Civil Rights

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Civil Rights

Civil Rights

The 14th AmendmentThe 13th amendment freed slaves, but it didn’t clarify their political or civil status. Different groups of government had different ideas for what their status should be. The south instituted “Black Codes” which restricted the political rights of black men and women and was the closest thing to slavery. The debate continued and Congress finally came to a decision. Finally, all freed slaves were considered citizens of the United States if they were born in the country.

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad was a tool used by slaves who seeked freedom and were willing to potentially sacrifice their lives. The Underground Railroad sounds like a set of underground train tracks, however the name was just a disguise for the true meaning of it. The Underground Railroad was a connection of free people who volunteered to house runaway slaves. It was a dangerous journey, but would all be worth it if they got out alive. This was just one of the many steps on the way to equality.

Malcolm XMalcolm X was a civil rights activist who decided to try a new approach to protesting. He wanted to be more aggressive with his speeches and his strategies opposed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent protests. Malcolm grew up as a criminal, and he spent time in jail. Another difference between Malcolm and Dr. King was that Malcolm X had more of a Muslim approach whereas MLK used Christianity. Malcolm was a very controversial man, and later, while he gave a speech, he was shot down by an assassin. His pessimistic views on the civil rights movement changed people’s perspectives on this issue.

The Little Rock NineThe Little Rock Nine were a group of black high school students who went to an all white school. Integration of schools was finally required, but Little Rock Central High School refused to desegregate their school. The brave nine students forced their way through a mob of angry people as they tried to enter the school. Discriminatory and hateful words were shot at them every morning. Finally, President Eisenhower ordered the national guard to escort the students into the school. These courageous kids stood up for what they believed in and are an inspiration to all people who feel strongly about their rights.

Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States of America. He was president during the time of the Civil War and felt very strongly about slavery. He believed that no one should be subjected to slavery, and he spoke about this topic in his speech called the Gettysburg Address. This was considered one of the best speeches made of all time because of its clear and concise ideas. He ended up winning the war against the south and he led all of the slaves to freedom. He is a great inspiration for people today because he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind even when he knew there could be consequences.

Harriet TubmanHarriet Tubman was one of the many contributors to the freedom of slaves. She is most famous for leading about 300 slaves to freedom. She did this by guiding them through the Underground Railroad. She also worked as a cook to earn money for the aid of the fugitives. Her dedication, selflessness, and hard work allowed imprisoned people to live their lives in peace and harmony. Even after the Civil War, Harriet continued to help those that needed it, and she never stopped dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Freedom RidersJames Farmer, founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), planned an integrated bus trip to fight for equality. In most southern states, blacks and whites riding on the same bus was illegal. Bus stations for blacks were also not as comfortable and well made as the ones for whites. To protest the inequality, James Farmer along with six other blacks and six whites joined together to ride across the south. Many feared they would be killed, but they were courageous enough to take on the challenge. In one town, Anniston, Alabama, the Freedom RIders’ bus was attacked by a mob of about 200 people with clubs and chains. They were attacked by a bomb, and even viciously beaten. These brave souls demonstrated a new system of protest: nonviolence. They symbolized the change in America and helped shape it into the way it is today.

Brown V. Board of EducationJustice Brown was the first person to claim that even though races were separated, they were still equal; However, African-Americans did not feel the same way. In Topeka, Kansas, there were 18 elementary schools for whites and only four schools for blacks. The facilities were equal, but the black schools didn’t have as much access to textbooks and other learning schools. Oliver L. Brown wanted to fight against the claim “separate but equal”. This began the Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka (KS) case. Finally, the court ruled that separate is not legal, and segregation in public schools violates the 14th Amendment.

The March on WashingtonThe March on Washington was a successful event that gave freedom to African-Americans. Over 250,000 people showed up in front of the Lincoln Memorial to pass Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and to show the government how strongly they feel about their rights. People traveled from all over the country to participate. Speeches, including the famous “I have a dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, were made to influence people across the country. This non-violent protest inspired people to fight for what they believe in without really fighting. Congress finally passed the two acts and this march was symbolic for the change of the United States of America.

Orval FaubusOrval Faubus was the reason for the discrimination at Little Rock Central High School. He believed that students should be separated by race at public schools, even when a law was passed saying that it was illegal. After nine brave African-Americans decided to apply to Little Rock Central High School, Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to block the students from the main entrance of the school. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the angry mob of people surrounding the students, he ordered Faubus to call of the Arkansas National Guard and instead have the nine students be escorted to class. Even though Orval Faubus was against desegregation, he impacted America in a major way.

Rosa ParksRosa Parks was an inspiring and influential person on our lives today. It all started when she wouldn’t give up her seat on a bus for a white man, and was immediately sent to prison where she spent several hours. She was later found guilty and fined fifteen dollars in total. Her action inspired many protests against segregation. She ended up becoming the symbol of resistance for segregation and many people looked up to her for inspiration. She paved the way to freedom by sacrificing herself for the greater good of her fellow African-Americans. Even today people look back on her courageous actions and remember that the only way to gain a right is to fight for it yourself. She taught the country that standing up for yourself can have an impact on not only yourself, but on the world.

March on WashingtonInspired by Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a nonviolent protest for the freedom of African-Americans and the integration of the Montgomery buses. People were tired of giving up their seat just because of the color of their skin, and they wanted to put it to an end. The people who organized the boycott realized that violence would not solve their problems. They decided to use nonviolence to get what they wanted. Every participating black person didn’t ride the bus until they got their freedom. The only issue was that they had no other source of transportation. They organized car pools, walked, rode bicycles, and hitchhiked. The buses became almost completely empty. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the spokesperson for the boycott, and he was arrested among 90 other people for “encouraging a boycott”. Finally, on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court sided with the protesters and buses were integrated. This boycott inspired many courageous acts to fight for rights.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965Even though African-Americans had the right to vote, only 43% of the black population were registered to vote. When they tried to register, they were faced with discriminatory literacy tests, poll taxes, violence, and more. President Lyndon B. Johnson looked into this issue. He decided it would be fit to make a law to prevent this from happening. People across the country showed their support for this law, and eventually, it was passed. Poll taxes were no longer allowed to be used for suffrage requirement. By 1968, more than 62% of African-Americans were registered to vote.

Martin Luther King JrMartin Luther King Jr was one of the most essential people for ending segregation. He was known for his famous “I have a dream…” speech that inspired people all across America. He brought people of all races, religions, and beliefs into one community to fight for what they stand for. He was a pastor at a local church and he was a leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which is a civil rights group. He was a very compassionate person who didn’t believe in violence. He led nonviolent protests such as marches and sit-ins and taught people that words can make a difference. Martin led a famous march called the March on Washington, where he brought his supporters to the Lincoln Memorial to show the government how large the issue really is. His ideas of peace won him a Nobel Peace Prize, an esteemed award held only for those who deserve it the most. In addition to all these great acts of justice and equality, Martin Luther King Jr was a loving father to his children. His kind and honest personality made him a true American hero. Every January, we honor him with a day devoted to his work for our freedom and equality.

John F. KennedyPresident John F. Kennedy was elected to office in 1960 and had some ambitious ideas. He planned to deal with some of the inequities black people were forced to deal with across the south. He planned on passing three bills. These included a voting rights bill, a bill that would expand the duties of the Civil Rights Commission, and legislation to provide federal funds to desegregate schools. Although Kennedy formed these ideas, he knew that many people would be against them. He needed support across America from Republicans and even Democrats. Because of Kennedy’s dedication and devotion to his beliefs, the bill was eventually passed.


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