Amy Kay Smith
Supervisor: Mr. Ashley Snow
Citation Style: Chicago
Table of Contents
Background Information 4-6
Violence during the Civil Rights Movement 6-9
Violence vs Nonviolence 9-11
Impact of the Civil Rights Movement
The American Civil Rights Movement took place during the 1950s and 1960s for black to gain equal rights. This included equal opportunity in employment, housing, and education, and also the right to vote. With the civil right movement not having a social or political movement of the 20th century has had a severe effect on the legal and political organizations of the United States. This movement gave African Americans the rights of citizenship guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments, which was later destroyed by the segregationist Jim Crow Laws in the South. The federal government was forced many times so that it can enforce the law and protect the rights of African American citizens. During the Civil War period the 14th amendment in 1868 granted equal protection of the laws, and the 15th amendment in 1870 gave all males of every race the right to vote. African Americans had more than enough of prejudice and violence against whites. Troops from the north occupied the south from 1865 to 1877 to enforce the abolition of slavery. The southern states that were no longer controlled by carpetbaggers and freedmen that passed a diversity of laws that discriminated on the basis of race and also requiring the separation of whites from “persons of colour.” These variety of laws were called Jim Crow Laws or the black codes, “Jim Crow Laws” was established in the south starting in the late 19th century. As we all should know, blacks wasn’t allowed to use the same public facilities as whites, live in the same towns, or attend the same schools. Jim Crow laws were never adopted in northern states, blacks still experienced discrimination at the jobs they attended and even when they tried to buy a house or get an education. In order to isolate the blacks, they kept them separated from whites and erased the progress they’d made during Reconstruction. The progress that was made was when the blacks took on leadership roles, the held public office and made legislative changes for equality.
Preceding to World War II, blacks were low-wage farmers, factory workers, and servants. By the early 1940s, the war related work was flourishing, but most blacks still weren’t given the better paying jobs. With the blacks not being able to get better paying jobs this made them become discouraged from joining the military. So, this lead them on to the march on Washington to demand equal employment rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order on June 25, 1941 that opened national defense jobs and also government jobs for all the Americans nevertheless of race and national origin. President Harry Truman began a civil rights agenda, in 1948 issued another executive order 9981 to end discrimination in the military. Despite suffering segregation and discrimination during their deployment, black men and women served determinedly in World War II. This led into why America had entered the war to begin defending freedom and democracy in the world. These events helped set the role to enact racial equality legislation and the civil rights movements. During the 1960s this where the civil rights movement started to awaken in the sense of many black community fought for social equality. It was then said that many organizations decided up for their rights and cause to attempt to end the many contributions they have faced. It is well known said that the strongest voice during the civil rights movement is that Martin Luther King, he is who advocates changes by nonviolent means. He tried to change the society and the events through challenging the laws that defended discrimination. However, there was another African American movement that challenged American society and that movement was called Black Power movement. The Black Power Movement was a political and social movement whose supporters believed in racial pride, that took place in the 1960s and 1970s. The Black Power movement was different compared from Martin Luther King’s movement. It was different because it focused more on empowering African Americans and inspiring segregation. The Americans were strongly influenced by Malcolm X, he is the person who provided them with a message in the 1960s that later changed and inspired many leaders of the Black Power Movement.
Another Movement that had awaken during the 1960s was the Black Panther, originally named Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The party’s purpose was to patrol African American communities to protect the people that live there from acts of police brutality. The founders of the Black Panther Party Huey Newton and Bobby Seale found this movement during the assassination of Malcolm X and after policeman in San Francisco shot and murdered an unarmed black teen named Matthew Johnson. During the following month, the Black Panther Party marched on the California state capital with protection. The state’s protest attempted to outlaw the fact of carrying loaded weapons in public. While Bobby Seale was reading a protest, he gets arrested along with 30 other armed black panthers. The Black Panther also we’re involved in multiple violent encounters with police. One of the founders of the Black Panther movement Huey Newton killed an Oakland police officer, who was known as John Frey. The Black Panther has four aspirations, and they are; equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights. Those aspirations had a 10point plan that followed along to get to its desired goals. 1.) “Freedom; the power to determine the destiny of the black communities. 2.) Full Employment; give every person a guaranteed income. 3.) End to robbery of the black communities; the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules as promised to ex-slaves. 4.) Decent housing fit for the shelter of house beings; land should be made into cooperative. 5.) Education for the people; education that teaches the true history of Blacks. 6.) Free healthcare; health facilities would develop preventive medical programs. 7.) End to police brutality and murder of Black people and of other races. 8.) End to all wars of aggression; the various conflicts which
exist directly from the United States ruling circle. 9.) Freedom for all political prisoners; trails by juries that’s represents the peers. 10.) Land, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace, community control of modern industry.”
Body: Violence during the Civil Rights Movement
In 1955 Reverend George Lee, Vice President of the NAACP worker was shot in the face and killed for advising blacks in the Mississippi Delta to vote. Even though eyewitnesses say they saw a carload of whites drive by and shoot Lee’s vehicle, the authorities failed to charge anyone for the murder of Lee. During the same year 1955, Lamar Smith a sixty-three year old farmer and World War II veteran was also shot and killed similar to Lee for urging blacks to vote. Although the sheriff saw a whit man leaving the premises with blood all over him but still no one admitted to seeing the shooting. On August 28, 1955, in Money, Mississippi, a 14 year old Emmett Till, an African American from Chicago was brutally murdered for flirting with a white woman four days earlier. Emmett Till attended a segregated elementary school, but he was not really prepared for the level of segregation he encountered in Mississippi. On August 24th, Emmett was standing with his cousins and some of his friends outside a country store in Money, and Emmett made a comment about his girlfriend back home was white. Emmett’s friends didn’t believe that he had a white girlfriend, so he was dared to ask the white woman sitting behind the store counter out on a date. There were no witnesses in the store, but Carolyn Bryant claimed later that he grabbed her, made lustful advances and whistled at her as he walked out. Roy Bryant the woman’s husband returned home from a business trip a few days later. He had heard how Emmett had supposedly spoken to his wife. So, Roy went to the home of Till’s uncle, Mose Wright, and also his brother in law J.W Milam. Roy and his wife’s brother demanded them to let him see Emmett. When they got a hold onto Emmett they made him carry a 75 pound cotton gin fan to the Tallahatchie River, they demanded Emmett to take off his clothes. The two men then brutally beat him to death. Emmett had his eye cut out, he was shot in the head and his body was tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire and was thrown into the river. In 1961, a farmer Hebert Lee was shot and killed by E.H. Hurst. Hurst murdered Lee because of his participation in the voting campaign that swept through southwest Mississippi. During the Civil Rights Movement, there was a lot of violence that took place. On February 21, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the assassination of Malcolm X took place. Many people thought that cause of his death was a result of an ongoing feud between him and the Nation of Islam. A week before his death, Malcolm’s home that was owned by the Nation of Islam. The nation of Islam was seeking to evict him but instead the firebombed his home, Malcolm knew then that the members of Nation of Islam was responsible for his home. The effects of Malcolm X’s death changed everything. His death had a devastating impact on the struggle against racism. Bloody Sunday took place on a Sunday of January 30,1972, there was around ten thousand people that gathered in Creggan area of Derry for the civil rights march. After prolonged fights between groups of local youths and the army at barricades set up to prevent the march. Reaching its intended destination, Guildhall Square paratroopers moved to make the arrests. During the chaos they opened fire on the crowd, killing thirteen and wounding 13 others. All of the people that were dead were all men the aged between seventeen and forty-one. One man of the age of fifty-nine died months later from his injuries sustained on that day. The British Army maintained that its troops had responded after coming under fire but the people of the Bogside (a neighborhood outside the city walls of Derry) saw it as murder. The cause of this event was to raise awareness of the civil rights movement but particularly voting rights. On October 15, 1966 as I mentioned before, the Black Panthers and 10 Point Programme was awakened and the start of this event began when people weren’t satisfied with Martin Luther King Jr’s nonviolent protest and the way he had handled the situation. Others say that the Non-Violent protests were taking to long. Which leads us into the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. His death took place in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. The cause of his death was because of his distinction in the civil rights movement, a few people didn’t like. The rights that’s Martin Luther King Jr fought for and the things that he believed in didn’t quite sit well with some people. That is the reason why he was assassinated. A civil rights activist heather Booth described Martin Luther King’s death as “rupture.” Booth also stated “it was like the breaking of a dream, the breaking of our hopes,” during an interview with CNN. The cause of King’s death meant the end of the struggle of nonviolence. Bob Zellner, a civil rights organizer was also devasted by his death because he counted on Martin Luther as one of his mentors. Zellner stated that “We began to see it as a pattern of repression against the advancements of the civil rights movement. With all the other violence going on during this time was just too much for them to handle. Another activist Bob Moore said in the interview that he was having a planning session at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee office when he received the word of Martin Luther’s assassination. Moore states that they “immediately switched gears ran off 50,000 leaflets.” The message he was trying to get across was “Don’t mourn, organize” Moore told CNN. Although black and whites mourned King’s passing, the killing in a way served as the division between black and white Americans. Many blacks saw King’s assassination as a rejection of their powerful pursuit of equality through the nonviolent counteraction he had conquered. As soon as Moore and his colleagues had planned to take a day and mourn the loss of Martin Luther King, but their effort in morning the loss were cut off by riots that broke out in Baltimore. Others in the movement reassured that Martin Luther King’s work should be carried on. Violence vs Nonviolence
In some perspectives, violence can be a good and a bad thing. Violence could be used to solve things, for example as mention before Malcolm X wanted to use violence to get freedom for blacks. There were nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement such as the Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream”, the Greensboro sit in, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Freedom riders. The protest techniques that were used during the civil rights movement turned out to have a really big difference in the outcome. During 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott, a mass protest against the bus system of Montgomery, Alabama came about. The event that triggered the boycott the most took place in Montgomery on December 1, 1955, after a seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. Although Rosa Parks knew that the local laws indicated that African American passengers sat at the back of the bus while whites sat in front, and if the white section became full African American had to give up their seats in the back. When this situation came across Rosa she still refused to give up her seat to a white rider. Rosa was then taken to jail and was later bailed out by a local civil rights leader. In 1960 there was a protest that had started when young African American students staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and that protest was called the Greensboro sit-in. The Greensboro Four consisted of four young black men that staged the first sit-in at that lunch counter. Those four young men were named, Ezell Blair Jr, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil. They all attended the same school, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. Those students had refused to leave after being denied their service. These college students were influenced by the nonviolent protest techniques that was once practiced by Mohandas Gandhi. Blair, Richmond, McCain, and McNeil planned their protest very carefully and they had help from a local white businessman named Ralph Johns. On February 5th, at least 300 students had joined the protest that was taking place at Woolworth’s. This protest began to spread all over national television, with this protest taking place it soon spread to college towns throughout the South. Although many of the protesters were arrested for things such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, their actions made a long lasting impact, that forced Woolworth’s and other foundations to change their policies. The Freedom Ride took place on May 4, 1961, seven blacks and six whites left Washington, DC on two public buses loaded to take a trip to the Deep South. The riders intention was to test the Supreme Courts ruling in Boynton v. Virginia in 1960. The case declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations as unconstitutional. The Freedom Rides of 1961 was organized by an organization, Congress of Racial Equality. The first few days, the riders only encountered minor hostility, but the second week approached, and the riders were severely beaten. On the outside of Anniston, Alabama, the Greyhound bus was surrounded with 200 angry white people, causing the driver to continue past the bus station. The mob followed the buses in automobiles, and when the tires on the bus blew out, someone threw a bomb into the bus, causing the bus to explode. The Freedom Riders escaped the Greyhound bus as it burst into flames. As the riders escaped the bus, they were brutally beaten by members of the surrounding mob. Then the second bus, a Trailways vehicle traveled to Birmingham and there several whites attacked the riders and they were only two blocks away from the sheriff’s office. Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor stated that even though he knew the Riders were arriving and that violence was awaiting them he didn’t have police at the station because it was Mother’s Day. Most of CORE’s Freedom Riders were transported from Birmingham, Alabama to New Orleans.
In conclusion, though the nonviolent protests changed history for today, if the violent protest would have occurred differently, I think things would still be the same as they were before. As we all know, Martin Luther King was an important person in our society. He wanted freedom just like we all wanted freedom, but he handled the situation differently from how others did. He wanted the segregation to stop between white and blacks, and they thought that violence is the answer to everything, so Martin handled that by writing the “I have a dream” speech. He wanted change and he got what he always desired to have. As for the Greensboro sit-in and the Freedom Riders, they all stood up for what they believed in and they protested nonviolently. With reading more about these events that took place opened my eyes and opened the eyes of others so that we can see that these people did anything, just so they could be free.
“Malcolm X Assassinated – Feb 21, 1965.” HISTORY.com. Last modified February 21.https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/malcolm-x-assassinated”The Role Of Violence Protests In The Civil Rights Movement.” Questions & Answers for Students. Last modified April 19, 2017. https://collectifbdp.com/the-role-of-violence-protests-in-the-civil-rights-movement/.
“Civil Rights Movement: Factions, Violence, and Challenge to Whig Historiography | HIST 2984: Intepreting the 1960’s.” [email protected] | Provided by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS). Last modified January 29, 2014. https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/thelong1960s/2014/01/29/civil-rights-movement-factions-violence-and-challenge-to-whig-historiography/.
Jennifer Hansler, CNN. “What Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death Did to Civil Rights Leaders.” CNN. Last modified April 4, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/04/politics/civil-rights-activists-martin-luther-king-jr-legacy/index.html.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination – Black History.” HISTORY.com. Accessed July 25, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination.