Civil Rights in America. 1865-1990s. Reconstruction (1865-1877). The American historian may view this period after the Civil War as our nation’s first civil rights movement following the foundation of the country and the rights laid out in the national Constitution.
Civil Rights in America 1865-1990s
Reconstruction (1865-1877) • The American historian may view this period after the Civil War as our nation’s first civil rights movement following the foundation of the country and the rights laid out in the national Constitution. • In addition to simply restoring southern states to the union and rebuilding damages from the war, the leaders of this period sought to integrate white and black society within a system of social and political equality.
Aftermath of War • Human toll of the Civil War: The North lost 364,000 soldiers. The South lost 260,000 soldiers. • Between 1865 and 1877, the federal government carried out a program to repair the damage to the South and restore the southern states to the Union. This program was known as Reconstruction. • Black Southerners were starting out their new lives in a poor region with slow economic activity. • Plantation owners lost slave labor worth $3 billion. • The war had destroyed two thirds of the South’s shipping industry and about 9,000 miles of railroad.
Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan • Offered pardons to Southerners who swore allegiance. • Each state could create a new constitution (without Lincoln’s 10 percent allegiance requirement). • States had to void secession, abolish slavery, and repudiate the Confederate debt. • States could then hold elections and rejoin the Union. • Although it officially denied pardons to all Confederate leaders, Johnson often issued pardons to those who asked him personally.
Congressional Republicans • A group called the “Radical” Republicans in Congress felt that the Civil War had been fought over the moral issue of slavery. The Radicals insisted that the main goal of Reconstruction should be a restructuring of society to guarantee black people true equality.
Taste of Freedom • Freedom of movement • Freedom to own land: Proposals to give white-owned land to freed people got little support from the government. Unofficial land redistribution did take place, however. • Freedom of assembly: African Americans formed their own churches and started mutual aid societies, debating clubs, drama societies, and trade associations. • Freedom to learn: Between 1865 and 1870, black educators founded 30 African American colleges.
Freedmen’s Bureau • Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau to help black Southerners adjust to freedom. This was the first major relief agency in United States history.
Southern Whites’ Response • As southern states were restored to the Union, they began to enact black codes, laws that restricted freedmen’s rights. The black codes established virtual slavery with provisions such as these: • Curfews: Generally, black people could not gather after sunset. • Vagrancy laws: Freedmen convicted of vagrancy– that is, not working– could be fined, whipped, or sold for a year’s labor. • Labor contracts: Freedmen had to sign agreements in January for a year of work. Those who quit in the middle of a contract often lost all the wages they had earned. • Land restrictions: Freed people could rent land or homes only in rural areas. This restriction forced them to live on plantations.
Civil Rights Act of 1866 Republicans in Congress blamed President Johnson for the southern Democrats’ return to Congress. To put an end to Johnson’s Reconstruction, the Congress tried to bypass the President by making amendments to the Constitution. In early 1866 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which outlawed the black codes. Johnson vetoed the measure, but Congress overrode the President’s veto. Congress decided to build equal rights into the Constitution as well. In June 1866, Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges… of citizens of the United States… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The 1st Civil Rights Era
Reconstruction Act of 1867 • Calling for “reform not revenge,” Radicals in Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867. These were its key provisions: 1. Southern states would be under military rule by northern generals. 2. Southern states would have to create new state constitutions. 3. States would be required to give the vote to all qualified male voters (including African Americans). 4. Supporters of the Confederacy were temporarily barred from voting. 5. Southern states were required to guarantee equal rights to all citizens. 6. All states were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. • Military rule ended in 1868 for all but 3 states.
The Ku Klux Klan Formed in 1866, in TN, the Klan sought to eliminate the Republican Party in the South by intimidating voters. They wanted to keep African Americans as submissive laborers. They planted burning crosses on the lawns of their victims and tortured, kidnapped, or murdered black and other Republican voters. The Federal Response In 1870 and 1871, Congress passed a series of anti-Klan laws. The Enforcement Act of 1870 banned the use of terror, force, or bribery to prevent people from voting. Other laws banned the KKK and used the military to protect voters and voting places. As federal troops withdrew from the South, however, black suffrage all but ended. Spreading Terror
Demise of Civil Rights Republicans • Violence: As federal troops withdrew from the South, some white Democrats used violence and intimidation to prevent freedmen from voting. This tactic allowed white Southerners to regain control of the state governments. • The Democrats’ return to power: The pardoned ex-Confederates combined with other white Southerners to form a new bloc of Democratic voters known as the Solid South. They blocked Reconstruction policies.
1876 Election • The presidential election of 1876 was disputed. Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote, but the electoral vote was contested over whether or not to count the electoral votes in the three remaining military districts. • Democrats submitted a set of tallies showing Samuel Tilden, who had the support of the Solid South, as the winner. • Finally, the two parties made a deal. In what became known as the Compromise of 1877, the Democrats agreed to give Hayes the victory. In return, the new President agreed to support appropriations for rebuilding the levees along the Mississippi River and to remove the remaining federal troops from southern states. • The compromise opened the way for Democrats to regain control of southern politics and marked the end of Reconstruction--i.e., the end of the 1st Civil Rights movement.
Successes Failures Union is restored. Many white southerners remain bitter toward the federal government and the Republican Party. The South’s economy grows and new wealth is created in the North. The South is slow to industrialize. Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments guarantee African Americans the rights of citizenship, equal protection under the law, and suffrage. After federal troops are withdrawn, southern state governments and terrorist organizations effectively deny African Americans the right to vote. Freedmen’s Bureau and other organizations help many black families obtain housing, jobs, and schooling. Many black and white southerners remain caught in a cycle of poverty. Racist attitudes toward African Americans continue, in both the South and the North. Southern states adopt a system of mandatory education.
1860sReconstruction begins. 1900s-1940s Jim Crow laws prevent African Americans from voting 1950s-1960sCivil Rights movement begins. 1870sReconstruction ends. A Century Between Civil Rights Movements
Voting Restrictions on African-Americans, 1889-1910 • Southern states used three methods to prevent blacks from using suffrage: • Literacy tests • Property requirements • Poll taxes • Poor and uneducated whites were generally protected from these laws by “grandfather clauses”—i.e., if your family in the last two generations before you could vote, then you can too, even if you don’t meet the new requirements. • The U.S. Supreme Court validated these practices in US v. Reese (1876) when it declared that voting is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, and while it cannot be denied on the basis of race (15th Amendment), states can determine other such qualifications as property and education.
Segregated Society • During this period, many states also instituted a system of legal (de jure) segregation. Segregation means separation of people by race. When this separation is a result of custom, not law, it is called de facto segregation. • In the South, segregation was required by statutes called Jim Crow laws. • One of the greatest setbacks to African American equality was the Supreme Court’s establishment of the “separate-but-equal” doctrine in the 1896 case, Plessy v. Ferguson, which essentially declared segregation a constitutional practice.
Segregated Society • Violence or the threat of violence was a way that whites kept African Americans “in their place.” The worst form of violence was lynching, or the murder of an accused person by a mob without a lawful trial. • Many African Americans moved to the North to escape violence and legal segregation. During the period 1890-1920, southern states lost between 1-11% of their African-American populations. However, even in the North they found de facto segregation in housing, education, and employment. These conditions, along with “white flight” to suburbs, led to the growth of modern conditions of black poverty in urban ghettos.
Resisting Discrimination • As conditions deteriorated for African Americans, black leaders began to seek new solutions. They often had very different perspectives on how to overcome segregation in America: • Bishop Henry Turner advocated black pride and emigration to Africa. • Booker T. Washington supported legal cases against segregation and gave financial support to civil rights and black businesses. As a general principle, however, he felt that blacks should gain the skills necessary to be successful in the limited roles that whites allowed them. He felt that if blacks proved their worth in these jobs, then whites would eventually allow them to take on more equal positions in society.
Resisting Discrimination • W.E.B. Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement. Participants in this movement insisted on equality and vowed never to accept inferiority nor bow to oppression. In 1909, he helped found the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) which worked to abolish segregation and discrimination, to oppose racism, and to gain civil rights for African Americans. • Ida B. Wells refused to leave a segregated railroad car and filed a lawsuit against the railroad company. She initially won the lawsuit, but it was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She began an editorial campaign and speaking tour against lynching.
Racial Tensions in the 1920s Violence Against African Americans • Mob violence between white and black Americans erupted in about 25 cities during the summer of 1919. • The worst of these race riots occurred in Chicago, where the African American population had doubled since 1910. A white man threw a rock at a black teenager swimming in Lake Michigan, and the boy drowned. The incident touched off riots that lasted several days, destroyed many homes, killed several people and wounded many more.
Racial Tensions in the 1920s Revival of the Klan • Although it had been largely eliminated during Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan regained power during the 1920s and greatly increased its membership outside the South. By 1915, KKK membership had reached over 1 million. • The Klan’s focus shifted to include terrorizing not just African Americans but also Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and others. • After the arrest of a major Klan leader in 1925, Klan membership diminished once again.
Overlooked by the Progressives • During the 1920s, the NAACP fought for anti-lynching laws and worked to promote the voting rights of African Americans. These efforts, however, met with limited success. • A movement led by Marcus Garvey, an immigrant from Jamaica, became popular with many African Americans. Garvey, who created the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), sought to build up African Americans’ self-respect and economic power, encouraging them to buy shares in his Negro Factories Corporation. • Garvey also encouraged his followers to return to Africa and create a self-governing nation there. Although corruption and mismanagement resulted in the collapse of the UNIA, Garvey’s ideas of racial pride and independence would affect future “black pride” movements.
Rising African-American Influence: New Deal & WWII • During the Depression, Roosevelt and others courted black votes to support New Deal initiatives. • Under Roosevelt, the number of African Americans working for the federal government rose significantly. • A shortage of labor during World War II led many more African Americans to the North. Executive Order 8802 prohibited discriminatory hiring in defense plants. • As Americans fought a war against discrimination in Europe, many began to think about the discrimination taking place at home. • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) worked hard in the courts to challenge segregation laws.
Brown v. Board of Education • In 1951, Oliver Brown wanted his 8-year-old daughter to attend a Topeka, Kansas school, which only white children were permitted to attend. • Brown sued the Topeka Board of Education, and his case reached the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP argued Brown’s case. • On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case. In this ruling, the court supported Brown’s case for desegregation, stating that, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The ruling overturned the Plessy decision. • A year later, the Court ruled that local school boards should move to desegregate “with all deliberate speed.”
Opposition to Integration In the fall of 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus felt that enforcing integration, or the bringing together of different races, would create chaos. Faubus therefore posted Arkansas National Guard troops at Central High School in Little Rock, instructing them to turn away the nine African American students who were supposed to attend that school. Mobs of angry protesters joined the National Guard in intimidating the African American students. Government Response Faubus’s actions defied the Brown decision. President Eisenhower viewed these actions as a challenge to the Constitution and to his authority as President. Eisenhower placed the National Guard under federal command and sent soldiers to Arkansas to protect the nine students. Resistance in Little Rock
Montgomery Bus Boycott • Background of the Boycott—In December 1955, an African American seamstress named Rosa Parks was seized by the police in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. • Organization of the Boycott—In response, civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., organized a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. • The Bus Boycott—Over the next year, 50,000 African Americans boycotted the city bus system, choosing to walk, ride bicycles, or carpool instead. • Results of the Bus Boycott—Despite losing money, the bus company refused to change its policies. Finally, in 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional.
Civil Rights Organizations • Although the civil rights movement had no one central organization, several groups formed to share information and coordinate activities. One of these was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). • Founded in 1911, the National Urban League helped African Americans who were moving to northern cities. • The League helped African Americans find homes and jobs in the cities, and insisted that employers help them learn skills which could lead to better jobs.
Other Civil Rights Organizations • In 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded to help bring about change peacefully. • Like the NAACP, CORE was an interracial organization which argued against discrimination and segregation. • CORE came to have a major role in civil rights confrontations of the 1950s and 1960s.
Other Civil Rights Organizations • A new civil rights group run by young activists, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), began in 1960 at a meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. • SNCC soon became an independent civil rights organization. Its members sought immediate change, as opposed to the gradual change advocated by most older organizations. • One of SNCC’s most influential leaders was Robert Moses, a Harvard graduate student and mathematics teacher. Moses led with a quiet, humble style which earned him the admiration of his followers.
Sit-ins • CORE created the sit-in in 1943 as a tactic to desegregate the Jack Spratt Coffee House in Chicago. The sit-in became a common, and powerful, tactic of the civil rights movement. • During a sit-in, protesters sat down in a segregated public place, such as a lunch counter, refusing to leave until they were served. • Sit-ins brought strong reactions in some places. People opposed to desegregation would sometimes mock, beat, or pour food on the protesters. Many sit-in participants were arrested and sent to jail.
Nonviolent Protest • Rising civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., encouraged a philosophy of nonviolence among civil rights activists. • In 1957, King and other African American clergymen founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). SCLC would become a significant civil rights organization in the years ahead. • SCLC advocated nonviolent protest, a peaceful way of protesting against restrictive racial policies. Nonviolent protesters were encouraged not to fight back even when attacked. • The formation of SCLC shifted the focus of the civil rights movement to the South and brought African American church leaders such as King to its forefront.
King’s Influences • Martin Luther King, Jr., was influenced by the beliefs and work of Mohandas Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, both of whom advocated nonviolence. • Gandhi had helped India gain its independence in 1947. • Thoreau had advocated civil disobedience in the mid-1800s. • King expressed these views in his Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963.
King’s Actions • After the Montgomery bus boycott, King began training volunteers for what they might expect in the months ahead. • Those who rode the newly integrated buses were encouraged to follow the principles of nonviolence. • King became a prominent figure in almost every major civil rights event, winning the Nobel peace prize in 1964 for his work.
The 1960 Supreme Court case Boynton v. Virginia expanded the earlier ban on bus segregation to include bus stations and restaurants that served interstate travelers. In 1961, CORE and SNCC organized the Freedom Rides to test southern compliance with this ruling. Although the freedom riders expected confrontation, the violence which greeted a bus in Anniston, Alabama, was more than they had anticipated. A heavily armed white mob disabled the bus and then set it on fire. As riders escaped from the bus, they were beaten by the mob. Freedom Rides
Reactions to Freedom Rides • Americans were horrified by the violence which had greeted the bus in Anniston. • Despite the potential danger involved, Freedom Rides continued during the summer. Many riders were arrested. • Attorney General Robert Kennedy had originally been opposed to lending federal support to the Freedom Rides. However, he later sent federal marshals to protect the riders. • Kennedy also pressured the Interstate Commerce Commission to prohibit segregation in all interstate transportation. The Justice Department began to sue communities that did not comply.
Integration at “Ole Miss” • In 1961, James Meredith, an African American student at Jackson State College, applied for admission to the all-white University of Mississippi, known as “Ole Miss.” • When Meredith was rejected, he sought help from the NAACP. The NAACP argued that Meredith’s application had been rejected on racial grounds. When the case reached the Supreme Court, Meredith’s claim was upheld. • Meredith continued to face problems as he enrolled at Ole Miss. Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett personally blocked Meredith’s way to the admissions office, and violence erupted on campus. • The situation became a standoff between the governor and the Justice Department. President Kennedy sent federal marshals to escort Meredith around campus.
Marches in Birmingham In April 1963, Martin Luther King joined the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in a civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. City officials ordered civil rights protesters to end the march that was part of this campaign. When they did not, King and others were arrested. While in Birmingham Jail, King wrote a famous letter defending his tactics and his timing. Response to the Marches King was released more than a week later and continued the campaign, making the difficult decision to allow young people to participate. Police attacked the marchers with high-pressure fire hoses, police dogs, and clubs. As television cameras captured the violence, Americans around the country were horrified. Clash in Birmingham
Kennedy on Civil Rights • During the 1960 presidential campaign, Kennedy won the support of many African American voters. • Kennedy had voted for civil rights measures in the Senate but had not actively supported them. As President, he moved slowly on civil rights issues, not wanting to anger southern Democrats. • Hours after Kennedy had given a speech against discrimination, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered. This murder made it clear that government action was needed. • After violence erupted in Birmingham in 1963, Kennedy introduced a stronger civil rights bill than he had originally planned. This bill called for an end to segregation in public places and in situations where federal funding was involved.
March on Washington • To focus national attention on Kennedy’s bill, civil rights leaders proposed a march in Washington, D.C. The March on Washington was held in August 1963. • More than 200,000 people came to the peaceful and orderly march, including musicians, religious leaders, and celebrities. • At the march, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered what was to become his best-known speech, “I Have a Dream.” • Despite the success of the march, Kennedy’s civil rights bill remained stalled in Congress.
Johnson’s Role After Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson worked to build support for Kennedy’s civil rights bill. The house passed the bill, but civil rights opponents in the Senate stalled it with a filibuster. This technique involved preventing a vote on a measure by taking the floor and refusing to stop talking. The Act Is Passed Johnson countered the filibuster with a procedure called cloture, a three-fifths vote to limit debate and call for a vote. In June 1964, the Senate voted for cloture. Soon afterwards, the bill passed, becoming the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Civil Rights Act of 1964
LBJ Becomes President • Lyndon Johnson became President unexpectedly following Kennedy’s assassination. However, his political career had been leading up to this position for many years. • While serving in the House and Senate, Johnson had established a reputation for both his political talent and his ambition. In 1954, he became Senate Majority Leader. • Kennedy had named Johnson his running mate in 1960 after Johnson’s own bid for the Democratic nomination had failed. Johnson became President immediately after Kennedy’s death, taking the oath of office an hour and a half later.
Title I: Banned different voter registrations standards for blacks & whites Title II & III: prohibits discrimination in the access and use of public places Title V: Extends tenure of Civil Rights Commission until 1968 Title VI: banned discrimination in any program that receives federal funds Title VII: banned race, sex, religion, national origin discrimination by employers or unions with more than 25 employees/members & created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Fighting for the Vote • In 1964, leaders of the major civil rights groups organized a voter registration drive in Mississippi. • About 1,000 African American and white volunteers participated in what came to be called Freedom Summer. • Violence plagued Freedom Summer as volunteers were beaten, shot at, arrested, and murdered. African American churches and homes were burned and firebombed. • Members of SNCC along with newly registered Mississippi voters organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). • The MFDP sent delegates to the 1964 Democratic national convention, insisting that they were the rightful representatives from Mississippi.
The Selma March • To call attention to the issue of voting rights, King and other leaders decided to organize marchers to walk from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, about 50 miles away. • Violence erupted at the start of the march. President Johnson sent military assistance to protect the marchers. • When the march resumed, more people joined it, making a total of about 25,000 marchers.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 & 24th Amendment • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed federal officials to register voters in places where local officials were preventing African Americans from registering. It also effectively eliminated literacy tests and other barriers to voting. • The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1964, outlawed the poll tax, which was still in effect in several southern states.
Johnson’s Great Society Programs • Johnson used his talent in working with Congress to initiate many reforms on domestic issues. • Johnson’s programs on poverty aid, education, healthcare, economic development, and conservation became collectively known as the Great Society. • In the 1964 election, Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican opponent Barry Goldwater.
Great Society & War on Poverty • The Tax Cut— Like Kennedy, Johnson believed that a budget deficit could be used to improve the economy. A tax cut caused the deficit to shrink, since renewed prosperity generated new tax revenues. • The War on Poverty— Johnson initiated new programs such as Head Start, a preschool program for low-income families, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), which sent volunteers to help people in poor communities. • Aid to Education— The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also initiated by Johnson, provided billions of dollars in aid to public and private schools. • Medicare and Medicaid— Johnson helped Congress pass two new programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provides low-cost medical insurance to most Americans over age 65, while Medicaid provides similar services to poor Americans of any age. • Immigration Reform— The Immigration Act of 1965 replaced immigration quotas with overall limits from various parts of the world. Immigration rose during the 1960s and 1970s.
Evolution of the Welfare State • Social Security (1935) • Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) (1935) • Aid to Families with … (AFDC) (1950) • Food Stamps (1964) • Medicare (1965) • Medicaid (1965) • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (1965) • Women, Infants, Children (WIC) (1972)
Effects on Poverty • During the 1960s and early 1970s, the number of Americans living in poverty in the United States was cut in half. • However, some Americans complained that too many of their tax dollars were being spent on poor people. Others criticized the way Great Society antipoverty programs expanded the size of the federal government. • Johnson received both praise and criticism for his programs.