Teaching the Civil Rights Movement. Which of the following statements offers the best interpretations of the civil rights movement?
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I pick up my life, And take it with me, And I put it down in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Scranton, Any place that is North and East,
And not Dixie.
I pick up my life And take it on the train, To Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake Any place that is North and West, And not South.
(Jacob Lawrence)More Voices
(section “Art and Poetry) for complete
the poem, images, and other resources.
the curriculum was about activism.
March 1941, Randolph proposed a new civil rights strategy: a massive march on Washington D. C.
The immediate end to segregation and discrimination in federal government hiring.
An end to segregation of the armed forces.
Government support for an end to discrimination and segregation in all American employment.
“When this war ends, the people want something more than the dispersal of equality and power among individual citizens in a liberal, political democratic system.
They demand with striking comparability the dispersal of equality and power among the citizen-workers in an economic democracy that will make certain the assurance of the good life - the more abundant life - in a warless world...Thus our feet are set in the path toward [the long-range goal of] equality - economic, political and social and racial.
Equality is the heart and essence of democracy, freedom and justice. Without equality of opportunity in industry, in labor unions, schools and colleges, government, politics and before the law, without equality in social relations and in all phases of human endeavor, the Negro is certain to be consigned to an inferior status.
There must be no dual standards of justice, no dual rights, privileges, duties or responsibilities of citizenship. No dual forms of freedom...But our nearer goals include the abolition of discrimination, segregation, and jim-crow in the Government, the Army, Navy, Air Corps, U.S. Marine, Coast Guard, Women's Auxiliary Army Corps and the Waves, and defense industries; the elimination of discrimination in hotels, restaurants, on public transportation conveyances, in educational, recreational, cultural, and amusement and entertainment places such as theaters, beaches and so forth.
We want the full works of citizenship with no reservations. We will accept nothing less.” Randolph
Led student walk-out April 23, 1951
Virginia pioneers “massive resistance” strategy, 1956
With the powerful political machine of Senator Byrd VA put together the most effective resistance strategy
GA made it a felony for a state or local official to spend funds on desegregated schools
Miss and LA made it illegal for children to attend racially mixed schools
The “massive resistance” strategy of VA authorized the closing of any public schhol ordered to desegregate and approved state-supported tuition grants for white “private” schools.
In late 1958 and early 1959 officials closed schools in Norfolk, Charlottesville and
Whatever may be the difference in approach to their goal, the Negro and white students, North and South, are seeking to rid America of the scourge of racial segregation and discrimination - not only at lunch counters, but in every aspect of life….
By and large, this feeling that they have a destined date with freedom, was not limited to a drive for personal freedom, or even freedom for the Negro in the South. Repeatedly it was emphasized that the movement was concerned with the moral implications of racial discrimination for the "whole world" and the "Human Race."
This universality of approach was linked with a perceptive recognition that "it is important to keep the movement democratic and to avoid struggles for personal leadership."
It was further evident that desire for supportive cooperation from adult leaders and the adult community was also tempered by apprehension that adults might try to "capture" the student movement. The students showed willingness to be met on the basis of equality, but were intolerant of anything that smacked of manipulation or domination.
This inclination toward group-centered leadership, rather than toward a leader-centered group pattern of organization, was refreshing indeed to those of the older group who bear the scars of the battle, the frustrations and the disillusionment that come when the prophetic leader turns out to have heavy feet of clay….Ella J. Baker (June, 1960) “Bigger than a Hamburger”
Choosing to participate-Choosing to stand up
The Freedom rides a CORE project with strong support from SNCC when buses forced to stop in Alabama
The Freedom Riders left Washington DC on May 4, 1961. They were scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17, the seventh anniversary of the Brown decision. The Freedom Riders never made it to New Orleans.
Significance: They forced the Kennedy administration to take a stand on civil rights, which was the intent of the Freedom Ride in the first place. In addition, the Interstate Commerce Commission, at the request of Robert Kennedy, outlawed segregation in interstate bus travel in a ruling, more specific than the original Supreme Court mandate, that took effect in September 1961.
December 1961, the Birmingham City Commission closes the city’s 67 parks, 38 playgrounds, and 4 golf courses rather than integrate.
Step 1. April 3, 1963, King’s “Birmingham Manifesto’ and sixty-five blacks staged sit-ins in five stores --Police Commissioner Bull Conner dragged twenty of them away to jail.
April 10 demonstrators paraded before city hall and picketed the stores --Connor piled 300 into jail.
Step 2. April 13th “Good Friday” - Protestors march to City Hall for “Kneel in”
King jailed. More demonstrations follow.
April 16, 1963, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”
MLK “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” …comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience
Step 3. May 2, 1963 (D-Day) Large demonstration of more than student protesters began a march from 16th street Baptist Church. They were arrested. The mass protest continued.
On Sept. 15, 1963, the all-Black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed. Sunday school was in session.
"No, baby, no, you may not go, For the dogs are fierce and wild, And clubs and hoses, guns and jails Aren't good for a little child."
"But, mother, I won't be alone. Other children will go with me, And march the streets of Birmingham To make our country free."
"No, baby, no, you may not go, For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead And sing in the children's choir."
She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair, And bathed rose petal sweet, And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands, And white shoes on her feet.
The mother smiled to know that her child Was in the sacred place, But that smile was the last smile To come upon her face.
For when she heard the explosion, Her eyes grew wet and wild. She raced through the streets of Birmingham Calling for her child.
She clawed through bits of glass and brick, Then lifted out a shoe. "O, here's the shoe my baby wore, But, baby, where are you?"Ballad of Birmingham
1. Signaled a profound change in the direct-action campaigns in the South.
As Bayard Rustin put it in 1963:
For the black people of this nation; Birmingham became the moment of truth. The struggle from now on will be fought in a different context... For the first time, every black man, woman and child, regardless of station, has been brought into the struggle. Unlike the period of the Montgomery boycott... the response to Birmingham has been immediate and spontaneous. Before Birmingham, the great struggles had been waged for specific, limited goals. The Freedom Rides sought to establish the right to eat while traveling; the sit-ins sought to win the right to eat in local restaurants; the Meredith case centered on a single Negro's right to enter a state university. The Montgomery boycott, although it involved fifty thousand people in a year-long sacrificial struggle, was limited to attaining the right to ride the city buses with dignity and respect. The black people now reject token, limited or gradual approaches. The package deal is the new demand.
2. Birmingham moved Kennedy to action.
Announced that a new Civil Rights Bill would be presented to Congress on June I9th
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/johnfkennedycivilrights.htm Site includes transcript and audio of JFK’s June 11, 1963 speech.
So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.Martin Luther King, Jr. and the War
“One of the tragedies of the struggle against racism is that up until now there has been no national organization which could speak to the growing militancy of young black people in the urban ghetto. There has been only a civil rights movement, whose tone of voice was adapted to an audience of liberal whites. It served as a sort of buffer zone between them and angry young blacks. None of its so-called leaders could go into a rioting community and be listened to. . .
For too many years, black Americans marched and had their heads broken and got shot. They were saying to the country, ‘Look, you guys are supposed to be nice guys and we are only going to do what we are supposed to do - why do you beat us up, why don’t you give us what we ask, why don’t you straighten yourselves out?’ After years of this, we are at almost the same point - because we demonstrated from a position of weakness. We cannot be expected any longer to march and have our heads broken in order to say to whites: ‘come on, you’re nice guys.’ For you are not nice guys. We have found you out. . . .
Black power can be clearly defined for those who do not attach the fears of white America to their questions about it. We should begin with the basic fact that black Americans have two problems: they are poor and they are black. All other problems arise from this two-sided reality: lack of education, the so-called apathy of black men. Any program to end racism must address itself to that double reality. . . .
For racism to die, a totally different America must be born…..”
Please address all source inquiries to the presenter: Wendi N. Manuel-Scott