I. The Beginning. ‘Jim Crow’ signs of segregation In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled segregation was constitutional in Plessy vs. Ferguson, establishing the “separate-but-equal” doctrine. De facto segregation – states that had not passed “Jim Crow Laws” (laws segregating buses, schools, and other public facilities), had segregation by customs and traditions. African Americans had more political power since WWII & FDR’s New Deal programs; powerful in the north due to the ‘Great Migration.’ Dec 1, 1955, first major challenge to legal segregation by Rosa Parks. The U.S. Supreme Court during Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896.
A. NAACP – (Began in 1909) Supported court cases to overturn segregation. B. Sit-ins – Attempt to desegregate restaurants that refused service to African Americans. Sit-in at cafe in Greensboro, NC, 1960. • Members of CORE (Congress of racial Equality; James Farmer and George Houser in Chicago and several other northern cities, 1942-43); If denied service, would sit down and refuse to leave. • Four students in Greensboro, NC, staged the first southern sit-in at Woolworth’s store (1959); the following day, 29 African American students arrived; soon spread to 100 cities. • College students now in civil rights struggle (Jesse Jackson); frustrated with the slow pace of Desegregation; students mostly remained non-violent despite attacks and heckles.
C. Thurgood Marshall – NAACP chief counsel 1. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) – Overturned separate schools based on race. 2. Supreme Court justice. NAACP attorneys James Nabritt, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and George Hayes celebrate the Brown decision (May 17, 1954). Marshall was the first African American on the Supreme Court, appointed by President Johnson in 1967. • Linda Brown won the case against Topeka, KS school board. • Unanimous ruling: “In the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” • Created backlash from southern whites – Southern Congressmembers signed “Southern Manifesto” opposed to Brown ruling, encouraging southerners to defy the court ruling.
Segregation of Hispanicsin the 1950’s Law after Mexican-American War = considered white, but treated differently: lynched, shot, & segregated due to racial codes but not laws. • ‘Sun-Down laws’ – no minority in town after sunset → violence. • Institutional discrimination – schools, bathrooms, etc. • Restrictive Covenants (South) – Home regulations for minorities. • 300K served in WWII, but Longoria not allowed to be buried in white cemetery (Texas).
Hernandez vs. Texas (1954) • The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in Corpus Christi, Texas. • Hernandez shot a man – all-white jury (violate 14th Amend). • White, but “a class apart” • 1st time a Mex-Am tried a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. • Hispanics protected by 14th Amendment. 14th Amendment originally protected rights of freed slaves, but extended to prevent States from depriving rights of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law,” all citizens have equal protection of the law. ► Hernandez was later re-convicted of murder by a jury of his peers.
D. Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955) – Started due to Rosa Parks arrest. 1. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Led the Montgomery Improvement Association to run the boycott. Rosa Parks, 1955. • 26 year old ML King organized the successful bus boycott for over a year, carpools, and negotiations with city officials to end segregation peacefully. • Nonviolent passive resistance; Disobey an unjust law; “We must use the weapon of love.” • 1956, Supreme Court affirmed that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.
E. Eisenhower & Civil Rights. 1. Little Rock, AK (1957) – Court order for Central High School to admit 9 African American students. Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957. • Ike sent the US Army to enforce the authority of the federal gov’t. • First president since Reconstruction to send troops to the South & protect rights. • Ike disagreed with segregation but also didn’t support the Brown ruling, wanted instead to allow segregation to end over time as values changed. Little Rock school of 2,000 whites, racially moderate southern city.
Arkansas Governor, Orval Faubus, was a moderate, but faced re- election, and began campaigning as defender of white superiority; He ordered the AK National Guard to prevent the 9 students from entering the school (challenge to Constitution!). Next day, National Guard troops surrounded school; Angry white mob; Heavy press coverage. Ike ordered the Army’s 101st Airborne to AR; The 9 got into the school; Army stayed the rest of the school year.
2. Civil Rights Act of 1957 – Protected voting rights of African Americans. African Americans registering to vote in 1957. Opposed by Senator Strom Thurman (R – SC), and other conservatives.
F. Challenging Segregation. 1. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – 1960, organized efforts for desegregation & voter registration. a) Ella Baker. Mrs. Ella Josephine Baker (1903-1986) speaks in Mississippi during the aftermath of the murder of three civil rights workers during the summer of 1964. She was a leading force in the Freedom Democratic Party.
2. Freedom Riders - 1961, push to integrate South’s bus terminals. Freedom Ride (1961) • CORE leader James Farmer asked teams of African Americans and whites to travel to the South. • When buses arrived at Anniston, Birmingham, and Montgomery, AL, attacked by white mobs; Slashed tires, rocks threw the windows, firebomb in Anniston. • In Birmingham, the riders faced a gang of white men with baseball bats, chains, and lead pipes and were beaten viciously, later learned to be organized by the cities police chief, Bull Connor. • The violence made national news and shocked Americans. • Occurred less than 4 months into JFK’s term.
G. JFK & Civil Rights. JFK meets with Civil Rights Leaders (1963) • JFK appointed about 40 African Americans to high-level positions in the federal gov’t, including Thurgood Marshall as judge on 2nd Circuit Court in NY. • JFK was cautious about introducing civil rights legislation. • James Meredith blocked from registering at Univ. of Miss by the Governor, Ross Barnett, even though Meredith had a court order (1962). • JFK orders federal marshals to MS but were attacked by white mob, JFK then sends several thousands of army troops; under federal protection the rest of school year.
1. Demonstrations in Birmingham led by MLK, Jr. (1963). MLK was arrested and wrote “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” MLK • Bull Connor (attacks on Freedom Riders) was running for mayor of Birmingham; • Situation was volatile. • MLK was disappointed JFK was focused on foreign affairs (Cuban Missile Crisis). • Letter is one of the most eloquent defenses of nonviolent protests ever written (scraps of paper smuggled into jail). • After MLK released from jail, protests began to grow again; Bull Connor responds to protests with force; Ordered police to use clubs, police dogs, and • high-pressure fire hoses on demonstrators, including women and children. • Millions of Americans saw the violence on tv; JFK prepares a new civil rights bill.
March on Washington – Aug 23, 1963, over 200,000 demonstrators of all races marched to pressure Congress in passing the Civil Rights bill. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…that all men are created equal…I have a dream that one day…the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood…” --- Martin Luther King, Jr. • JFK assassinated on Nov 22, 1963. • Johnson fully committed to pass the Civil Rights bill.
Bayard Rustin • Traveled to India and learned techniques of non-violent resistance from Gandhi’s movement. • Returned to U.S. and became a leading strategist for the civil rights movement. • Traveled to CA to help protect the property of Japanese Americans in internment camps during WWII. • Chief organizer of the 1963 march on Washington where Dr. Marlin Luther King gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. • Bayard Rustin was also gay.
2. Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Most comprehensive civil rights bill Congress ever passed; segregation now illegal. Civil Rights Act of 1964 - Broad power to federal gov’t to prevent racial discrimination, made segregation illegal, and gave all citizens access to public facilities, forced school desegregation, and required private employers to end discrimination in the workplace). (actually got passed by LBJ as president). AL governor, George Wallace: “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace personally stood in front of the Univ of AL’s admission office to block the registering of two African Americans until federal marshals stopped him. JFK used violent events in the South as a platform to announce his civil rights bill. “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free…And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free…Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise.” --- JFK, from the White House, June 11, 1963.
H. Voting Rights. 1. 24th Amendment (1964) – Eliminated federal poll-tax (fees to vote; still pay for state elections). The 24th Amendment ended the Poll Tax on January 23, 1964. Repealing the Poll Tax allowed poor people to vote in elections. Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not address voting issues. • Violent attacks continued, but the SCLS and SNCC stepped up their registration efforts in South. • Across the South, bombs exploded in African American businesses and churches. • Between June and Oct of 1964, 24 African American churches were destroyed. • MLK decided to stage another dramatic protest.
2. The Selma March (1965) – MLK organized march from Selma to Montgomery, AL. • Although Selma, AL, had a majority of African American residents, they made up only 3% of registered voters. • To prevent them from registering to vote, Sheriff Jim Clark had deputized and armed dozens of white citizens (pose) to terrorize and attack African Americans with clubs and electric cattle prods. • Weeks after MLK received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, he declared: “We are not asking, we are demanding the ballot.” • MLK’s demonstrations started with 500 marchers.
Selma, Alabama, 1965. As the marchers reached the Edmund Pettus bridge, Clark ordered them to disperse, when they didn’t, 200 of Clark’s state troopers and deputized men attacked and beat many of the demonstrators as they kneeled to play; Many beaten in full view of tv cameras; 2,000 African Americans arrested (including schoolchildren). Brutal attack came to be known as “Bloody Sunday”; 70 were hospitalized and many others injured.
i. Voting Rights Act of 1965 – U.S. Attorney General can send federal examiners to register qualified voters. Not needed after Obama’s election? Nation was shocked at the footage; LBJ was furious; 8 days later LBJ came before a nationally televised joint session of Congress to propose a new voting rights law. Bypassed the local officials who often refused to register African Americans. The law also outlawed discriminatory devices like literacy tests. Dramatic results: Almost 250,000 registered new voters by end of the year; Elected officials rose from 100 in 1965 to over 5,000 in 1990. Marked a turning point in the civil rights movement. After 1965, African Americans shifted focus to achieving full equality, & poverty. LBJ and MLK, 1965. 2006
II. New Issues. Racism persisted through the 1950’s and 60’s; African Americans trapped in the inner city ghettos; segregated neighborhoods (white flight); high crime & dropout rates; channeled into low paying jobs. Civil Rights movement made progress, but individuals felt they were no better off than before; frustrated. Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers (center), with national president Roy Wilkins & local police (1964).
A. The Watts Riot (1965) – Race riot started over allegations of police brutality. • Race riot erupted just 5 days after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act. • Lasted 6 days; required over 14K National Guard and 1,500 law enforcement officers to restore order; Rioters burned entire neighborhoods; caused $45 million in property damage; killed 34 people and injured 900 people. • Race riots broke out in dozens of US cities between 1965 and 1968. • MLK shifted his focus to economic rights.
B. Black Power. 1. Malcolm X and the Black Muslims (Nation of Islam) – Separate from whites & form own self governing communities. Malcolm X • Malcolm X (Malcolm Little to X as a symbol for his family that was enslaved); charismatic speaker. • Black Muslims did not advocate violence, but did advocate self-defense. • Broke with Black Muslims after scandals and traveled to Mecca (Saudi Arabia); Saw Muslims of different backgrounds worshipping together; New theory on race relations; criticized the Black Muslims until 3 members shot Malcolm X in Feb 1965 while he was giving a speech in NY.
2. Black Panthers – Believed a revolution was necessary to get equal rights; Self- defense. • Organizers considered themselves as heirs to Malcolm X. • Recruited from poor inner-cities; “Ten Point Program.” • Eldridge Cleaver authored best selling book on organization’s goals, Soul on Ice, in 1967. • Many different African American groups with competing philosophies for reaching equality; some included violence which alienated white supporters.
Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) showing the Black Power salute in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, while Silver medalist Peter Norman (left) wears an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to show his support for the two Americans.
C. Assassination of MLK – Apr 4, 1968, in Memphis, TN, by a sniper. King is murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee (1968). • The night before assassination, MLK told a gathering the night before that “I’ve been to the mountaintop… I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promise land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promise land.” • Assassination touched off national morning and riots in over 100 cities.
Activity • Create a ‘Cause and Effect’ chart for the people, events, and groups in this section.