The Civil Rights Movement

Subject: History
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The Civil Rights Movement was the battle for social justice that happened between the 1950s and the 1960s for Black Americans to gain equal rights under the United States law. While the Civil War was instrumental in officially abolishing slavery, it did not stop the discrimination against Black people who continued enduring the adverse effects of racism and segregation, particularly in the South. Therefore, by the middle of the twentieth century, Black Americans had experienced more than enough violence and prejudice against them. They, supported by many white Americans in the role of allies, mobilized and initiated an unprecedented movement toward equality.

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Through a non-violent protest, the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s was detrimental for breaking the pattern of public facilities that were segregated by race, especially in the South. Moreover, it achieved a breakthrough in the equal-rights legislation for the African American population. While the change to the nation was not instant, the push toward the acceptance of equality of rights of American citizens regardless of their race or ethnicity. One of such pushes was the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law, the very first significant civil rights legislation established since Reconstruction (History.com Editors, 2022).

It facilitated the federal prosecution of anyone who tried preventing a person of color from voting. Regardless of this, Black citizens continued experiencing blatant prejudice in their everyday lives, as evidenced by the events of February 1, 1960, when four college students stood up against segregation in Greensboro, where they were refused to be served at Woolworth’s lunch counter. As a result, hundreds of citizens joined the cause, with more and more people adding to the movement. Thus, the primary way in which the Civil Rights Movement changed the nation is that it mobilized people to express their opinions and push for a common cause.

The provisions of the Civil Rights Acts protected against discrimination based on race and sex in hiring, promoting, and firing. The Act also forbade discrimination in public accommodations and federally-funded programs. Besides, it strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of educational facilities. The significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson and initiated by President John F. Kennedy, lies in guaranteeing equal employment for all, the limited use of literacy tests for voters, and ensuring the integration of public facilities.

The most popular strategies that the participants of the Civil Rights Movement carried out in the 1950s and the first half of the 1960s relied on the idea of non-violent civil disobedience. It included such methods as boycotts and protests, freedom rides, voter registration drives, sit-ins, as well as marches (“The emergence of the Civil Rights Movement,” n.d.). Non-violent direct action was instrumental in challenging segregation in public accommodations. It was aimed at challenging the status quo and making it difficult for those in power to ignore segregation as an issue. The most prominent examples included sit-ins and freedom rides.

In some instances, sit-ins led to rapid changes in public policy, while widespread protests of direct action consequently led to the passing of the 1964 Act (Hanks, Solomon, & Weller, 2018). With the help of freedom rides, the Kennedy administration and the FCC were encouraged to enforce two decisions in the Supreme Court regarding interstate travel. However, direct action was not as effective for addressing the denial of voting rights. To address this, the members of the movement implemented canvassing, which entailed going door-to-door and talking to people. Such a strategy allowed to build stronger relationships, giving people an opportunity to practice their voting applications, providing transportation and support for those ready. In today’s climate, peaceful protests have transformed, with the same strategies applied in the 1950s and 60s not quite giving the same effects. In the era of social media, the key is to build relationships remotely and organize the movement in various ways. However, it is easier to organize as many people as possible and facilitate the exchange of information, as well as identify leaders who will be at the center of the movement.

The ideas of the Civil Rights Movement of 1960 remain relevant today. Representatives of minorities, especially African Americans, continue experiencing educational disparities today because of the gaps in opportunities (Hanks et al., 2018). The unequal treatment of students leads to the youth pushing themselves into criminal acts. Diversity remains a concern today because communities are highly segregated, with the government having to implement strategies for the purpose of promoting socio-economic and racial diversity and community integration. The Civil Rights Movement remains relevant to this day because society has to have effective methods of opposing injustice and inequality. Besides, the leadership of prominent social justice players such as Esmeralda Simmons, James Rucker, Melanie Campbell, Lateefah Simon, Erika Andiola, and many others is highly relevant (Byrnes & Hattington, 2020). People like this are essential for leading the movement and speaking loudly about key concerns.

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One of the most significant achievements of the Civil Rights Movement was reaching greater social and economic mobility for African Americans throughout the nation, banning racial discrimination, offering greater access to resources for women, religious minorities, African Americans, and other marginalized groups. In today’s world, the movement can have a positive impact, as the Black Lives Matter movement shows. It is notable that educational inequality still exists for African American students, with Black K-12 students being 3.8 times more likely to get one and more suspensions as opposed to their white counterparts (Jones-Castro & Johns, 2016). Furthermore, disparities in course availability and the enrollment of students lead to further challenges in career readiness, entrance, and success.

The Civil Rights Movement is also relevant today because of the lack of community-building resources. With the ruling by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. the University of Texas, upholding affirmative action, educational institutions must reconsider and improve admission policies and practices for supporting racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity and integration (Jones-Castro & Johns, 2016). The message of the movement, in this case, entails ensuring diversity among teachers and students, challenging economic resegregation in schools and universities. The limitations that students have in their early and later education translate into future challenges and barriers, such as financial and social challenges. Opportunity gaps cause achievement gaps, and the primary strategy in closing such gaps is to show systematic support of the oppressed and marginalized communities to ensure that they have access to high-quality education and support systems. Equal opportunity is expected to have equal recognition to maintain a commitment to civil rights to meet the unique needs of younger generations so they can thrive socially, academically, and emotionally.

References

Byrnes, H., & Harrington, J. (2020). From Esmeralda Simmons to Laverne Cox, here are 19 of the most influential civil rights leaders of today. USA Today. Web.

Hanks, A., Solomon, D., & Weller, C. E. (2018). How America’s structural racism helped create the Black-white wealth gap. Web.

History.com Editors. (2022). Civil Rights Movement. Web.

Jones-Castro, A., & Johns, D. J. (2016). 5 reasons the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is just as relevant today. Web.

The emergence of the Civil Rights Movement. (n.d.). Web.

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