Much of our memory of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s is embodied in dramatic photographs, newsreels, and recorded speeches, which America encountered in daily papers and the nightly news.As the movement rolled across the nation, Americans absorbed images of hopeful, disciplined, and dedicated young people shaping their destinies. Janken Professor, Department of African and Afro-American Studies and Director of Experiential Education, Office of Undergraduate Curricula University of North Carolina National Humanities Center Fellow ©National Humanities Center Overview When most Americans think of the Civil Rights Movement, they have in mind a span of time beginning with the 1954 Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v.
In the 1940s, the United Auto Workers, with NAACP encouragement, made overtures to black workers.
The NAACP’s successful fight against the Democratic white primary in the South was more than a bid for inclusion; it was a stiff challenge to what was in fact a regional one-party dictatorship.
Recognizing the interdependence of domestic and foreign affairs, the NAACP’s program in the 1920s and 1930s promoted solidarity with Haitians who were trying to end the American military occupation and with colonized blacks elsewhere in the Caribbean and in Africa.
African Americans’ support for WWII and the battle against the Master Race ideology abroad was matched by equal determination to eradicate it in America, too.
They were met with hostility, federal ambivalence and indifference, as well as mob and police violence.
Civil Right Movement Essays
African Americans fought back with direct action protests and keen political organizing, such as voter registration drives and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.Southern senators filibustered, but they could not prevent the formation of a national consensus against lynching; by 1938 the number of lynchings declined steeply.Other organizations, such as the left-wing National Negro Congress, fought lynching, too, but the NAACP emerged from the campaign as the most influential civil rights organization in national politics and maintained that position through the mid-1950s.He desired equal access to education, but he also was concerned with the type of society blacks were trying to integrate.He was among those who surveyed American society and saw racial inequality and the ruling powers that promoted racism to divide black workers from white workers.The crowning achievements were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.The images are alternately angering and inspiring, powerful, iconic even.In the post-war years blacks supported the decolonization of Africa and Asia.Gradualism was a smart legal strategy, but Charles Houston also knew that it was a mistake to trim political demands to suit the nation’s leaders’ ideas of propriety.However, by themselves they cannot tell the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The drama of the mid-twentieth century emerged on a foundation of earlier struggles.Two are particularly notable: the NAACP’s campaign against lynching, and the NAACP’s legal campaign against segregated education, which culminated in the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision.