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Civil Rights. Freedom Riders. Sit-ins. ~ Volunteers, African American and white, rode in interstate buses into the segregated Southern US

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freedom riders

Civil Rights

Freedom Riders

Sit-ins

~ Volunteers, African American and white, rode in interstate buses into the segregated Southern US

~ They did this to test the 1960 United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia, which outlawed racial segregation in interstate transportation facilities, including bus stations and railroad terminals

~ A total of 436 Freedom Riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, violating state and local “Jim Crow” laws, etc.

~ The worst violence occurred when buses approached Birmingham, Alabama

~ Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor openly conspired with Ku Klux Klan members to beat and harass Freedom riders

~ In Anniston, Alabama, a bus was firebombed, forcing those Freedom Riders to exit, once they did, they were viciously beaten

~ Freedom Riders inspired many subsequent civil rights campaigns, including voter registration, freedom schools, and the black power movement

  • The basic plan of the sit-ins was that a group of students would go to a lunch counter and ask to be served. If they were, they’d move on to the next lunch counter, if they were not, they would not move until they had been
  • If they were arrested, a new group would take their place
  • the students would be dressed up in their best Sunday clothing
  • When Northern students heard of the movement, they decided to help their Southern counterparts by picketing local branches of chain stored that were segregated in the South
  • On February 27, 1960, sit-in students in Nashville were attacked by a group of white teenagers. Police arrived but they let the white teens go while arresting the protesters for ”disorderly conduct”
  • In addition, the technique of the sit-in was used to integrate other public facilities, such as movie theaters

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kennedy and civil rights

Violence in Birmingham

Kennedy and Civil Rights

~ In 1962, James Meredith, an African American, tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi, but he was prevented from doing so by white students

~ Kennedy responded by sending some 400 federal marshals and 3000 troops to ensure that Meredith could enroll

~ Kennedy also assigned federal marshals to protect Freedom Riders

~ President Kennedy initially believed his views on civil rights would only anger many Southern whites and make it even more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress, which was dominated by Southern Democrats

~ As A result of him distancing himself from civil rights, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as unsupportive of their efforts

~ On June 11, 1963, Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop African American students from enrolling

~ Wallace moved aside after being confronted by federal marshals, and the Alabama National Guard

  • After violence broke out in Birmingham in Alabama, Kennedy sided entirely with Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights workers.
  • In April of 1963, King lead a march through Alabama. In Birmingham, the police commissioner Eugene Connor used violence against the demonstrators in the form of fire hoses, clubs, and snarling dogs.
  • The media came into play here, carrying pictures of the brutal attacks against men, women, and children alike into homes all over America
  • In response, Kennedy sent 3,000 troops in to restore peace. That June, a new civil rights bill was proposed by Kennedy, stating that segregation was now outlawed throughout the nation
trouble in southern universities
Trouble in Southern Universities
  • September 1962: James Meredith, Mississippi – A veteran of the Air Force, he requested permission to attend the University of Mississippi. The Governor defied the court order and refused him entrance, declaring “Never! We will never surrender to the evil and illegal forces of tyranny.” federal marshals, and eventually the Mississippi National Guard were called upon by Kennedy to allow Meredith entrance to the university. He was able to attend classes safely, however two people died in a mob action.
  • June 1963: Alabama – Another civil rights issue is dealt with at the University of Alabama.
  • The violence of these confrontations convinced Kennedy of the need for federal legislation regarding segregation and discrimination. He proposed laws forbidding segregation in stores, restaurants, hotels, theatres, and in employment.
  • However, schools did not cooperate with the federal laws, and remained segregated. Most southern African-American school children remained in all-black schools.
the march on washington

The March

The March On Washington

Introduction

Civil Rights Act

August 28, 1963.

  • The March on Washington earned much support from the Congress for a civil rights bill
  • Passed the House of Representatives in February 1964, but met resistance at the Senate, where the States were equally represented (Southerners opposed it)
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed
    • Outlawed segregation of public facilities
    • Prohibited racial, gender, and religious discrimination in the workforce and in education
    • Strengthened right to vote
  • Voting Rights Act
    • Helped minorities such as Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans vote
  • “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”
  • Held in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
  • Arguably the largest and most famous civil rights demonstration ever held in the United States
  • Over 200 000 demonstrators attended, both black and white people, marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial
  • Included singing hymns and musical performances, and was covered extensively by the media
  • King’s famous speech, “I have a dream…” was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial
  • Demands:
    • Passage of Civil Rights Legislation
    • Abolition of school segregation
    • Prohibition of racial discrimination in the workforce
    • Protection against police violence