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American Civil Rights. Background. 1700-1790: Several black slave revolts occurred; the Constitution of Vermont is the first to abolish slavery 1790-1810: Manumission of slaves in some free states; in 1808 the importation of slaves in America was banned

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  • 1700-1790: Several black slave revolts occurred; the Constitution of Vermont is the first to abolish slavery

  • 1790-1810: Manumission of slaves in some free states; in 1808 the importation of slaves in America was banned

  • 1861-1865: Tens of thousands of enslaved African American slaves escaped to Union lines for freedom (Underground Railroad); the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect

  • 1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution went into effects, the abolishment of slavery

  • 1860s: The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by white Confederate veterans

  • 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of male citizens to vote regardless of colour or previous condition of servitude

Civil rights movement origins
Civil Rights Movement Origins...

  • Prosperity that was accessible to many whites, was not available to everyone

  • Black Americans were largely excluded

  • Example: Suburban neighbourhoods

Experiences of african americans
Experiences of African Americans...

  • 1950s/1960s

  • Racism was prominent throughout society

  • Faced hiring discrimination & unequal pay/opportunity

  • Discriminatory real estate practice

    • Kept to inner city neighbourhoods (out of suburbs)

    • Kept in areas with poor schools and education

  • In the South, segregation was the law

    • Required that blacks and whites attend separate schools and churches and use different facilities

First signs of activism
First Signs of Activism...

  • Grew out of political organizations and churches (1950s)

  • First area of focus was education

  • 1954: Brown v. Board of Education

    • Decided that segregation based on race in Educational facilities was no longer legal

  • Despite this decision, little change resulted

    Additional Resource (Brown v. Board of Education Video)

Montgomery alabama
Montgomery, Alabama...

  • Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)

  • Non-violent protest of racial segregation on buses

  • Result of the arrest of Rosa Parks

  • Refused to give up her seat for other white passengers

    • Arrested and found guilty

  • Many participants were arrested or their livelihood was threatened

  • Law of bus segregation was challenged in court

    • November 13, 1956- declared unconstitutional

Additional Resource (Montgomery Bus Boycott Video)

Little rock arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas...

  • Little Rock Central High School (1957)

  • NAACP made attempts to enrol blacks in white schools after the Brown v. Board of Education decision

  • Nine African American students selected to attend

  • On the first day of school, they were prevented from entering by Arkansas National Guard

    • Were also harassed, threatened and at the centre of protest by other student

  • President Eisenhower enforced orders of the Federal court and deployed 101st Airborne Division to protect the students

American civil rights

Additional Resource (Central High/Little Rock Video)

Protesting sit ins
Protesting: Sit-Ins...

  • 1960

  • Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Four black college students sat at Woodworth’s Lunch Counter protesting African American exclusion from that location

  • Peaceful protest

  • Inspired other sit-ins (spread to most segregated states)

  • Some participants escorted from the lunch area and jailed

  • Led to the formation of the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee (SNCC)

Additional Resource (Greensboro Sit Ins Video)

Freedom rides
Freedom Rides...

  • Journeys on interstate buses into segregated Southern states

  • First freedom ride departed from Washington on May 4, 1961

  • Aimed to integrate bus seating and desegregate bus stations

    • Including washrooms, drinking fountains and waiting areas

  • Many participants were violently attacked and injured

  • Kennedy ordered the re-issue of a desegregation order

    • Passengers were then permitted to sit anywhere on buses and use integrated facilities

American civil rights

Additional Resource: Freedom Riders Video)

March on washington
March on Washington...

  • August 28th, 1963

  • 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of Emancipation

  • Focused on:

    • Civil Rights Laws

    • Federal works

    • Full/fair employment

    • Decent housing

    • Adequate integrated education

  • Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream..” speech

  • Helped pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights (1965)

American civil rights

Additional Resource: March on Washington Video)

New legislation
New Legislation...

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    • Banned discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin in employment practices and public accommodation

    • Nullified state and local laws legalizing segregation and discrimination


  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    • Outlawed discriminatory voting practices

    • Eliminated the prevention of blacks and other minorities from voting



  • 1954- Brown v. Board of Education

  • 1955- Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

  • 1957- Little Rock Nine

  • 1961- Freedom Riders and the desegregation of bus terminals

  • 1963- The Birmingham Campaign/ March on Washington

  • 1964- Martin Luther King Jr. wins Nobel Peace Prize

  • 1964 (July)- Civil Rights Act is passed

  • 1965- March for Freedom/ Voting Rights Act passed

  • 1968- Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated

  • 1972- Congress approves the Equal Rights Amendment

  • 2008- Barack Obama is elected the 44th president of the United States

Questions to consider
Questions to Consider...

  • Even though the fight for equality has begun many years prior to the 1950s, had much changed since the post Civil War era?

  • What were African Americans fighting for?

  • Do you believe that true equality of races has been in achieved in the United States? In the world?

Additional resources
Additional Resources...

  • Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream...” speech (video)


  • Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream...” speech (text)


  • Montgomery Bus Boycott- Online activity