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The Civil Rights Movement. What are “Civil Rights”. ?. Civil Rights means equal rights and fair treatment for all citizens as guaranteed by our Constitution regardless of race or other distinctions (such as gender , religion , sexuality , etc.). What is the greatest

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The Civil Rights Movement

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What are

“Civil Rights”



Civil Rights means equal rights and fair treatment for all citizens as guaranteed by our Constitution regardless of race or other distinctions (such as gender, religion, sexuality, etc.)


What is the greatest

power you have as an




Does our Constitution

give you the right to vote

just because

you are a citizen



African American

Voting Rights

Gained and Denied



  • 1869
  • The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

But did the 15th Amendment

guarantee that

African Americans

would be able to vote



Poll Tax

a fee charged for voting


Literacy Tests

  • Reading tests given to prove a person was literate (able to read) in order to register to vote
  • Often included questions, such as
    • “How many words are in the Constitution?”
    • “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?”
    • “Write a one page essay explaining Article II of the Mississippi State Constitution.”

How could poll taxes

and literacy tests

keep African Americans

from voting





  • Laws that exempted voters from the literacy test or poll tax if they had voted before or if their grandfathers had voted
  • This ensured that even poor illiterate whites could vote.

Plessy v. Ferguson

1896 - Supreme Court ruled that segregation of the races was legal as long as the public facilities provided were essentially equal.

“Separate but equal” became the standard as several more Southern states legalized segregation.


Jim Crow Laws

After the Civil War ex -Confederate states passed laws that required separation of the races.

When the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were legal (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896), several more southern states began to separate Blacks and Whites.

Bus Station in Dallas, Texas



  • A policy of keeping the races separated in public facilities.
  • Different schools, parks, restaurants, hospitals, etc. for different races


Unfair treatment because of differences in race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc.


The Slow Progress


African American

Civil Rights


W.E.B. DuBois

  • First Black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University
  • Founded the NAACP in 1909
  • Demanded immediate and full equality for African Americans


  • Founded in 1909
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Organization dedicated to achieving equality for people of all races and ending racial violence in the South

But the first real


for African American

Civil Rights comes

60 years after the

Plessy v. Ferguson case . . .


Brown v. Topeka Board

of Education

Oliver Brown

9 year old Linda Brown


Brown v. Topeka Board

of Education

  • May, 1954
  • Supreme Court case
  • Ruled that separate facilities could never really be equal. (Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson )
  • Declared segregated schools were illegal
  • The Court ordered schools to integrate the races with “all deliberate speed.”

But what does

“all deliberate speed”

really mean



So school districts in

Southern states

begin the process of







The process of combining the races in public facilities


Clinton, TN Schools Integrated: Dec. 1956


Do you think

the process of

integrating schools

went smoothly



Little Rock

Central High School

  • 1957
  • The Governor of Arkansas defied the Supreme Court and President Eisenhower by refusing to integrate Central High.
  • The Governor used National Guard troops to block the entry of 9 African-American students who had volunteer to be the first to attend this all white school.

The Little Rock Nine

  • Mobs of angry Whites swarmed the high school to protest integration.
  • President Eisenhower placed the National Guard under federal control.
  • He then sent more federal troops (101st Airborne) to Little Rock to escort the “Little Rock Nine” to classes.

Army transport of Black students to Central High School was necessary for their protection all year.


101st Airborne escort the Little Rock Nine into

Central High School and stand guard outside their classrooms throughout the day.


Teacher –

not a student

The Little Rock Nine


The Little Rock Nine 50 years later attend the dedication ceremony of a museum built in their honor (2007).


But de-segregation of

public schools was only

the beginning.

Much more work

would need to be done.


Henry David Thoreau

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?




When a law is bad,



Civil Disobedience

  • Citizens have a duty to disobey a law when it is unjust, especially when it’s unjust to others.
  • Always involves non-violence
  • Method adopted by many civil rights leaders and activists
  • Those who choose to break the law must be willing to suffer the consequences.

Passive Resistance

Ancient strategy of non-violent protest and civil disobedience use throughout history to bring about social and political change. Made famous by Mahatma Gandhi in overthrowing the British control of India.



  • People refuse to buy goods and services from a business.
  • This causes an economic hardship on the company and sometimes forces them to change their policy.
  • It’s a very effective strategy when large numbers of people participate.
  • This strategy was used by the American colonists before the Revolutionary War to force England to repeal tax laws.


  • Non violent strategy in which protestors (both Black and White) go to a segregated business (such as a restaurant), sit down, and attempt to place an order.
  • If they are refused service, they just sit there until forced to leave by the police.
  • Business operators must choose between serving Black customers or having their business disrupted and loosing profit.


  • A form of non-violent protest
  • A large group of people walk together and meet at a designated endpoint.
  • Usually the march ends in a rally with motivational speakers.
  • Our 1st Amendment right to peaceful assembly gives protestors the right march peacefully.



Activists &




  • Congress Of Racial Equality
  • It was the first Civil Rights organization.
  • 1942 – Founded by an interracial group of students at University of Chicago.
  • Its early work was in the North and Midwest, and the majority of its members were middle class Whites.
  • They were devoted to Gandhi’s teachings on non-violence and were the first to organize sit-ins.


  • In the 1950s they began working for racial equality in the South, and their membership became mostly African American.
  • The were directly involved in organizing the Freedom Rides (1961), the March on Washington, (1963) and Freedom Summer (1964).
  • When their national director changed in 1968, they became somewhat more militant and adopted the “Black Power” ideology.

Rosa Parks

  • Dec. 1, 1955 – Montgomery, Alabama
  • State segregation law required Blacks to sit in the back of city buses and give up their seats to white passengers if told to do so by the driver.
  • Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man and was arrested.

Rosa Parks

Secretary for the local chapter of the NAACP



Montgomery Bus


  • Dec. 1955 - After the arrest of Ms. Parks, Civil Rights leaders organized a boycott of the city bus system in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 50,000 Blacks refused to use buses for a year.
  • The bus company lost huge amounts of money, but the city still refused to integrate until a Supreme Court ruling declared segregation on buses (as in schools) was unconstitutional.
  • Dec. 1956 – The Supreme Court ruling took effect and the boycott ended.


  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • In Jan 1957, 60 black ministers met in Atlanta to organize non-violent action to continue de-segregating buses throughout the South.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - President
  • Many Black churches were afraid to join because of threats from White groups.
  • Some Black religious leaders believed that political activism was not the proper role of the church.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • 1929 – Born in Atlanta, GA, the son of a Baptist preacher.
  • 1944 – Age 15 – Enrolled in college after skipping 9th and 12th grades in high school.
  • 1948 – Age 19 – Received a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology.
  • 1951 – Age 22 – Received a Bachelor’s Degree in divinity.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • 1954 – Age 25 – Becomes a Baptist preacher in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 1955 – Age 26 - Helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • 1957 – Age 28 – Became president of the SCLC.
  • 1959 – Age 30 – Visited the birthplace of Gandhi in India and became even more committed to non-violence and passive resistance.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • 1963, April – Arrested and jailed during protests in Birmingham, AL.
  • 1963, August – Helped organize the March on Washington where he delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech.”
  • 1964 – Age 35 - Won the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1968 – Age 39 - Assassinated in Memphis, TN.


  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (“Snick”)
  • Organized in 1960
  • Created so college students could actively participate in the struggle for racial equality.
  • They organized sit-ins, marches, boycotts and other peaceful protests.

Freedom Rides

  • Organized by SNCC and CORE
  • May 4, 1961 - 2 buses filled with black and white activists depart Washington D.C. destined to travel through 7 southern states on the way to New Orleans.
  • Their goal was to test whether the South would obey the Supreme Court rulings to desegregate buses and other facilities.

Freedom Rides

  • Riders were beaten by angry white mobs and arrested along the way
  • One bus was disabled and firebombed in Alabama, and escaping riders were attacked.
  • A new bus was sent out and other riders took the places of the injured to continue.
  • The “freedom riders” continued throughout the summer of 1961.

Project c

  • C = Confrontation
  • April, 1963 – MLK and the SCLC organized peacefulprotests, demonstrations, and sit-ins to protest segregation and unfair hiring practices in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • MLK and the SCLC decided to allow children to participate in the protests.

Why do you think the

organizers decided to

allow children to

participate in the protests



Some people thought

including children was

a bad idea. Why



Birmingham Riot

  • Public Safety Commissioner, Bull Conner, a bigoted racist ordered the police and firemen to stop the protestors.
  • They used attack dogs and high-pressure fire hoses to disperse crowds.
  • Protesters were beaten with clubs.
  • 900 protesters were jailed, including children as young as 6 years old.

Thaddeus “Bull” Conner

A symbol of southern white bigotry and hatred


“The Citadel of Segregation”


Fire hose water pressure can be as great 1200 pounds of force. Professional boxers punch with a force between 700 and 1200 pounds, often causing injury to internal organs.


Birmingham Riot

  • King spent a week in jail where he wrote the famous essay, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
  • The public was shocked by the police violence they witnessed on TV.
  • President Kennedy said it made him “sick.”
  • Led to desegregation and changes in fair hiring practices in the city.

March on Washington

  • August 1963 - Over 200,000 people gathered in the capital city to support the civil rights bill proposed by JFK.
  • Kennedy was afraid there would be violence.
  • Protesters adopted the slogan “jobs and freedom.”
  • MLK delivered his “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

200,000 marchers gather before the Lincoln Memorial.

The Washington Monument in background

blowing in the wind
How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

How many seas must the white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banned?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?

How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many times can a man look up before he can see the sky?

How many ears does one man have before he can hear people cry?

And how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?

“Blowing in the Wind”

March on Washington, August 1963

Martin Luther King – “I have a dream.”


Video: March on Washington, MLK’s “I have a dream” speech

Some historians consider this the greatest speech ever given in American history.



Selma March

  • 1965 - Blacks in Selma, Alabama were arrested for trying to register to vote.
  • John Lewis organized a 50-mile march from Selma to the capital, Montgomery.
  • Sunday, March 7 - Started with 545 marchers
  • Armed state troopers on horseback rode into the crowd with whips, clubs and tear gas
  • “Bloody Sunday”

“Bloody Sunday “

Marchers attacked by the Alabama National Guardsmen.

John Lewis clubbed in the head


Selma March

  • President Johnson immediately put the Alabama National Guard under federal control and sent federal troops and marshals to protect the protesters on the rest of their march.
  • MLK arrived to encourage the protestors and march with them.
  • Marchers began again.
  • By the time they reached Montgomery, 25,000 marchers had gathered.




George Wallace

  • Democratic Governor of Alabama from 1963 – 1968.
  • June 1963, he attempted to block the entrance of two Black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood to the University of Alabama.
  • President Kennedy nationalized the Alabama National Guard and they forced Wallace to step aside.
  • He ran for President in 1968 and 1972.
  • He was shot and paralyzed by an assassin in 1972.

Wallace’s 1963 Inaugural speech as Alabama Governor

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.


Governor George Wallace blocks the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent the entrance of Black students in 1963.


John F. Kennedy

  • President 1961 – 1963
  • He promised to end housing discrimination “with the stroke of a pen” (Executive Order).
  • But as President, he was cautious about civil rights protests, preferring that progress be made peacefully through the court system instead.
  • Submitted a Civil Rights bill to Congress in June 1963 but was assassinated in November.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

  • LBJ became President in Nov. 1963 when JFK was assassinated.
  • He pushed through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.







Nation of Islam

  • African American Muslims, also called “Black Muslims”
  • Founded by Elijah Muhammad in 1930
  • Had 500,000 members by 1964
  • Taught that Africans were the original people but the Bible had prophesied that they would be in captivity “in a strange land” for 400 years.
  • Believed that white society was the enemy
  • They promoted “black nationalism” (a separate nation of Africans within America).

Malcolm X

  • Malcolm Little – b. 1925
  • Son of a Baptist preacher who had been a follower of Marcus Garvey’s “back to Africa” movement in the 1920s.
  • Grew up in ghettos of Detroit, Boston and New York
  • Joined the Nation of Islam while in jail for burglary from 1945 to 1952

Malcolm X

  • 1952 – He replaced his surname “Little” with an X, because all black surnames were imposed by white masters in place of their original African names .
  • He soon became First Lieutenant in the Nation of Islam (2nd to Elijah Muhammad)
  • Rejected passive resistance
  • “No sane black man really wants integration.”

Malcolm X

“But once we all realize that we have this common enemy, then we unite on the basis of what we have in common. And what we have foremost in common is that enemy —— the white man.”

Oct. 1963


Malcolm X

Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That’s a good religion.

Oct. 1963


Malcolm X

  • 1964 – traveled on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam
  • Came home with changed ideas about his hatred of whites
  • He returned with a new vision of blacks and whites working together for civil rights.
  • Left the Nation of Islam

Malcolm X

February 1965 - Assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam


Black Panthers

  • Founded in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton who met at Oakland City College in California.
  • Their philosophy was militantpride – “Black Power” and “Black is beautiful.”
  • Their strategy was to encourage Blacks to carry guns and protect blacks from police brutality in inner city neighborhoods.

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton

Black Panther Party founders


Black Panthers

  • 1968 – Huey Newton killed a policeman in a New York City march and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
  • His conviction sparked protests throughout country.
  • His conviction was later overturned.






24th Amendment


abolished the poll tax


Civil Rights Act

  • Signed by LBJ in 1964
  • It gave federal govt. the power to enforce desegregation laws and voting rights. (denial of states’ rights)
  • It required the same voter registration standards in all states.
  • It prohibited discrimination in public facilities such as theaters, motels, and restaurants.

Civil Rights Act

  • It banned discrimination by employers on the basis of race, religion, or gender.
  • It created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate charges of discrimination.
  • It allowed the federal government to withhold funds from institutions (such as schools) that violate civil rights laws.

Voting Rights Act

  • 1965
  • LBJ promised this act in response to the Selma March.
  • Federal officials would register voters in places where local officials were blocking the registration of Blacks.
  • It abolished literacy tests.
  • In 1966, 400,000 African Americans registered to vote in the South.

Thurgood Marshall

First African American Supreme Court Justice

Appointed by LBJ

in 1967



Civil rights



term for people whose family origins are in Spanish-speaking Latin America


What is the largest

group of Latinos

in the U.S.




A term used in the 1960s and 70s for Mexican-Americans


Why did large numbers

of Mexicans migrate

North to America during

and after World War II



The Bracero Program

  • During World War II there was a shortage of farm workers in American and widespread poverty in Mexico.
  • A U.S. and Mexican governments agreed to bring 1000’s of peasant farmers in from Mexico to work on farms for a limited time in the Southwest (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona California).
  • Program lasted from 1942 to 1964.

Migrant Workers

  • Workers who “migrate” or travel from farm to farm, and often state to state
  • Provide the labor required to grow and harvest many of our nation’s crops
  • Extremely low pay
  • Little or no education opportunity for their children

Cesar Chavez

  • 1927 - Born in Arizona
  • 1937 – His family lost their farm during the Dust Bowl.
  • They became migrant workers in California.
  • He attended 30 different schools.
  • He grew up determined to improve working conditions for farm workers.

Cesar Chavez

  • In the 1960’s Cesar began to organize Mexican field hands to form a union.
  • 1965 – Formed the United Farm Workers (UFW)
  • UFW soon had 1,700 members.
  • The used nonviolent methods, such as protests and boycotts.





What two things had

Native Americans

lost in the 1800s

that they wanted back




Native American tribes wanted protection of tribal lands to preserve hunting, fishing, homes and sacred burial sites.



  • Native American wanted their individual tribes restored and self-government by tribal leaders as it had been before assignment to reservations controlled by federal and state governments.


  • American Indian Movement
  • Began in cities, encouraging racial and cultural pride in young Native American people.


  • Later, AIM joined in more militant protests for the return of land to tribes across the nation and for better treatment of those living on reservations.
  • Over time, Native Americans regained some land along with mineral and water rights.

Occupation of

Wounded Knee

  • 1973 - AIM leaders descended upon Wounded Knee, South Dakota to protest the poverty and poor living conditions on the reservation.
  • The protesters refused to leave until the government took action to better living conditions and review over 300 Indian treaties.

Occupation of

Wounded Knee

  • Federal marshals and FBI agents besieged the city until it surrendered.
  • In exchange, the government launched investigations of treaties and living conditions on the reservation.

Indian Education Act

1972 - gave parents and tribal councils more control over schools and school programs rather than the federal and state governments.