The Black Civil Rights Movement The Black civil rights movement emerged as a mass movement in the
1950s but its long term origins go back much to the abolition of
slavery and the failure of States to implement the 14th and 15th
amendments which guaranteed ex-slave rights as defined in the
constitution. Just after the end of slavery the reconstruction era
began, it allowed blacks many opportunities that had never been open
to them before, during this time there was a change in many areas of
culture in America. Black music was popular as was some black art, but
most importantly of all it seemed to offer equality before the law and
by the 1880s black Americans took these constitutional rights as
theirs. The reason that the civil rights campaign began is because
individual southern states introduced 'Jim Crow' laws which encouraged
segregation. These states claimed that it did not break the 14th and
15th amendments because they were 'separate but equal' and in 1897 the
Supreme Court found in favour of segregation in Plessey v Ferguson.
Black pressure groups were formed such as the Niagara movement and the
NAACP. To combat this, the NAACP had more middleclass members. They
investigated lynchings, publicised injustices, tried to prevent
violations of the constitution and tried to ensure that segregation
was equal. Their membership went from 329 members in 1912 to 500,000
in 1946 and they were a major participant in the civil rights movement
in the 1950s.
By 1950 the civil rights movement became a mass movement; this was
because for the first time there was cross-class co...
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...ears with groups like the N.A.A.C.P. leading the way and figures such
as Marcus Garvey restoring black pride. And by the 1950s the law
finally agreed that separate but equal was not giving blacks the
rights guaranteed to them under the 14th and 15th amendments. The
civil rights movement no longer needed to prove segregation was
unconstitutional but now needed to fight to have it enforced. The Cold
War also showed America that although they claimed theirs was the land
of the free, in fact almost every black in America had been racially
persecuted; this realisation meant that the civil rights movement
gained more support from whites as well as blacks. Now leaders like
King, and Malcolm X in the later years of his life, needed to apply
pressure to ensure blacks gained their rights and both lost their
lives for this fight.