Aspects of the Civil Rights Movement

Subject: History
Pages: 5
Words: 1419
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Bachelor

Introduction

The concept of human rights and freedoms came to America with the revolutionary movements of the mid-nineteenth century. In 1865, the American Civil War ended with the victory of the Northern states, which advocated the abolition of slavery throughout the United States. Consequently, in December 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, providing for the abolition of slavery throughout the United States and its controlled jurisdictions. The civil rights movement refers to a series of political groups and activities that advocated the equality of citizens before the law. Such movements peaked in the 1960s in various countries around the world. In many cases, they used non-violent acts of civil disobedience to fight. Nevertheless, in some cases, such actions accompanied or resulted in mass riots and armed insurrections. Today’s America needs the ideas of the civil rights movement because systemic racism and oppression of minorities have not yet been eradicated.

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The Transformation of the Nation

Mahatma Gandhi drew attention to racial injustice, but in 1935 he was not allowed to meet the movement’s leaders. He remarked that he thought the idea of nonviolence would spread further around the world, probably because of the efforts of American blacks. As early as 1951, his comrade-in-arms, Rammanohar Lohia, visited America and urged activists to apply his teacher’s tactics and strategy to mass direct action.

At the time, such action was seen as almost impossible: the forces of the disparate groups of black activists and the organized racist white majority were too unequal. Amidst the obstruction among segregationists and the indifference of most white citizens, federal civil rights laws and regulations in the South, the citadel of American racism, were not enforced (Dochartaigh, 2017). The status of a discriminated and disenfranchised racial minority was a daily reality for generations of blacks. Hatred of racial inequality gradually penetrated the South, eventually taking over America.

The civil rights movement was the natural result of years of stifling the potential of the black population. Rosa Parks was the catalyst that pushed out accumulated fatigue and anger in a population long constrained by anti-human laws. The struggle against black segregation has become a powerful narrative in America, with many protests, including bus strikes, changing the anti-democratic order of society. Martin Luther King was the leader in changing consciousness and reshaping people’s ideas of national dignity (McKinney, 2019). His inspiring speeches changed people’s prejudices, he was able to carry his message proudly, and he helped people with words. His figure became the key to success in other struggles. It led to the abolition of segregation and then to the elimination of legislation restricting the free movement of black people.

The movement was dangerous and confronted protesters with pressure from employers: layoffs, suppressions, fines, and even the use of violence. Despite all the violence against them, people did not stop believing in their cause and confidently continued moving forward. First, it was protested in schools, then in cafes and stores, freedom rides in 1961 were dangerous, and repeatedly violence was used against the black population. None of this stopped but only fueled the freedom riders as demonstrations led by Luther King spread from Birmingham to Washington (McKinney, 2019). He gave his keynote speech, “I Have a Dream,” which became a national sign for America (Luther King, 1963). Under this slogan, the civil rights movement began to fight even harder until President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Nationwide Influence

The civil rights movement led to significant changes in the legal foundations of America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed ideas about voting rights, public accommodations and facilities, and educational institutions (Schmidt, 2020). Title VI and VII prohibited discrimination in federal assistance programs and regulated equal employment opportunities (The White House, 1964). The changes listed above affected black people; they were a breath of fresh air for other minorities. Black riots prompted the authorities to continue reform policies, including the introduction of preferential or “compensatory” programs for racial and ethnic minorities (Dochartaigh, 2017). The law prohibited discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. It can unanimously be called the movement’s outstanding achievement.

Although significant revolutionary events took place in America, the desire for equal rights flared up in Americans. Latinos and Native Americans began to organize rallies that decisively advanced their interests. The Voting Rights Act of 1975 made it possible to add languages to the ballot and comply with election accessibility rules. Significantly, the civil rights movement impacted women’s aspirations and rights: the National Organization for Women (NOW) held employment and decent pay campaigns. The Supreme Court banned criteria that discriminated against women (The White House, 1964). Under pressure from NOW, many programs changed their attitude to equality in schools and universities and began actively sponsoring women’s organizations.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also influenced associations to prevent the stigmatization of Americans with disabilities. Although its provisions were not used until 1990, they became an important document that put pressure on modern U.S. law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a way to combat discriminatory legislation and increase opportunities for people with disabilities to learn, work, and receive health care. Despite this wide gap between the ADA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the latter document has not lost its relevance: especially in political and economic struggles.

The Relevance of the Civil Rights Movement Today

In U.S. history, interracial and interethnic issues are of particular importance. Significant, fast-growing African Americans, Latinos, Indians, Chinese, and others coexist in the melting pot country. The American nation is the only one in the world formed based on mass immigration, rightly referred to as a nation of immigrants. Segregation and discrimination against African Americans are prohibited by American laws today. The African-American problem played a major role in this, which put pressure on the power structures of the United States and forced them to make important decisions in the field of interracial relations (Clayton, 2018). The African American problem was formed based on the contradictory situation in integrating African Americans into the general “melting pot” of the United States, which was expressed in the clash of opposing positions regarding the rights and freedoms of African Americans.

Today, the African American problem is still relevant in all its social and political manifestations. In Mississippi, for example, ratification of the 1865 Amendment did not occur until 2013. Only from that point on can the legal solution to the problem of slavery in the United States be considered final since it has become illegal and unconstitutional. Nevertheless, systemic racism and other discrimination based on race, nation, or gender continue to be part of American culture (Jeffries, 2019). There is no systemic struggle, despite many associations and support centers. No matter how strong the legislation is, the U.S. population chooses discrimination over social dialogue and equalization.

America’s Multiculturalism

Perhaps today’s civil rights movement would be an effective way to achieve equality among different nations and cultures. The cultural heritage of other races and nationalities is practically unprotected, so the strategies of the 1960s would be helpful in today’s cultural diversity. Although various researchers, news critics, and journalists believe that a violent path would not have yielded the right results, in some cases, it is necessary. Although differences in the mores of America’s peoples (e.g., Hispanics and Native Americans) would have allowed for different struggles, cohesion would have brought much more significant results.

The ethnic and racial conflicts of contemporary America need to rethink their strategy of struggle because a common systematic approach still does not exist. Even though people are united by common trouble, new ways of dealing with white supremacy are needed (Jeffries, 2019). It is safe to say that multiculturalism would have spread everywhere through the tactics used in the 1960s. In addition, the black cultural experience would inspire national minorities to take decisive action.

Conclusion

In summary, the civil rights movement in the ’60s was a fierce struggle for freedom and equality. Black people became the primary opponents of an established layer of society that discriminated against minorities. Thanks to movement leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., there was a nation’s transformation and a redefinition of social philosophy. The movement has also served as a model for action for other minorities: Latinos, women, and Americans with disabilities. Today, the strategies and tactics of the 60s movement remain relevant in contemporary America because new ways of combating discrimination are needed. The lack of full government support perpetuates white privilege and delays U.S. multiculturalism.

References

Clayton, D. M. (2018). Black lives matter and the civil rights movement: A comparative analysis of two social movements in the United States. Journal of Black Studies, 49(5), 448–480. Web.

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Dochartaigh, N. Ó. (2017). What did the civil rights movement want? Changing goals and underlying continuities in the transition from protest to Violence. In L. Bosi & G. De Fazio (Eds.), The troubles in Northern Ireland and theories of social movements (pp. 33–52). Amsterdam University Press. Web.

Jeffries, H. K. (2019). Freedom rights: Reconsidering the movement’s goals and objectives. In H. K. Jeffries (Ed.), Understanding and teaching the civil rights movement (pp. 73–82). University of Wisconsin Press. Web.

Luther King, Jr. M. (1963). I have a dream. American rhetoric. Web.

McKinney, C. (2019). Complicating Martin Luther King Jr.: Teaching the life and legacy of the movement’s most iconic figure. In H. K. Jeffries (Ed.), Understanding and teaching the civil rights movement (pp. 113–130). University of Wisconsin Press. Web.

Schmidt, C. W. (2020). The fourteenth amendment and the transformation of civil rights. Journal of the Civil War Era, 10(1), 81–104.

The White House, Public Law 88-352. (1964). Web.