The Civil Rights Movement

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The 50s, 60s and 70s were a tumultuous time in American society. Roles were constantly being redefined. Events like the war created upheaval in the lives of many individuals and everyone was scrambling to find his or her place in society. The same was profoundly true for blacks in America. No societal movement had a more profound effect on the lives of Black Americans than did the Civil Rights Movement. The status of Black Americans would be redefined to a revolutionary degree. Civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X would bring the cause to the national stage. Although the movement was plagued with violence and death, it was eventually successful. The South was radically changed from a society of Jim Crow segregation to a South where all men (and women) are truly created equal. The 1896 case, Plessy vs. Ferguson, established the validity of "separate but equal" treatment of blacks in the south. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas changed all of that. The case ruled that separate but equal was unconstitutional. It started with Linda Brown, a little black girl who, while living only 2 blocks from a white school, was forced to ride twenty-one blocks to a black school. The NAACP took up the case and won. Southern whites were shocked and angry. That, however, was just the beginning. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. She was arrested for her actions. This seemingly small event catalyzed the Civil rights movement. The NAACP decided that this presented an excellent opportunity to end segregation of public transportation. They decided to... ... middle of paper ... ...piness. Notes 1. Western Michigan University, "1954: Brown v. Board of Education," Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement, 24 October 1999, http://www.wmich.edu/poilitics/mlk/ (17 January 1996). 2 Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom. America in Black and White. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 113. 3 Thernstrom, 116. 4 Kevin S. Hollaway, "Black Suffrage," Civil Rights: A Status Report, 24 October 1999, http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil.htm (24 December 1998). 5 Hollaway, "Spontaneous Reactions." 6 Thernstrom, 127. 7 Hollaway, "Birmingham, 1963." 8 Western Michigan University, "March on Washington." 9 Thernstrom, 150. 10 Thernstrom, 158. 11 Thernstrom, 159. 12 Halloway, "The Legacy of Malcolm X." 13 Halloway, "The Assassination of Martin Luther King."
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