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Tracing back the genesis of the foundation of black participation in the american civil war

Board of Educationwhich outlawed segregated education, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott and culminated in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Despite the fact that they were not always united around strategy and tactics and drew members from different classes and backgrounds, the movement nevertheless cohered around the aim of eliminating the system of Jim Crow segregation and the reform of some of the worst aspects of racism in American institutions and life. 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. African Americans fought back with direct action protests and keen political organizing, such as voter registration drives and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

The images are alternately angering and inspiring, powerful, iconic even. However, by themselves they cannot tell the history of the Civil Rights Movement. They need to be contextualized.

  • He is the author of White;
  • In 1960, black Memphis activists helped support black sharecroppers in surrounding counties who were evicted from their homes when they initiated voter registration drives;
  • Plans for the legal campaign that culminated with Brown were sketched in 1929 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The drama of the mid-twentieth century emerged on a foundation of earlier struggles. Two are particularly notable: Parker for his white supremacist and anti-union views and then defeat senators who voted for confirmation, and a skillful effort to lobby Congress and the Roosevelt administration to pass a federal anti-lynching law.

  1. The Biography of Walter White, Mr.
  2. During decades when the majority of African Americans were legally disfranchised, White led the organization that gave them an effective voice, representing them and interpreting their demands and desires as he understood them to those in power. One area it does not explore is how the federal government helped to shape the movement.
  3. Du Bois believed in what is today called multiculturalism. They concluded that they could not wait for change—they had to make it.

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.

Charles Hamilton Houston The campaign for desegregated education was part of a larger struggle to reshape the contours of America—in terms of race, but also in the ways political and economic power is exercised in this country.

Plans for the legal campaign that culminated with Brown were sketched in 1929 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Charles Hamilton Houstonthe black attorney most responsible for developing the legal theory underpinning Brown, focused on segregated education because he believed that it was the concentrated expression of all the inequalities blacks endured.

He desired equal access to education, but he also was concerned with the type of society blacks were trying to integrate.

African American Citizenship

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. Because he believed that racial violence in Depression-era America was so pervasive as to make mass direct action untenable, he emphasized the redress of grievances through the courts. The designers of the Brown strategy developed a potent combination of gradualism in legal matters and advocacy of far-reaching change in other political arenas.

Through the 1930s and much of the 1940s, the NAACP initiated suits that dismantled aspects of the edifice of segregated education, each building on the precedent of the previous one. Concurrently, civil rights organizations backed efforts to radically alter the balance of power between employers and workers in the United States. They paid special attention to forming an alliance with organized labor, whose history of racial exclusion angered blacks.

In the 1930s, the National Negro Congress brought blacks into the newly formed United Steel Workers, and the union paid attention to the particular demands of African Americans. In the post-war years blacks supported the decolonization of Africa and Asia.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

White southern resistance to Brown was formidable and the slow pace of change stimulated impatience especially among younger African Americans as the 1960s began. They concluded that they could not wait for change—they had to make it.

And the Montgomery Bus Boycottwhich lasted the entire year of 1956, had demonstrated that mass direct action could indeed work. The four college students from Greensboro who sat at the Woolworth lunch counter set off a decade of activity and organizing that would kill Jim Crow. The 1963 March on Washington, most often remembered as the event at which Dr. King called for a guaranteed annual income, redistribution of the national wealth to meet human needs, and an end to a war to colonize the Vietnamese.

Malcolm X proposed to internationalize the black American freedom struggle and to link it with liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Thus the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was not concerned exclusively with interracial cooperation or segregation and discrimination as a character issue.

Rather, as in earlier decades, the prize was a redefinition of American society and a redistribution of social and economic power. For example, they will question whether President Kennedy sincerely believed in racial equality when he supported civil rights or only did so out of political expediency. Or they may ask how whites could be so cruel as to attack peaceful and dignified demonstrators.

Leading productive discussions that consider broader issues will likely have to involve debunking some conventional wisdom about the Civil Rights Movement. Guiding students to discuss the extent to which nonviolence and racial integration were considered within the movement to be hallowed goals can lead them to greater insights.

Nonviolence and passive resistance were prominent tactics of protesters and organizations. But they were not the only ones, and the number of protesters who were ideologically committed to them was relatively small. Although the name of one of the important civil rights organizations was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, its members soon concluded that advocating nonviolence as a principle was irrelevant to most African Americans they were trying to reach.

Movement participants in Mississippi, for example, did not decide beforehand to engage in violence, but self-defense was simply considered common sense. If some SNCC members in Mississippi were convinced pacifists in the face of escalating violence, they nevertheless enjoyed the protection of local people who shared their goals but were not yet ready to beat their swords into ploughshares.

Armed self-defense had been an essential component of the black freedom struggle, and it was not confined to the fringe.

  1. Two examples of this were highlighted in the first part of this essay. Southern senators filibustered, but they could not prevent the formation of a national consensus against lynching; by 1938 the number of lynchings declined steeply.
  2. Army veteran Robert F. Du Bois believed in what is today called multiculturalism.
  3. The drama of the mid-twentieth century emerged on a foundation of earlier struggles. Two examples of this were highlighted in the first part of this essay.
  4. In the 1930s, the National Negro Congress brought blacks into the newly formed United Steel Workers, and the union paid attention to the particular demands of African Americans. There are many excellent books that study the development of the Civil Rights Movement in one locality or state.

Returning soldiers fought back against white mobs during the Red Summer of 1919. In 1946, World War Two veterans likewise protected black communities in places like Columbia, Tennessee, the site of a bloody race riot. Army veteran Robert F. Students should be encouraged to consider why activists may have considered violence a necessary part of their work and what role it played in their overall programs. Are violence and nonviolence necessarily antithetical, or can they be complementary?

For example the Black Panther Party may be best remembered by images of members clad in leather and carrying rifles, but they also challenged widespread police brutality, advocated reform of the criminal justice system, and established community survival programs, including medical clinics, schools, and their signature breakfast program.

One question that can lead to an extended discussion is to ask students what the difference is between people who rioted in the 1960s and advocated violence and the participants in the Boston Tea Party at the outset of the American Revolution. Both groups wanted out from oppression, both saw that violence could be efficacious, and both were excoriated by the rulers of their day. Teachers and students can then explore reasons why those Boston hooligans are celebrated in American history and whether the same standards should be applied to those who used arms in the 1960s.

An important goal of the Civil Rights Movement was the elimination of segregation. But if students, who are now a generation or more removed from Jim Crow, are asked to define segregation, they are likely to point out examples of individual racial separation such as blacks and whites eating at different cafeteria tables and the existence of black and white houses of worship.

Yet segregation was a social, political, and economic system that placed African Americans in an inferior position, disfranchised them, and was enforced by custom, law, and official and vigilante violence. The discussion of segregation should be expanded beyond expressions of personal preferences. One way to do this is to distinguish between black and white students hanging out in different parts of a school and a law mandating racially separate schools, or between black and white students eating separately and a laws or customs excluding African Americans from restaurants and other public facilities.

Put another way, the civil rights movement was not fought merely to ensure that students of different backgrounds could become acquainted with each other. The goal of an integrated and multicultural America is not achieved simply by proximity. Schools, the economy, and other social institutions needed to be reformed to meet the needs for all. Du Bois believed in what is today called multiculturalism.

But by the mid-1930s he concluded that the Great Depression, virulent racism, and the unreliability of white progressive reformers who had previously expressed sympathy for civil rights rendered an integrated America a distant dream. Black communities across the country were in severe distress; it was counterproductive, he argued, to sacrifice black schoolchildren at the altar of integration and to get them into previously all-white schools, where they would be shunned and worse.

Scholars Debate Any brief discussion of historical literature on the Civil Rights Movement is bound to be incomplete. The books offered—a biography, a study of the black freedom struggle in Memphis, a brief study of the Brown decision, and a debate over the unfolding of the movement—were selected for their accessibility variety, and usefulness to teaching, as well as the soundness of their scholarship.

NAACP, by Kenneth Robert Janken, is a biography of one of the most well known civil rights figure of the first half of the twentieth century. He was a formidable persuader and was influential in the halls of power, counting Eleanor Roosevelt, senators, representatives, cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, union leaders, Hollywood moguls, and diplomats among his circle of friends.

His style of work depended upon rallying enlightened elites, and he favored a placing effort into developing a civil rights bureaucracy over local and mass-oriented organizations. During decades when the majority of African Americans were legally disfranchised, White led the organization that gave them an effective voice, representing them and interpreting their demands and desires as he understood them to those in power.

Two examples of this were highlighted in the first part of this essay: There are many excellent books that study the development of the Civil Rights Movement in one locality or state. An excellent addition to the collection of local studies is Battling the Plantation Mentality, by Laurie B. Green, which focuses on Memphis and the surrounding rural areas of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi between the late 1930s and 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated there.

Like the best of the local studies, this book presents an expanded definition of civil rights that encompasses not only desegregation of public facilities and the attainment of legal rights but also economic and political equality.

Central to this were efforts by African Americans to define themselves and shake off the cultural impositions and mores of Jim Crow. During WWII, unionized black men went on strike in the defense industry to upgrade their job classifications. When the workers tried to walk off the job, the owner had them arrested, which gave rise to local protest.

In 1960, black Memphis activists helped support black sharecroppers in surrounding counties who were evicted from their homes when they initiated voter registration drives. The accompanying documents affirm the longstanding black freedom struggle, including demands for integrated schools in Boston in 1849, continuing with protests against the separate but equal ruling in Plessy v.

The documents are prefaced by detailed head notes and provocative discussion questions. Lawson and Charles Payne, is likewise focused on instruction and discussion. This essay has largely focused on the development of the Civil Rights Movement from the standpoint of African American resistance to segregation and the formation organizations to fight for racial, economic, social, and political equality.

One area it does not explore is how the federal government helped to shape the movement. Charles Payne vigorously disagrees, focusing instead on the protracted grassroots organizing as the motive force for whatever incomplete change occurred during those years. Each essay runs about forty pages, followed by smart selections of documents that support their cases. He is the author of White: The Biography of Walter White, Mr. Logan and the Dilemma of the African American Intellectual.