This was a peaceful protest against segregation.