Civil rights in the 1960s Essay

This essay has a total of 1291 words and 6 pages.


civil rights in the 1960s




African Americans have been struggling for equality for many decades. It only seems that
during the 1960’s is when there were actual significant advances made. This was about the
same time that civil rights came into the political scene. Throughout the South, Blacks
were still in the majority, but had no political power what so ever. The Civil Rights
Movement gave African Americans a voice and a chance to make a difference. The 1960’s
helped open up hope and expectations for Black Americans.

One of the most prominent men of his time, Martin Luther King Jr. was known as “A national
hero and a civil rights figure of growing importance” (Discovering 1). “Martin Luther
King Jr. aroused whites and blacks to protest racial discrimination, poverty and war”
(Compton’s 244). On August 28, 1963 King made one of his most influential speeches ever
at the March on Washington. His “I have a dream” speech had a major impact on all of
America. His speech urged people to be judged by their character and not by the color of
their skin (Civil Rights 148). King was a man who didn’t believe in violence. The way he
got his point across was not through violence, but through peaceful protest just as Gandhi
had done. Martin Luther organized sit-ins, marches and boycotts. This was otherwise
known as civil disobedience. King believed that it was now time to end segregation and
discrimination in the South and throughout the entire country (Civil Rights 84). King
helped bring together many blacks that were looking for peaceful solutions to racial
oppression in the United States. King became the youngest man ever to win the Nobel peace
prize in 1964. Another young man who fought for civil rights was Malcolm X. Otherwise
known as X, he was the opposite of King. Instead of peaceful protest, he chose to meet
violence with violence. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to fight racism with love and
Malcolm X wanted blacks to fight back when they were attacked. “He was one of the most
fiery and controversial blacks of the twentieth century” (Discovering 1). “Malcolm X, was
regarded as personifying black nationalism” (Civil 117). “Malcolm was known for his
incisive analysis on the problems of American democracy and the limitations of the
intergrationalist Civil Rights Movement” (Civil 116). He believed that black men must
reject Western society standards and develop their own society and ethical standards
(Colliers 143). He established the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He did this in
order to try to unify all the black organizations by fighting white racism (Colliers 143).
Malcolm wanted to inform blacks about the cultures that had been taken away from them and
the self-hatred the whites had inspired (Discovering 1). He wanted to point them to a
better way of life. “The black power movement to instill pride and a sense of self
reliance in the African American community” (Compton's 132).

Many organizations helped to throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these
organizations were lead by black activist seeking reform. One of the most successful
organizations is the NAACP. This stands for the National Association of Colored
Advancement. Roy Wilkins was the head of the NAACP during this time (Civil 909). The
NAACP purpose was to eliminate racial prejudice by removing racial discrimination in
housing, employment, voting, schools, the courts and business enterprises (Civil 983).
During the 1960’s the NAACP worked to mobilize the black community and get the United
States government to take federal action (Discovering). Another important organization is
the SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Martin Luther King Jr. was the
president of the organization. This organization took direct action against segregation
at the voting booths and schools (Discovering 1). They also stood behind many of the
other organizations fighting for the same cause. On April 2, 1963 the SCLC chose
Birmingham as a city for one of their segregation protests (Discovering 2). The widely
publicized peaceful protest that turned into a site of horror helped create support for
African Americans among northerners (Discovering). After the forming of the SCLC there
was a formation of another organization named SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee. This consisted of mostly students at black colleges and universities. One of
the actions taken by the SNCC was on July 27, 1967 where they set out to protest in
opposition to the Ku Klux Klan (Civil 148). These students also risked many of their
lives at voting registrations drives in the South (Civil 91). A group named the CORE,
Congress of Racial Equality, was another prestigious organization. They were the head
leaders in what they call Freedom Rides. “The success the CORE did achieve can be
attributed to its early adoption of nonviolence as a strategy for achieving racial
equality and to the dedication of its supporters” (Civil 252). They could offer
instruction and guidance to the new black activists that were interested in the Civil
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