After watching this video, think about the following:
How does this video make you feel?
What stands out most to you?
Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution ended slavery and extended the rights and protected the citizenship of blacks, these changes did little to change the attitudes and behaviors of white Americans, especially those living in the South. From the 1930s through the early 1960s, where black people could go and what they could do was severely limited by segregation - a series of laws and customs that kept blacks and whites apart in many ways. Segregation meant different things in different places. In the South, blacks and whites often lived near one another. In the North, blacks and whites lived in completely separate neighborhoods. Southern communities and states passed segregation laws that allowed for discrimination in schooling, housing, and career opportunities. Segregation was enforced by creating separate facilities for blacks and whites. The worst sections of public facilities and accommodations were for “Coloreds Only.” Whatever the specific laws were, white people were treated better than black people. In order to just live, it seemed that black people were expected to just learn to make the best of situations that were meant to hurt and insult them.
Beginning in the 1950s a number of organizations began to crop up that strove to put an end to segregation and discrimination. Some of these were the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Individuals such as Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Abernathy, and Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., along with many others worked along side these organizations to change the laws through nonviolent resistance. They adopted many of the nonviolent teachings and techniques that Mohandas K. Gandhi used to free the Indian people from the rule of the British.
Separate but equal?
In 1954 the first real step toward ending segregation in America happened in the form of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the famous case called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In this ruling segregation in the public school system was deemed unconstitutional. Brown signaled to many people a hope that segregation might end soon. Southern lawmakers, who were all white because of Jim Crow laws that limited the number of black people eligible to vote, resisted desegregation. Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation in all areas of public life. Blacks and whites had separate schools, trains, movie theaters, hotels, restaurants,
parks, restrooms, and even water fountains. Public facilities for black people were often inferior and not as well maintained as those for white people.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to follow
an Alabama law that required black passengers on city buses to give up their seats for white passengers. After she was arrested, Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to organize a boycott of city buses until they treated black and white passengers the same.
The sit-ins and boycotts that followed applied economic pressure where change was most needed. Freedom Riders - black and white took bus trips throughout the South to test federal laws that banned segregation. Black students enrolled in segregated schools. Protest marches and demonstrations continued to make headlines. Civil rights workers carried out programs for voter education and registrations. The goal to create tension and provoke confrontations peacefully in order to force the federal government to step in and enforce the laws was beginning to work. Inspired by these successes as well as others, more and more people believed the time was near when black Americans would be granted the civil rights they deserved as citizens of the United States, the rights other
Americans took for granted. Even people who didn’t agree
had begun to pay attention to the growing numbers of those
who were willing to protest against segregation.
Unfortunately, the goal of nonviolence was not always met.
Gunshots, fires, and bombings often answered the trials and tribulations of the movement. These attacks were not only directed against the brave people who so heroically fought to achieve change. Despite the danger, the civil rights movement grew stronger, gaining support all over the country. On May 2, 1963, almost a thousand children joined what some called the Children’s Crusade, a march from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church into the center of Birmingham. The entire city was shocked, even the police, who were too surprised to do anything. Inspired by the success of the demonstration, the marchers returned the next day, but this time the police were ready for them. They came with their dogs, and the fire department came with their hoses. As the rest of the country turned on their televisions that night, they watched the police
and their dogs abusing the blacks, they watched the dogs bite and chase the children. They watched as the water knocked down men, women, and children.
Million Man March
Many people who had never thought about civil rights before began to think about them. On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people from all over the country marched on Washington, D.C. to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill - to demand equal rights for black Americans. It was there, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. However, the hatred and the evil continued. A few weeks later a black church in Birmingham was bombed and four little girls, ages
eleven and fourteen, were killed. Then, finally, a little less than a year later, on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill.
What does it mean to be courageous?
Think about this:
How did African Americans show courage during the Civil Rights movement?
All civil rights historical context information taken from:
Selman, R.L., and Elizabeth, T. An Educator's Resource Guide for The Watson's Go to Birmingham--1963. Zaner-Bloser, Inc. pp. 13-15.
Retrieved from http://www.walden.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/The-Watsons-go-to-Birmingham-Educational-Resource.pdf, September 22, 2016.
Book cover photo:
Retrieved from http://titlepeek.fsc.follett.com/tp/query? action=3&subnumber=2003238&isbn=0385321759&appid=4, September 22, 2016.
All civil rights photos:
Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/event/American-civil-rights-movement/images-videos, September 22, 2016.
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Public - 9/24/16, 1:15 AM