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The Political Debates of the 60‘s

Integration vs. Segregation

Term Paper 2004 20 Pages

American Studies - Culture and Applied Geography

Excerpt

Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. The time before the Civil Rights Act of 1964
2.1 Events before the new legislation
2.2 Groups and organizations fighting for freedom
2.3 Social conditions and demands of the African-American population

3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
3.1 What is the act about?

4. The time after the Civil Rights Act of 1964
4.1 Timeline of the most important events
4.2. Consequences
4.2.1. Malcolm X , Black Muslims and the Organization of African-American Unity
4.2.2. The Black Panther Party and The Black Power Movement

5. The End of the Civil Rights Movement

6. Works Cited

1. Introduction

The following paper deals with the integration and segregation of African-Americans in the 1960s in the USA. It shall familiarize the reader with the events that happened before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the act itself and the public reactions to it. In addition, it gives an overview of the most significant demands of the African-Americans before the act of 1964, its implement and its consequences for the Civil Rights Movement. But what is a civil right?

“A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, assembly, the right to vote, freedom from involuntary servitude, and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Statutes have been enacted to prevent discrimination based on a persons race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin and in some instances sexual preference.“[1]

2. The time before the Civil Rights Act of 1964

2.1. Events before the new legislation

Although many African-Americans had fought in World War II, they were treated as second class citizens after their return to the USA[3]. A new struggle for equality began. In 1945, 1947 and 1949, laws were passed to guarantee their voting rights; the military forces and employment under government contract were desegregated and made it possible to participate in some activities on an equal basis with whites. In 1954, the Supreme Court decided in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka[4] that the concept "separate but equal"[5] was unconstitutional. But some white southerners refused to obey, the president refused to enforce it and people continued to attend segregated schools. The Montgomery bus boycott was just a small victory for the African-Americans in 1955. It was decided that bus seating would be based on a first-come-first-serve basis[6]. Although Congress considered a civil rights bill each year from 1945 until 1957, every measure failed to pass into law. It was not until 1957 that the first civil rights act of this century became law. It was introduced by Eisenhower in 1956 and passed by Congress one year later[7]. A Civil Rights Commission was created, as well as new laws concerning the voting rights. Another law that was signed in 1960 dealt with some of the deficiencies of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 concerning the voting rights[8]. It also extended the life of the Civil Rights Commission. Unfortunately, the new act remained a theory rather than a principle in practice[9]. In many states progress came slowly. The African-American population remained frustrated because of the racism they encountered daily. The majority of the schools, for example, were still segregated and the living conditions had not changed significantly. Sit-ins, such as those in Greensboro, freedom rides and non-violent protests, which started in the early 1960s as a peaceful cry for equality, nearly always met with violence. In January 1961, two African-American students enrolled at the University of Georgia as the first African-American students there. A turning point took place in American history in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States of America. After the Eisenhower era, the country was looking for a change. As a new voice for equality, John F. Kennedy damned segregation and supported integration. In October 1962, the University of Mississippi was asked to admit its first African-American student, James Meredith. Because of new revolts, Kennedy had to send soldiers to protect him. In 1963, a non-violent movement organized by King was crushed by the police with an overwhelming force. The whole world watched it on TV and was filled with revulsion. This movement led to the end of segregation at stores in Birmingham and to an upgrading of African-American workers. The same year, the March on Washington took place and the Supreme Court created laws against segregation and discrimination in public areas as another step forward. But although laws against segregation existed, segregation persisted in reality. The African-American population was reminded of the shame of segregation, not only in schools, restaurants, hotels, parks, churches and graveyards but also, cities were divided into urban ghettos. In response to the violent events between Whites and African-Americans, the government passed several new laws.[2]

2.2. Groups and organizations fighting for freedom

In the time before the new legislation of 1964, many groups and organizations were established in the search for developing new strategies to push forward for full equality. Although they had sometimes different methods of acting, they all had a common goal: to find “a means by which black people can empower themselves and break the grip of white domination around them“[10]. In the years after their foundations, they started to mobilize African-Americans as well as Whites[11] and managed to open the doors for racial equality[12]. Thousands of smaller organizations existed. Even churches, religious organizations and institutions began to integrate, such as the American Missionary Association[13], and began to have a strong influence on the movement.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)[14]

The CORE, founded in Chicago in 1942, began as a non-violent organization. African-Americans and Whites worked together[15]. During the civil rights movement, CORE gained national attention for Freedom Rides against segregation on interstate buses and trains, organized sit-ins to get attention from the population and registered African-Americans to vote. After 1966 and a wave of disillusionment, CORE became more violent. Whites became limited, for they fought for "Black Power"[16] and supported African-American institutions while white ones were avoided.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)[17]

The NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization. Founded in 1910 with white and African-American members, the group’s main goal was “full equality“[18]. Its mission was “to insure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority groups and citizens; to achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice; to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes; to seek to enact and enforce federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights; to inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination; to educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action in furtherance of these principles“[19]. It were the efforts of the NAACP that led to school desegregation[20] and to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. It also helped jailed protestors to become free. The motto was “Free by ‘63“[21]. Although this goal was not achieved in 1963, this organization was probably the most influential in the fight for racial equality.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)[22]

SCLC was established to combat racial segregation and discrimination through nonviolent protests. It was made up of a group of ministers[23] in 1957 with Martin Luther King as president[24]. The group’s base was the power and independence of African-American churches. It operated as an umbrella organization, coordinated the activities of local organizations and trained communities in Christian nonviolence. Together with other groups, it organized sit-ins, voter registrations, demonstrations, Freedom Rides and antipoverty programs. SCLC often laid the groundwork for the passage of new legislations. In the late 1960s, SCLC began to concentrate on economic inequality. The Poor People's Campaign was created to guarantee employment, income and housing for the African-American population. The death of King undermined the success of the campaign. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King III, it organizes nowadays campaigns against discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality[25].

Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)[26]

This organization, commonly pronounced "snick," was formed by non-violent college students[27] in 1960 in order to help coordinate the student sit-ins in the South. It often cooperated with CORE for the Freedom Rides during the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1961 and helped with the registration of voters as well. As long as King led it, the organization was peaceful, but when Stokely Carmichael took the lead, the group became more militant and radical and searched the direct armed confrontation with the police. Its principle became “Black Power“ as well. In 1967, Hubert “Rap” Brown was elected the new leader. His radicalism brought the organization under FBI surveillance. The group began to dissolve and disappeared in 1970.

[...]


[1] “Civil Rights: An Overview“, Legal Information Institute, 25 June 2004

<http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/civil_rights.html>.

[2] cf. Horst Ihde, Von der Plantage zum schwarzen Ghetto. (Leipzig: Urania-Verlag, 1975) 161; “Major Features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964“, Congress Link. The Dirksen Congressional Center, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://www.congresslink.org/print_basics_histmats_civilrights64text.htm#social>; “Timeline of Selected Events of the Civil Rights Movement.” Greensboro News & Record Online.1998. 25 June 2004 <http://www.greensboro.com/sitins/timeline.htm>; “Timeline of the Greensboro Sit-Ins. Overview of Selected Events of the Civil Rights Movement.” Greensboro News & Record Online. 2003. 25 June 2004 <http://www.greensboro.com/sitins/timeline-state.htm>.

[3] cf. “The Civil Rights Movement“, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Classroom/9912/civilrights.html>.

[4] cf. Kristy McGinnis, “History of African-American voting rights - part II“, Suite 101, 8 Nov. 1998, 25 June 2004 <http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/constitutional_issues/12366>.

[5] In the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896, a case dealing with public transportation, the Supreme Court declared that racial was legal as long as the facilities for each race were equal. This led to many laws that permitted racial segregation in many aspects of society (cf. “Southern Christian Leadership Conference“, African-American History, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://afroamhistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stanford.edu%2Fgroup%2FKing%2Fabout_king%2Fencyclopedia%2Fenc_SCLC.htm>).

[6] cf. “Unit Ten: 1960-1990. Civil Rights to 1965“, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://www.course-notes.org/unitnotes/unit10.htm>.

[7] cf. “Southern Christian Leadership Conference.“

[8] cf. “Glossary”, Congress Link. The Dirksen Congressional Center, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://www.congresslink.org/print_teaching_glossary.htm#sepequal>.

[9] cf. “Glossary”

[10] “The Civil Rights Movement“

[11] cf. Immanuel Geiss, Die Afro-Amerikaner. (Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1969) 83.

[12] cf. “The Civil Rights Movement“

[13] cf. John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom. A History of Negro Americans. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 4th1974) 466.

[14] cf. “Unit Ten: 1960-1990. Civil Rights to 1965“

[15] cf. Geiss 82.

[16] cf. Chapter 4.2.2

[17] cf. “NAACP Mission Statement: Our Mission“, NAACP. 2004. 15 Aug. 2004

<http://www.naacp.org/past_future/mission.shtml>; “Our Past & Your Future“. NAACP. 2001. 15 Aug. 2004 <http://www.naacp.org/past_future/index.html>.

[18] Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom 463.

[19] “NAACP Mission Statement: Our Mission“

[20] cf. Claude M. Lightfoot, Der Kampf für die Befreiung der Afroamerikaner. (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Marxistische Blätter GmbH, 1973)12.

[21] Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom 481.

[22] cf. “Southern Christian Leadership Conference“

[23] cf. Geiss 84.

[24] cf. Geiss 83.

[25] cf. “Southern Christian Leadership Conference“

[26] cf. Jessica McElrath, “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)“, African-American History, 15 Aug. 2004 <http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/sncc/a/sncc.htm>.

[27] cf. Geiss 84.

Details

Pages
20
Year
2004
ISBN (eBook)
9783638407601
ISBN (Book)
9783638802239
File size
547 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v42818
Institution / College
University of Regensburg – Amerikanistik
Grade
1,0
Tags
Political Debates

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Title: The Political Debates of the 60‘s