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The Story of Civil Rights Movements in America

The Montgomery Bus Bycott

The story of civil rights movements in America can be traced back to the Montgomery bus boycott that was instigated by Rosa Parks’s refusal to relinquish her seat to the white extremists. This was the chance that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to become in the limelight of the civil right movements. A series of struggles had been following that case until he was assassinated by some killer who fired Martin Luther King later in 1968. King death resulted in the mixed feelings of shock, grief and rage among his many accomplices and even further threatened to bring the movement struggles down to its knees. However, the announcement made by Martin Luther King’s brother stated that the strike of the Memphis sanitation workers was to show a landmark victory in few days after his leader’s death. In the following years, the movement saw a shift to the next phase that presented a new and more complicated terrain of struggles focused on the reforms it had already implemented and the constant hurdles it was facing.

The Civil Right Legislation

The civil right legislation of the mid 1960s served as a good ground for the development of the real struggles for achieving equality in jobs, politics, education, and military. Moreover, the movement did not take advantage of the civil right act of 1964 to open public accommodations like bus stations and lunch counters but it also made the first large scale progress that led to halting the job segregation. The movement held onto the power provided by Title VII of the Civil Right Act; it mobilized hundreds of workers in a protest that aimed at bringing to an end the chains of segregation and discrimination. On the other hand, the unions took upon themselves to improve the environments in the existing work places, inspired by the Memphis sanitation workers. Here, the African women worked alongside their male counterparts and were aware of the fact that men gained a higher pay and had more chances for promotion. So, they began struggle against their discrimination.

Segregation in Schools

With regard to school segregation, Title IV of the Civil Right Act and many other court victories served as a significant advancement to change this long-standing obstacle. In the same line, the voting rights Act of 1965 presented African Americans a great chance to take part in the electoral politics. The South had the greatest impact on this new development, following the partnership created between the enfranchised black voters and the liberal and moderate whites. Consequently, more African Americans were elected; that was a case that had never been seen since the reconstruction period. For example, in the west and north cities of the USA, the African American communities gained a great representation as they had never had before. Furthermore, approximately 43 African American candidates won mayoral positions in 1973. This number increased to almost 160 black candidates in the year that followed.

This new era of the civil right movements saw the freedom struggle shift from the streets to other institutional spheres. Civil right movements infiltrated the institutions of higher learning. The African American students fought for the creation of financial aid policies and study programs that would incorporate them. The civil right quest further touched the American Military workforce that saw an affirmative action adopted to employ African Americans, thus violating the equity in that arm of public service.

In face of the realities of the 1960s, civil right movement took a new direction as it confronted a new concern and forged new coalitions. This newly developed stage of struggle also worked to create alliances that would be more active and efficient in solving the issues of other groups facing similar problems of inequality and discrimination. For instance, Jews and blacks worked hand in hand with Latinos and Asian Americans in campaigns for fundamental equal treatment and better welfare. In the 1970s, campuses worked to realize “Third World Coalition” that sought to gain shared demands for ethnic studies program and open admission. For instance, feminist and mainstream civil rights groups supported each other in lawsuits that were meant to open institutions for all and further end the discriminatory employment. Among the many activist groupings allied to the movement, there was the Black and Puerto Rican Activist. The group worked together with white feminists to bring to an end the practice of sterilization abuse, from which the black women suffered. Furthermore, this group sought far-reaching reproductive rights, like child and maternal health care. Contrary to mainstream male–led civil rights groups, the white women and progressive Catholics served as stronger allies to the poor black women.


Later, homosexuals in America were inspired by the civil right movements to fight for impartiality and fairness they had not had yet. This came with the rise of the gay right activists who in turn stirred up the gay right opponents to fight for the enactment of the gay right laws. Today, this has become a major and controversial legal battle taking a centre stage in the many debates. The proponents argued that as any other citizen in the country, they deserved equal treatment in the society; they arguments were backed by the civil right movements’ struggles for equity.

At the bottom of this, movements got the communal development and self-determination based on the legislative victories of the 1960s. Following this, tremendous intellectual and cultural creativity sparked. The black arts’ movement created rebirth in literature, music, theater and dance. Black history took a central role is a dynamic field of America history and was led by such scholars like John Hope Franklin (1915 – 2009). For instance, afro hair style became a fashion along with the African–made dress styles like the kente and dashiki cloth. All across the cities in the USA, community planners began to work deriving their funds from Great Society programs. This mainly targeted at the alleviation of poverty and hopelessness while generating resources and power to stir up community advancement.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that despite the gains of the 1960s, the civil right advocates agree that desegregation had not taken a complete turn that would have worked to change the lives of the black Americans. This was even furthered by the big differences arising amongst them with regard to the future advancement of the black struggle. The many efforts to fight for the civil right realized in the later years of 1970 and in the 1980s only served to uphold the previous victories and strengthen the enforcement programs. In the present day, the African American civil right movement has managed to transform American democracy significantly. There have been many controversies over the affirmative programs and compensatory remedies for the past deep-rooted patterns of segregation. Debates that are more fundamental are the main agenda in the world today as they focus on the limitations of individual rights, the part played by the government in this issue and alternative concept of social justice.


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