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Civil Rights Movement Essay

Civil rights movement is a broad term to cover all activists meetings and strikes final aim for which was to ensure equality for African American people in United States. The peak of the movement took place at the mid 40-ies to late 60-ies of XX century. The outcome was the declaration of Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

Even though, formally slavery was outlawed since the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, however white people, especially in the South resisted this change. As a result of this resistance “separate, but equal” policy designed by Jim Craw was spread among Southern States. This policy declared that separate schools, public transportation and even zones of recreation should be created based on the race of citizens. This process is known in history as segregation. Of course, African Americans were unsatisfied with this situation. Additionally there were often cases of African American murders by supremacists. All of mentioned above were reasons for creation the biggest social movement of XX century – civil rights movement.

The first major victory of civil movement was a process Brown v Board of Education of Topeka. The plaintiff side argued the segregation policy in schooling based on the story of Linda Brown, who should go a great distance every day so she can visit school. In the same time another school for white children was just few blocks away from her home. They proved that Jim Crow`s Act interfere with Constitution of the United States that declares equality in access to education between all races.

Another eye-catching event was Montgomery bus boycott that continued for over a year. At that time, the sitting places were divided into two groups – at front seats only representatives of white people can sit and the seats in the back of the public transport were meant for African Americans. Moreover, if all places in section for white people were occupied, the first raw of African Americans should move far to the back and free the place for white people. The incident that provoked the boycott, was Mrs. Rosa Park`s refusal to vacant the place as per instructions. The woman got arrested and fined for such act. However, it led to massive boycott by African American community of public transportation. The protest resulted in huge economic losses of public transportation department of Alabama State. One of the biggest activists during this boycott was Martin Luther King, Jr. In November 1956 the US Supreme Court ruled segregation in public transport as unconstitutional.


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The final push in movement for civil rights became March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. This March gathered the greatest amount of participants of peaceful demonstrations so far. One of the most inspirational speeches in the history – “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. was delivered during this demonstration. Around 250 000 people came out at National Mall with united goal to get equal access to public facilities, schools, jobs and housing. The outcome of this fact was adopting by the Congress of Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Voting Rights Act a year later.

Civil Rights act is known as a most comprehensive document that defend civil rights regardless the race of citizen. Originally it was created by John F. Kennedy however due to massive resistance; the acceptance of this bill got delayed. After all, the bill passed with results 73 to 27 in June 1964. This act was a great victory for activists of the movement. In the same time it was considered as an enormous threat to citizens in the Southern States. Series of cruel attacks on African Americans took place between 1964 and 1965, the most notorious of which is known as “Bloody Sunday”. Those were desperate attempts of southerners to preserve the old order. However such violations led into new law – Voting Rights act. This law created equal opportunities to vote and get elected. The Voting rights act was a great step not only for civil rights movement, but for democracy as well.

There is no doubt that civil rights movement was a great success and caused a significant shift of beliefs in society. Today it is already impossible to imagine different sections for people of different races in subway or bus. However there are still numerous issues arise concerning tolerance between races. Although, today it is far less dangerous than at the beginning of XX century, African Americans still suffer from psychological pressure, which resulted in bullying and abusive language. So, educating children from the earliest age of race tolerance should be a priority for appropriate institutions nowadays.

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