18.2 Challenging Segregation. I. The Role of Students. The youth of the generation, mostly college students, played a prominent role in the civil rights movement
Members of the Atlanta SNCC branch.
A. John F. Kennedy won the election of 1960
1. Lyndon Johnson, a white southerner, was his VP
Kennedy defeated Nixon by the narrowest margin of popular votes (112,754) in any presidential election.
1. He enforced the integration of bus terminals after the Freedom Riders were attacked
Freedom Riders were attacked by a group of white militants when they arrived in Birmingham, Alabama.
One of the buses was firebombed in Anniston, Alabama.
2. He sent federal marshals to escort James Meredith to the University of Mississippi (Sept. 1962)
Lt. Gov Paul Johnson blocks James Meredith from attempting to enter University of Mississippi in September 1962. Kennedy sent 500 federal marshals to escort Meredith to the campus.
3. He ordered his aides to prepare a civil rights bill after protestors in Birmingham, Alabama were attacked by police dogs & sprayed with fire hoses (April 1963)
Bull Connor, Birmingham’s Chief of Public Safety, ordered the use of fire hoses and police dogs against peaceful demonstrators, many who were kids.
It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated.
This is not the case. The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day; one third as much chance of completing college; one third as much chance of becoming a professional man; twice as much chance of becoming unemployed; about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year; a life expectancy which is seven years shorter; and the prospects of earning only half as much.
We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it. And we cherish our freedom here at home. But are we to say to the world - and much more importantly to each other - that this is the land of the free, except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens, except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettos, no master race, except with respect to Negroes.
I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation fiving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public… This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an arbitrary indignity that no American in 1963 shall have to endure, but many do.
-President Kennedy, Civil Rights Address, June 11, 1963
1. This is when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Four members of the KKK placed a bomb under the stairwell at the church which exploded as members were preparing for service. The church was targeted because it was the headquarters of the Birmingham movement where MLK launched protests against segregation.
1. Ended segregation in public places
2. Called for equal employment opportunities for all
3. Attorney General could issue lawsuits on schools that didn’t desegregate
Civil Rights Act 1964
1. Expand voter registration
2. Organize a political party called the “Freedom Democratic Party”
3. Start “freedom schools”
4. Open community centers
B. African Americans held a protest in Selma, Alabama for voting rights (1965)
1. While attempting to march protestors were beaten by the police
C. Led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
1. Enforced their right to vote under the 15th Amendment
2. Prohibited the use of literacy tests
3. Federal examiners would assist with enrolling African Americans
Number of Black Southern Legislators, 1868-1900 and 1960-1992