Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s


The American Civil Rights Movement submits the reorganization activities in the U.S designed on closing down the cultural inequity counter to African Americans and bring back privileges in the Southern Territories. Many of those who were most active in the Civil Rights Movement prefer the term Southern Freedom Movement since the resist was regarding much extra than merely communal privileges beneath rule; it was also about fundamental issues of freedom, respect, and dignity, economic and social equality. Throughout this phase had quite a few crucial actions which developed the channel for contemporary communal privileges for African American.

Throughout the history of African American people struggle for freedom, the struggle took many forms of riots, rebels by leaders who differed in methods but had the same aims. The nonviolent form took the struggle into a new era of struggle techniques. The nonviolent approach which shaped the struggle in 1950’s and 1960’s led the blacks to get their civil rights. The approach was orchestrated by Martin Luther King Jr., mostly in Alabama and Georgia.  Emperor’s diplomatic creed was the way out for the darks’ craving pro liberty, on the contrary was conflicted to further privileged’ principle of cruel and revolutionary deeds.

Major struggles of civil rights took this form which resulted in a victory. Alternatively, aggressive behaviors and street rebellions may possibly simply put them in a dangerous condition with additional revulsion to them and to their cause. This non-violent movement compared to violent one could make the government accept the idea of almost a peaceful movement than a violent and militant one.

And the peaceful effort was encouraged in advance although never been in use sincerely. Booker T. Washington appreciated so as to darks must rise in learning and commence their monetary power as a substitute of activist trial which got encouraged at same period. Monetary energy and learning might influence the extended effort pro independence which the equipped effort might merely bring about poorer.  As it was pretty specified by him as he said “cast down your bucket where you are” (Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, 2008, 45)

Casting down the bucket used to maintain stability and planting the roots which make them stronger in facing white supremacy. His article The Awakening of the Negro shows his experience in Hampton when he had the opportunity to education, and the shift from a coal mine boy into a student who want to understand the dignity of labor which made him realize that he is a man instead of a property. The black had turned out to be self-awakened; this might take place in the course of enlightening the Negro nation. His attitudes were described as not militant, and he was portrayed as advocator for American government policy.

On the other hand, Garvey did not have the same opinion to the Washington strategy and termed it as disloyalty to the black nation because it would not facilitate them or be of any assistance to their cause. He believed that armed struggle would make whites submit to their demands. Motives of the NAACP (Charles A. Wills and David Halberstam, 2005, 6) Exposed was portrayed by Garvey in paper, (1923) his personal understanding of the aims of the NAACP and how that method is a simple disguise to disgrace the dark people, initiating by implementing discrimination amid darks by isolating them to factions disagree in amount of darkness.

He explained that this was Du Bois’ way of encouraging the advancement of Negroes by becoming whiter. Du Bios established the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This is the major and matured communal privilege association in America.

He founded it on the base that nonviolent protests and legal actions were the best way to ensure equality for everyone. For instance, the NAACP won the ordinance case in Louisville, Kentucky, that obligated blacks to live in a certain places, because it violates the fourteenth Amendment of United States constitution.

Civil Rights Revolution:

The growing militancy among the masses of black Americans in the 1930’s and 1940’s-punctuated by major ghetto riots by blacks in Harlem and Detroit-stimulated leaders of traditional civil rights organizations to rethink their own strategies and tactics. The ordinary cautious, pro-business, National Urban League became an advocate of unions and interventionist government social policies.

The NAACP, committed since its founding to court suits against Jim Crow and polite lobbying in the Congress and the White House, redirected its legal campaign. In 1934, Charles Houston, the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, agreed to lead a systematic attack on segregated education in the South. Houston was the first black lawyer to head the association’s legal program.

Houston, with the assistance of William Hastie, later the first black federal judge, and Thurgood Marshall, later the first black Supreme Court justice, brought a renewed sense of mission to the attack on segregation. Breaking with previous policy, these lawyers actively sought out litigants and carefully nurtured the suits. Convincing black parents to challenge the southern “way of life” often involved these lawyers in mass meetings and community organizing and exposed them to white retaliation. Their strategy was first to challenge segregated graduate education where the fiction of separate but equal was most blatant.

Between 1938 and 1950, they won a series of suits that forced the Supreme Court to recognize that equality entailed more than physical structures and expenditures but involved intangible factors as well. Segregation was, as Homer Plessey had contended more than half a century earlier, “a badge of slavery” that stifled the human spirit.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregation was “inherently” unequal. This conclusion emanated from diverse legal, political, and intellectual sources, but essentially the justices, like John Marshall Harlan in 1896, could not blink the palpable injustice of requiring eight year old Linda Brown to walk past the white school three blocks from her home in order to attend a black school a mile away. No verbal ingenuity could any longer disguise this “badge of slavery”.

A strategy of social change that relied exclusively on traditional legal and political processes lost its appeal under the circumstances. Consequently, the decade after Brown witnessed a shift toward more confrontational tactics designed to shake the system rather than work through it. Beginning in December 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., where blacks boycotted the city bus system to protest its degrading treatment and job discrimination, and subsiding after the Selma to Montgomery, march in 1965, in which blacks and whites from across the nation converged to demand the restoration of black voting rights, the civil rights movement thoroughly transformed American race relations and created a legacy of black pride and militancy.

The Montgomery motor vehicle rejection was instigated subsequent to Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, was under arrest for declining to resign from her seat to a white American man on the municipality’s isolated bus. Blacks organized effective substitute transportation and pressed their case until in December 1956, the Supreme Court declared Montgomery’s segregation ordinance unlawful. From the boycott emerged a new leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who went on to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (Charles A. Wills and David Halberstam, 2005, 16) and to become a symbol of the movement’s commitment to militant, nonviolent, direct action against segregation.

In February 1960, college apprentices in Greensboro, organized sit-ins to protest separated lunch counters. Their example soon inspired imitators throughout the South and sympathy demonstrations in the North. Later that year Ella Baker, an SCLC worker, helped students organize the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) (Charles A. Wills and David Halberstam, 2005, 10).

The nonviolent movement for civil rights started with major effects when two black lawyers initiated the desegregation of schools. Both Houston and Marshal new the value of education and how it will help blacks’ endeavor to get their rights.

The education of black people was promoted before by Du Bois and Washington. The two lawyers knew that legalizing the struggle was better than rioting in front of the court and this would reflect a good image about black as educated people and nonviolent opposed to their stereotyped image as violent. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark in the passive journey, on May 17, 1954; the US Supreme Court declared school segregation illegal.

This triumph was out of unity and determination of the African American people to gain their rights in a civilized way that portrayed their adoption of the nonviolent theory. Decisions of Supreme Court could only mean the success of nonviolent method in winning over the government which had no chance but to abide to law.

One figure who used and applied the nonviolent struggle that made a difference in the African American struggle for freedom and civil rights, was Martin Luther king. A Baptist minister and civil rights leader born in Atlanta, Georgia with his family long history in the Baptist church, he grew up on Christianity creed which later played a great role in establishing the SCLC to coordinate civil rights.

He saw Christianity as potential force for the advancement of blacks. His doctrine of nonviolent struggle was the outcome of his family deep roots in the African American Baptist church, and his study of liberal theology of Christianity where he shaped his personality and beliefs. He believed that everyone is entitled to the basic human rights given to him by God and Law.

King’s election as the spokesperson of Montgomery Improvement Association was out of his ability to preach to the mass and affect them by his biblical theologies and philosophic texts which he gained from his religious background and academic training, in addition to his experience with his father. Montgomery became his first station to his nonviolent believes when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the bus for a white person. This event was his first practical place to promote his doctrine. The boycott was a nonviolent form to resist whites’ prejudice actions towards black people.

King’s movement promoted blacks’ rights that the white people refused to acknowledge and fought to prohibit, but the form in which this struggle took made the government show a little cooperation with it. The government had a lot of meetings with leaders and activists such as Martin Luther King meeting with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957.  Another example was when king marched along with his fellow blacks and white sympathizers in a civil rights rally to segregated cities facing violent counterattacks by whites. This could only mean the determination black people to get their freedom will pay off and finally will “Let the freedom Ring”. A year Later President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill in 1964.

King’s non-violent method was a result of his study and his belief in the Christian doctrine and the faith in the determination of the African Americans to obtain their freedom. His inspiration could also be maintained and enhanced by Gandhi’s methodology. King Visited India to study Mohandas Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, which characterized the civil rights movement in bus boycotts. Gandhi’s fought the British with his nonviolent policy that united all Indians in a common cause.

He tolerated the violence and vicious actions towards his people in order to get their freedom. His famous attitude was not to evoke the British troops even when he was jailed. King in his speech I have a Dream at the Lincoln memorial (Washington D.C) in the year 1963 stated,” In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”  (Taylor Branch, 1989, 75). The dream of the African American is to be equal with others and to have what whites have. This dream can only be accomplished by the peaceful march into the hearts and the minds of the white people.

Emperor’s influence the resist and containing trust in God in satisfying the vision. He promoted African American to not to turn into pessimistic in efforts and also not to move reverse to the practice of aggression to attain independence. His thoughts were similar to Cabral’s thoughts about communal opposition which result in reaction of community anti by share out their customs. Cabral also positive the public to obtain a peaceful tactic in the quest of independence. Which tactic via in cooperation of Cabral and King were conflicted by lots of protesters in the voyage of releasing the Negroes’ crippled independence and privileges. By Malcolm X claimed that aggression was desired pro a “real revolution”.

Malcolm disproved King’s argue of a Black rebellion by claiming to a rebellion needs violence and conflict in favor of the rights of ground. Similar to Douglass, Nat Turner and Malcolm pretended the effort of calm rebellion and assembled darks to practice strength to acquire their privileges. The administration observed the consequence of leaders as Malcolm on community which troupes accepted as the Dark Panthers. This troop appeared as soon as the murder of Malcolm X in February 1965, and welcome the motto that is “by any means necessary.”

The administration had to encourage the passive progress by caution to stay in power particularly subsequent to the mutiny in Watts’s part in Los Angeles ghettos. The actual control of the darks terror. The aggressive exercise outcome terror which might supplied to the accomplishment of the conflicting exercise.

Major demonstrations were the product of king’s nonviolent movement which filled the journey of the civil rights with examples and marked its importance.  The march in Selma, Ala to the state capital in Montgomery was one of the series of the nonviolent demonstrations by black that opposed the violent attitude of others which gave it a national wide support of both white and black all over the country and resulted in the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

The expansion of king’s dogma to other cities like Atlanta in Georgia launched the first massive campaign blacks’ freedom. Many groups were formed such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) (Taylor Branch, 1989, 45) which was one of the associations that expanded from Montgomery. The SNCC increased the activists among students who could be a strong group if controlled, but this was difficult as the students grew more militant which could jeopardize the whole struggle. Activist of the SNCC wanted more militant action which opposed to king’s dogma. He came out of Atlanta without achieving anything.

The nonviolent mode of the civil rights movement had made all the difference in shaping the mold of their freedom. The southern peaceful cause was a success in the journey of the blacks’ struggle. Leaders could disagree with methods used but they sure would agree on one aim; which is the freedom of the African American people. King’s achievements led to his winning the Noble Peace Prize in December 1963 for his efforts of nonviolent and peaceful struggle which was not for him as a person but as leader of great people who this prize was the result of their efforts. The diplomatic approaches proved its efficiency refute others who think only of the armed and violent struggle as the way to accomplish aims.

Everyone was functioning headed for the similar aim; independence to African community everywhere on earth. Certain favor Malcolm and Turner claimed that rebellion and strength was essential to acquire independence though King and Cabral both assembled for peaceful way to get independence and sameness, since which is the merely method to achieve the help and understanding of together the administration and the individuals.

Understanding which might compel the administration terror separation in the state and fright of awful promotion as a main independent state. Latterly the process demonstrated to come off was the peaceful which outcome in the achievement of the major communal privileges progress in the past of American African nation.

As years past the struggle continued with several more events taking place in different parts of the nation. One particular event which is considered to be the turning point of the Freedom Movement took place in Washington during the Kennedy administration. The March on Washington of 1963 was a two-way attempt of all of the most important civil rights associations, the further progressive division of the manual labor association, and additional open-minded association.

The demonstration had six administrator goals: “significant communal rights laws, an enormous central works agenda, complete and reasonable service, well-mannered accommodation, the accurate right to cast your vote, and sufficient incorporated instructions” (Charles A. Wills and David Halberstam, 2005, 94). Of these, the march’s genuine focal point was on the passageway of the social rights law the Kennedy Administration had projected after the turmoil in Birmingham. The march on Washington was a true success, although not without controversy. A predictable 200,000 to 300,000 supporters got together in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King conveyed his well-known I have a Dream Speech”

(Charles A. Wills and David Halberstam, 2005, 94). The nationwide media covered each and every moment of the occasion, giving the March countrywide publicity, carrying the organizers’ vocalizations and contribution their own observations. After the march, King and other universal human rights leaders met with President Kennedy and his employees at the white House. At the same time as the Kennedy Administration emerged to be genuinely dedicated to passing the statement, it was not obvious that it had the choice to do it.

During the course of history the civil rights movement was the talk in everyone’s conversation. They asked themselves, why me? Why can’t I be treated equally? And many other questions. I believe the reason for the unfair treatment of African Americans came about from the hesitation of change. American’s highly dislike drastic changes in their lives, which is the reason why it took so long for the African American community to be noticed. But once noticed African Americans became recognized for their struggles and accomplishments during the Freedom Movement. Dr. King went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, others where giving a unique position in History such as Rosa Parks who we know as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movements.

America has come a long way with this issue, from not allowing them to vote to know serving in office. Even to the election of the first African American President. As the world changes we move now to new and unique situations. The civil rights movement seemed like forever ago but a new group of minorities are being targeted now for their own rights. Yes a modern day movement for those of the LGBT society. American’s brace your selves for the modern civil rights movement (Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, 2008, 20).


It was clear that the civil rights movement had worked a fundamental change in the consciousness of young Americans, white as well as black. The century-old social order that had crumbled in the 1960’s now seemed incomprehensible to young black Americans. A black student in Selma made this observation about her parents’ world: “Try as you can, you can’t believe that white people once treated black people that way. It seems like something that happened long, long ago.” Though one might wish for better historical imagination, perhaps incredulity is not an unreasonable response to the first three centuries of the black presence in America.

Despite the many troubling problems that remained, there was in the middle 1980’s no reason to fear that blacks would pull back from their centuries-old struggle for equality and justice. The pace and extent of progress would surely depend on broader changes yet to come in the national economy and in the political will and racial attitudes of white Americans. But the civil rights movement had established that blacks, themselves could be instrumental in changing these for the better.


Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth. 2008. Defying Dixie: the radical roots of civil rights, 1919-1950. Published by W.W. Norton & Co.

Branch, Taylor. 1989. Parting the waters: America in the King years, 1954-63. Published by Simon and Schuster

Wills, Charles A. and David Halberstam. 2005. America in the 1950s. Published by Facts on File