The American civil movement was a movement that was mainly felt between the year 1955 and the year 1968 with many African-Americans coming to the front line to fight for equal rights to their white colleagues and treatment as equal beings. However, this movement had started way back in the 19th century (1850s) when the Americans started abolishing slave trade. However, their effort was mainly felt in the quoted period in history when they acquired equal treatment to their white counterparts. This led to equal treatment and application of bill of rights to all Americans regardless of their skin color or origin. In most cases, this movement is usually regarded as the movement to end racial discrimination in America (James, 902).
Among the Americans, there was a belief that their rights are what their constitution provided without any regard to skin color of native origin. With this in mind, the black Americans had a reason to fight for their constitutional rights of freedom to expression, freedom to speech, freedom of religion, freedom to due process by the law and the freedom to equal protection under the law. This is what was contained in the American constitution though only the whites enjoyed the full privilege of the law.
The main factors that facilitated this movement can be traced back to the 19th century when the blacks were sold to America as slaves. This dehumanized them and made them feel less human while making the whites feel more of humans than the blacks. As a result, racial hatred and discrimination grew between the two classes of Americans to a point that the constitution allowed some of the discrimination. However, President Lincoln started the campaign by freeing all slaves even in states with rebellion. Later on, the American constitution was amended to eliminate racial discrimination for the Africans-Americans. Several African leaders facilitated this movement even before 1955 and their efforts can be said to have formed the foundation for the black Americans to fight for their equal treatment as the whites. The most significant of all was Malcolm X. (James, 904)
This was a black minister who fought tirelessly for the equal treatment of non-whites as the whites were treated. Having been born by non-whites and brought up in an environment that truly exhibited hostility to non-whites in America, Malcolm was very much focused in ensuring that the Africans were treated equally as the whites.
Looking at the story of this character, Malcolm was born of a Swedish mother and a black father. His father was campaigning for equal treatment of non-whites and whites. Since he was very influential, the whites issued two threats and later murdered him ruthlessly. His insurance compensation schemes were also sabotaged and only one out of the two policies matured. The children including Malcolm were left without a provider and later their house was taken on grounds of being located on a ground meant only for the whites. This made Malcolm pursue studies and fight his way up the ladder to a senior position where he even challenged several leaders and courts for issuing oppressive or race based sentences to offenders. It is believed that Malcolm was murdered due to his efforts in fighting for equal rights of African-Americans.
When the movement gained recognition in 1955, several leaders came up to oppose the discrimination that occurred in application of the law. The most remembered leader who was also highly influential was Martin Luther King junior. This man had the highest influence in which he led campaign that challenged the false promises and empty clauses in the constitution that were acting just s a hoax to the black people in America while they were being oppressed. The most common slogans that were used indicated that the blacks were fed up with legal segregation which existed in American in spite of the equal rights by the constitution. In 1963, a march against these atrocities committed to the blacks was led by martin Luther king junior where he made his famous and most remembered speech of I have a dream. In this speech, he was quoted to say ‘ I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal’ these nonviolent demonstrations became the largest in the whole movement that shook the stand of the whites who were reluctant to allow equal treatment of all people regardless of their color. (Johnson, 256)
Some of the main reasons that can be claimed to have led to this movement included:
Segregation of children in schools
This was evident in all schools in America. There were schools for black children which were often poorly equipped and few compared to the population they were expected to serve. This resulted in many black children either having to travel very long distances to access schools or go without education. The most evident case was a girl named Linda Brown who was forced to travel many miles to get to school whereas there was a whites school in the neighborhood. Very few colleges were set for the black learners. This made many of them lack higher level education all because of their skin color (Johnson, 266).
Discrimination in jobs
This was another reason that made the blacks in America to complain. In most cases, a black would not be employed at a better position compared to a messenger or post master or just a cleaner. Better jobs like office work were only reserved for the whites.
Unequal treatment by law
In case an African was found to have committed any crime, the sentence issued by the judges was very severe even for the slightest crime. This made the Africans feel dehumanized and hated by their white counterparts. This can also be taken to be due to lack of black judges or magistrates who sat on eh bench to evaluate the case and issue a fair sentence (Johnson, 267).
Having looked at the movement and some of the factors that led to the movement, let us now assess its success in achieving the set goals. To begin with, the movement came to an end after the whites removed all forms of legal segregation. This led to children being allowed to attend schools close to them regardless of whether they were initially set for the white or black. This led to equal treatment of children and same standard of education to all learners. The other factor that evidenced that the movement was a success was the appointment of black people to offices which were formerly reserved for the whites. This led to incorporation of blacks even in government leadership posts which made the blacks even more politically powerful. However, this did not create the anticipated balance since leadership positions in any sector had white majority. This resulted in racial discrimination in the work place though in a much disguised manner. On the point of equal treatment by law and protection, the law was streamlined to allow for equal treatment regardless of the color of a person. Therefore, it would be sound to claim that Martin Luther King junior truly died for a dream that was achieved though after his assassination.
Critically looking into the movement and how it progressed to achieve its goals, it is prudent to claim that it was a success. This is mainly because the main aim of streamlining the law to ensure equal treatment by the law was achieved though at a cost. The main strength of the movement can be claimed to be rooted in the constitution. After the 1865 and 1868 amendments to the constitution, the blacks were given equal constitutional rights as the whites. However, in 1896, the Supreme Court passed a ruling that allowed segregation thus the constitutional rights were preserved yet the blacks were legally segregated from the whites. This part led to the uprising of the blacks so as to have equal rights enabling them to vote without any taxation or work in any office without any racial discrimination. The success of this movement can be traced to its theme and organization. The banners used clearly stated what the people wanted the government. The other reason is presence of strong and influential black American leaders. These people pushed hard for the equal rights of the Africans in America and since they were influential, the government was able to pay attention to their requests. However there appears to be weakness in the movement as well. The number of learned blacks was less compared to the whites thus even if any appointments were to be made according to qualifications, whites were more than the blacks. This would result in a black minority in the work place. Concluding on the critic, it is wise to claim that movement was more than 80% successful though it lost great leaders like Martin Luther King junior.
In conclusion, the civil movements can be claimed to have resulted in what black Americans are today in America. They are treated equally as their white colleagues and have equal rights in all aspects. If it was not for the movement, the blacks would still be facing legal segregation making them to be viewed as less human being. This movement can be said to be success though it led to assassinations of many of its prominent leaders. However, freedom and success always comes at a cost. If it was not for this movement, it appears Americans would still be legally segregated and this affects the social fabric negatively. Therefore, the movement can be claimed to have brought unity and cohesive coexistence in the diversity of the American population.
Johnson M. Reading the American Past: selected historical documents, volume II, Bedford/St. Martin's, 5th edition, 2012 print
James R. The American Promise: A history of the United States, volume II, Bedford/St. Martin's, 5th edition, 2012 print