Civil rights movement was very famous in 50s and 80s almost in all parts of the world. In most cases, it assumed the shape of civil demonstrations which mainly strived to achieve transition through peaceful methods. In numerous occasions, there would be armed resistance and civil wars. The movement took quite sometime in majority of the countries, although most movements failed to attain the set objectives. However, the sacrifice and efforts that the diverse movements portrayed helped to improve the rights of groups which were discriminated against. This article will present the literary work and work of music which came along with the civil rights movement. In addition, the article will cover major events and important historical figures from that same time. The analysis of the cultural aspects and humanitarian issues associated with this topic will also be covered in the discussion that will follow. Although the civil rights movement took place in 50s and 80s, there are many things that are associated with this period.
Civil rights movement would have carried the day without the different types of music such as gospel, blues and jazz music, but the role of musicians played a vital role. A musician by Pete Seeger composed a song that encouraged the perpetrators that they will surely overcome injustices. It was sung in every struggle that took place during that time. Jazz music has received praise due to its close contact with the civil rights movement. The music was not biased and it appreciated the abilities of both the blacks and the whites (Newman 134). The music was totally against racism. It was designed to go in line with civil rights movement. The musicians of this genre embraced the idea of using their music to preach equality regardless of the race and justice in social matters. The change in the society that was brought by music has remained in the minds of many since then. Some of the known musicians who composed songs in the 6os in favor of the civil rights movement include Bob Dylan, Alice Wine, and Charles Tindley. Wine will forever be remembered for her song ‘keep your eyes on the prize’. Their songs brought unity during and after the movement.
Civil rights movement could not have been complete without literature. The movement was meant to bring change. For this reason, anything that was in the offing was not left out, this is true of literature. The literature that was created during that time is very helpful today because it helps individuals who are living today to connect with the past. Some of the well known writers of literature during this period include Maya Angelou, John Edgar Weidman, and Toni Morrison among others (Dierenfield 167). In her work, Maya expresses the pain of being trapped in a world where one has no freedom to escape. Morrison published her first novel in 1970. She covers a story of a young girl whose life is ruined by racism. Wideman narrates his own personal encounter while he was a child. He explains how life was difficult as a black American in the university. Children during this period composed poems to express their experiences based on injustices meted on them during the civil rights movement.
Civil rights movement is remembered because of major events that took place during that time. However, while some of the events are worth remembering, some are equally painful. There was widespread violence and contempt that took place. People of all walks came together under their leaders to fight for rights they did not know of. Ordinary individuals volunteered their lives to see that the majority got their rights. For instance, in the United States, a number of major events took place. A church was bombed in Birmingham killing 4 girls who were of dark complexion. In 1964, a civil right act which disallows racialism was enacted. In the same year, blacks are given the right to vote. Three years down the line, marriage between people of diverse races is declared unconstitutional by the highest court in America.
Some of the well known historical figures of the time include Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy among others. Prior to winning elections to become the president of the United States, John F. Kennedy was sure of winning due to his widespread support on civil rights movement. However, most of his critics disagreed with him that he knew what civil rights movement meant (Davis 123). He was in the forefront to offer executive support to it in 1960s. Having learnt a lot about racism, he showed interest of becoming an attorney general. In 1962, he admitted that what worried him most was not crime but civil rights. The movement was very keen on fighting for free and fair elections, rights that govern housing and putting pressure on law courts to take action on racists. Before taking over presidency in 1968, Robert Kennedy had become completely obsessed with civil rights movement. Before his assassination, Kennedy had helped to initiate the civil right act. In 1966, he took many leaders by storm when he openly criticized apartheid regime in South Africa while on a trip there.
Civil rights movement came at time when humanitarian issues were common. The perpetrators were very specific that their civil as well as political rights were not being respected. The government and most private organizations did not observe the issues that mostly affected human beings. The civil rights that protected individuals from being discriminated against in terms of age, gender, and religion were sidelined. Human rights that allowed people to speak with freedom, express their thoughts, move and worship in freedom were a thing of the past during the civil rights movement. The political rights that govern fairness in court issues such as right to be fairly tried, right to appeal, right to take part in politics alongside freedom of associating were a thing of the past during the civil rights movement. Human rights were being abused regardless of whether they were in the universal declaration of human rights.
In conclusion, civil rights movement was very active in the 60s. The movement was formed to fight for the rights of those who were discriminated against such as the blacks. In order to achieve its objectives, the perpetrators used songs, literature and poems to express equality among races and to preach peace. The movement helped in educating people their rights and from then onwards, the struggle did not cease. Historical figures such as Robert Kennedy stopped at nothing to see equality for all. It was a period in history that will forever be remembered (Carawan & Bond 56).
Carawan, C., Bond, J. Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its
Songs. New York: NewSouth Books, 2008, 34-89
Davis, J. The civil rights movement Volume 3 of Blackwell readers in American social and
cultural history. Chicago: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, 90-134
Dierenfield, B. The civil rights movement. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008, 1-179
Newman, M. The civil rights movement. New York: Edinburgh University Press, 2004, 67-193