The Civil Rights Movement (1955- 1965)

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Civil Rights Movement in the United States, was a political, legal, and social struggle to gain full citizenship rights for African Americans and to achieve racial equality. The civil rights movement was a challenge to segregation, the system of laws and customs separating blacks and whites.

During the civil rights movement, individuals and organizations challenged segregation and discrimination with a variety of activities, including protest marches, boycotts, and refusal to abide by segregation laws. Some believe that the movement began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there is still however some debate about when it began and whether it has ended yet. The civil rights movement has also been called the Black Freedom Movement, the Negro Revolution, and the Second Reconstruction.

Segregation was an attempt by white Southerners to separate the races in every sphere of life and to achieve supremacy over blacks. Segregation was often called the Jim Crow system. Segregation became common in Southern states following the end of Reconstruction in 1877.

By 1877 the Democratic Party had gained control of government in the Southern states, and these Southern Democrats wanted to reverse black advances made during Reconstruction. To that end, they began to pass local and state laws that specified certain places ?For Whites Only? and others for ?Colored.? Blacks had separate schools, transportation, restaurants, and parks, many of which were poorly funded and inferior to those of whites. Over 75 years, Jim Crow signs went up to separate the races in every possible place.

The system of segregation also included the denial of voting rights, known as disfranchisement. Between 1890 and 1910 all Southern states passed laws imposing requirements for voting that were used to prevent blacks from voting, These requirements included: the ability to read and write, which disqualified the many blacks who had not had access to education; property ownership, something few blacks were able to acquire; and paying a poll tax, which was too great a burden on most Southern blacks, who were very poor. Because blacks could not vote, they were virtually powerless to prevent whites from segregating all aspects of Southern life.

Conditions for blacks in Northern states were somewhat better, up to 1910 only 10 percent of bl...

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...y?s administration and the Congress to pass the civil rights legislation proposed by Kennedy by planning a march in Washington for August 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a moving address to an audience of more than 200,000 civil rights supporters. His ?I Have a Dream? speech .

Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963,and the new president, Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress. It prohibited segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment.

After the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the focus of the civil rights movement began to change. Martin Luther King, Jr., began to focus on poverty and racial inequality in the North. In 1965 he joined protests against school discrimination in Chicago and the following year he led marches against housing discrimination in the same city.

For many activists the civil rights movement ended in 1968 with the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Others said it was over after the Selma march, because after Selma the movement stopped achieving major change. Some, especially blacks, argue that the movement is not over yet because the goal of full equality has not been achieved.

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