Think about the civil rights movement that took shape in the 1950s. Write a paper that explains how civil rights advocates successfully challenged and overthrew the system of segregation. The paper should discuss the factors that led to increased activism and solidarity at the grassroots level, as well as the role that elected officials within the federal government played in guaranteeing citizenship rights to all Americans.
Even though it had been almost a decade since the Emancipation Proclamation, in the South, blacks and whites were far from spate but equal. Through a system that had been in place by whites who still firmly believed that blacks should have no power or positions of authority, there were loopholes so that there was a system of legal rules and regulations in place that enabled whites to maintain power across the region. It took some powerful, courageous, and selfless black leaders to encourage and motivate their fellow African Americans that they had endured enough oppression in a land where they were supposed to be considered equals with the whites who oppressed them. In the 1950s, finally, there was enough support and motivation among these leaders to enable the binding ties of segregation to be unharnessed and the movement to end oppression to be set into action.
Some of the earlier movements to end racial segregation occurred shortly after World War II, when people in the United States equated the way whites treated blacks to the way Hitler had treated Jews. There were 11 states that passed laws about fair employment practices, which included equal rights for blacks to be employed if they were equally qualified, as well as equal access to accommodations that were available to the public between 1945 and 1951. In 1947, major league baseball, which was still segregated throughout the country, ended that stance when the Brooklyn Dodgers hired Jackie Robinson, an African American player (p 968).
President Truman was very much against racial discrimination. Because of his stance, the Democratic president won over many African Americans to the Democratic Party while he campaigned during 1948 through his actions in Congress. He requested that Congress create a federal civil rights commission that would remain permanent. Truman also called for laws to end the practice of lynching, as well as end the poll tax, which would be a boost to his campaign during election time. Although none of his proposals were approved by Congress, the black population was aware that the Democratic Party and their leader, the current president, were in support of many of their plights and their desire for segregation to end. Truman furthered his agenda through the issuing of an executive order to end segregation in the military (p 969). In an election with four major players, Democrat Truman, Republican Dewey, States’ Rights candidate Thurmond, and Progressive Wallace, it was the African American vote that swayed the decision and helped elect Truman to his second turn in office. There was power and consensus building among the African American people, and it was time for change (p 971).
One of the most notable changes was through the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1952). Justice Thurgood Marshall held the position that there was no such thing as “separate but equal” in the national school system. It was ruled that such policy violated the 14th Amendment and needed to end. The educational facilities for whites and blacks were definitely not equal (p 1021).
Rosa Parks was a seamstress who simply used the public bus transportation system to get and from her job as a seamstress. She was exhauseted after a long day of work. She did not feel as though she should have to give up her seat and stand just because of the color of her skin, and so she refused to do so. She never intended to be arested, used as an example, and begin a boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama transit syastem that would last for a year, crippling that industry in that city. It is such unified events such as this that help move the civil rights movement in that city and fueled interest throughout the region (p 1022).
Other inspirations that helped rally and unify blacks in the south were inspirational speakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Through his lessons and words of wisdom, people who had grown up dealing with oppression and accepting it as a way of life were finally convinced that change could occur and that they not only did deserve more, but they had the power to gain more if they worked together, with each other, and demand the necessary changes (p 1022). Even though the movement took nearly a century to get underway, once the swell began, it continued. Unfortunately, the fight still needs to be continued today as equality sfor all still has not been reached.