United States of America as it is today. Ultimately, it took an entire nation to bring segregation to an end; credit could not be associated with just one- or even a handful of people. In particular, the works of Fannies Lou Hammer, Lyndon B. Johnson, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jar. Vastly contributed to African-American’s current rights; including but not limited to the right to vote, the right to not be discriminated against in public places, in public vehicles, and in employment, and ability to attend the same schools as any other human.
Fannies Lou Hammer An African-American woman who became a notable influence on the African-American civil rights movement was Fannies Lou Hammer. “Before civil rights activists arrived in Relieve [in 1962] to start a voter registration drive, Hammer recalled, “l didn’t know that a Negro could register to vote. ‘”‘ (Roars, 2002). After being poverty-stricken, exploited and oppressed for forty-five years, Hammer was under the impression that blacks were free but did not possess the same rights as Caucasian Americans, such as suffrage.
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This was a viewpoint that was shared by many African-Americans like Hammer. As a matter of fact, in 1962 “blacks accounted for more than 60 percent of Sunflower County [Mississippi] population but only 1. 2 percent of registered voters. ” (Roars, 2002). The distinctive presence of hostiles, heavily armed white men surrounding courthouses, was enough to intimidate any African- American from attempting to register. With encouragement from civil rights activists, Hammer was one of the few women courageous enough to brave the hostiles and apply for her rights to suffrage.
In the 1 9605, voting wasn’t as simple as completing registration paperwork. In a concealed attempt to deny African-American suffrage, registrars would ask African-American applicants a Erie’s of obscure questions about the Constitution. Hammer initially “failed the test but resolved to try again. When the plantation owner ordered Hammer to withdraw her registration application or get off his land, she left his plantation. Ten days later, bullets flew into the home of friends who had taken her in.
Refusing to be intimidated, she registered to vote on her third attempt, attended a civil rights leadership training conference, and began to mobile others to vote. ” (Roars, 2002) Hammer’s fearlessness came at a price, she lost her job and home all because she registered to vote. However, hose consequences only reconfirmed Hammer’s determination to help other African-American’s exercise their right to vote. Hammer’s legacy inspired civil rights activists all over America to take a more prominent stance in the black freedom struggle. Lyndon B. Johnson “In the 1 960 campaign, Lyndon B.
Johnson was elected Vice president as John F. Kennedy’s running mate. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President, with a vision to build “A Great Society’ for the American people. ” (White House). Lyndon B. Johnny’s “Great Society/’ promised an abundance of liberties for al. He claimed that his new plan would reverse poverty and end racial injustice. Lyndon B. Johnson believed that the government should use its power to “solve social and economic problems, and injustice, and promote the welfare of all of the citizens. (Roars, 2012). The Great Society became Johnny’s agenda for Congress to improve education, aid Medicare, end sickness, encourage religions to freely practice and coexist, fight poverty, control crime, and ultimately remove obstacles to the right to vote. Johnson also played a big part in the African-American Civil Rights movement and he poke many times on their behalf. “During the years he was President, on at least 232 occasions he made public references to the subject. ” (Billing, 1977).
Joy noon’s unyielding determination to bring equality to all Americans lead to the 1 964 Civil Rights Act which ended segregation in public places, including employment discrimination based on the race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Johnny’s Civil Rights Act is considered the crown jewel of the Civil Rights Movement because of the opportunities it provided for minorities. “The highpoint of the President’s public remarks came on March 15, 1965, hen he spoke on black civil rights before a joint session of Congress and a national television audience. Referring to black voting rights… ” (Billing, 1977).
This speech eventually leads to the August 6, 1965 sign ins of the Voting Rights Act which ended racial discrimination in voting. This act is considered by many to be the single most effective civil rights legislation ever enacted in the nation. This is because it reinforces the fourteenth amendment, which defines citizenship, and the fifteenth amendment, which prohibits denial of the right to vote based on discrimination. Rosa Parks In December of 1943, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) gained a new civil rights activist who would change civil rights history forever.
Her name was Rosa Parks. “She became secretary of the chapter at her first meeting and soon began work on a voter registration drive and plans to desegregate transportation. ” (Lee, 2006). Her decision to accept this position came at a heavy price. She lost her job as a seamstress and received death threats for years. However, Parks favored the work she was doing and was unwilling to sacrifice her beliefs. Parks duties as secretary “involved traveling around Alabama and interviewing citizens about their experiences with racial discrimination. (Lee, 2006). The NAACP helped many African-American’s conform to activist practices simply by documenting injustices and informing the general public. After all, one cannot solve a problem if they are unaware that a problem exists, just as one cannot exercise his rights if he doesn’t know what those rights are. One of Parks’ early activism successes was her work on the case Of Race Taylor, a black woman who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured by six white men. “Parks was instrumental in organizing the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs.. Race Taylor. (Lee, 2006. ) An article in the Chicago Defender described Parka’s efforts as “the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade. ” (McGuire, 2012). Part of what made Parks so effective at her job was her skills as a motivational speaker. Her tactic went beyond the NAACP prerogative to inform Americans of their civil rights. Parks encouraged everyone she knew to always speak their mind and stand up for the things that they believed in. “Parka’s reputation around the state grew in direct proportion to her concentrated efforts.
By 1947, she was a well-known civil rights figure throughout Alabama. ” Some even called her the “first lady of civil rights” and “mother of the freedom movement. ” (McGuire, 2012). Jim Crow Laws “The Jim Crow Laws were “a practice or policy of segregation or discriminating against blacks in public places, public vehicles, or employment. ” (Dictionary, 2015). The Jim Crow Laws were established in 1890 under the “separate but equal” act for African-Americans and remained effective until 1965 when segregation was officially repealed.
Under the Jim Crow laws, nurses may only treat patients of their own kind. Hospitals also had separate entrances for whites and colored. Buses required separate ticket booths, waiting areas, and boarding docks to ensure that races do not intermix. On railroads, the conductor acknowledged all responsibility for seating assignments to ensure that races do not intermingle. Restaurants must be designed in such a way that colored have a separate entrance and dining area. It was unlawful for a white and colored man to play a game of billiards together.
White and colored men were required by law to have separate bathrooms. White and black schools were conducted separately. Any teacher caught teaching a student of the opposite race would be subject to a fine of $10-$50 per offense. Colored men who found themselves in a white woman’s bedroom at nighttime were sentenced to a year in jail plus fine. Black barbers were not permitted to touch a white female’s hair. In Georgia, a black man must not be buried in the same soil as a white man, even if the black man served in the United State’s Armed Forces.
In Baseball, white men were not allowed to play baseball within two blocks of a park dedicated to Negroes. Likewise, Negroes could only play baseball in a park assassinated for Negro recreation. Bartenders could serve alcohol to either race, however, a bartender could only secure a liquor license to serve whites or a liquor license to serve colored. It would be unlawful to be in possession of both liquor licenses. Public events, such as Circuses and Theatre, required separate entrances, ticket booths, and seating for white and colored.
In Mississippi, promoting equality was considered a misdemeanors subject to fine and imprisonment. Prisons allowed races to coexist except during meals and housing. In North Carolina, libraries had a “colored-section” in case Negroes felt compelled to read. Oklahoma reserved the right to designate areas where colored and whites conduct their fishing boating, bathing, and mining. Public telephone booths were also segregated. Finally, South Carolina passed a law saying that it would be unlawful for any white person to give custody of their white child to a colored parent. (Jackson, 2001).
Desegregate Transportation In 1954, civil rights activists celebrated a victory when they won the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka. The defendant argued that the fourteenth amendment was not violated so long as the separate school souses for the separate races were equal. The plaintiff argued that the separate school houses were in fact not equal. Instead, black Americans received subordinate education, accommodations, and treatment. The US Constitution states that “all men are created equal. ” The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional.
Once again, “by 1 955 the time was ripe for an organized challenge to Jim Crow in Montgomery. ” (Lee, 2006). This time the concentration would be on desegregating public transportation. The public bus was divided into three sections. The first ten sows were reserved for white passengers only, just as the last ten rows were reserved for colored passengers. The middle of the bus was often referred to as “no man’s land. ” Colored passengers were allowed to sit in “no man’s land” so long as white passengers had available seats in their section. On 1 December 1 955, after a long days work, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for a trip home. ” Parks paid her ten cents fare, noticed that there were several empty seats in the white section, and chose a seat in no man’s land. After just two stops, the white section filled up with passengers, so the driver topped the bus and asked Parks and three African-American gentlemen to move to the back of the bus. Parks, tired from a long day at work, informed the young white passenger that she had a bad back and she refused to give up her seat.
The driver called the cops and Parks was arrested. The city of “Montgomery responded in two ways: the best legal minds prepared to challenge the constitutionality of segregation, and the grassroots activists, clergy, educators, and everyday fold planned for a boycott of the buses. Both succeeded. ” (Lee, 2006). The African-American community boycotted the remonstration system by organizing alternative forms of transportation and avoiding buses. Many African-Americans simply walked. The NAACP strategically placed Parks as the centerpiece of the protest.
She became the symbol of hope, by organizing dispatchers for alternative forms of transportation and also handing out food to those who lost their jobs due to the protest. The protest became the most renowned event of the year, and African-Americans avoided buses for 381 days. “In June 1965 activists won a victory in federal district court when a three-judge panel ruled that intrastate us segregation was unconstitutional. In November and December 1 956 the U. S. Supreme Court responded to appeals by affirming the district court’s original ruling. Parks and her community Were victorious. (Lee, 2006. ) parks and her husband faced many challenges after the protest. Both lost their jobs and neither one of them were employable. Within a year of their victory, Parks, and her husband left Montgomery and moved to Detroit. Immediately upon settling down in her new city, Parks continued her activist practices and even participated in the 1 963 march in Washington and the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Martin Luther King, Jar. In the 1 9505, despite Civil Rights Activists were winning many cases in court, however, southern states were slow to conform to the new legislation.
There were also no laws protecting African-Americans from racist business owners. “In May 1 963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (CLC), led by Martin Luther King, Jar. , used nonviolent protest to force businesses in Bingham, Alabama, to desegregate. (Jeffery, 2013). The protest sparked the attention of several media reporters, and eventually caught the attention of President John F. Kennedy himself. This, among other factors, led Kennedy to announce a new civil rights bill. ‘ ‘The CLC and other civil rights groups wanted to keep up the pressure for change.
It was decided to organize a march on the capital to demand the civil rights bill be strengthened and passed by Congress. ” (Jeffery, 2013). The protesters also demanded a complete end to segregation in schools. African-Americans students, especially young children, should not feel exploited or inferior to white students at similar schools. This demand was also in response to the University of Mississippi incident. The University accepted James Meredith as he first African-American student at an otherwise white school. Violence and riots caused President Kennedy to send 5,000 troupes to break up the situation.
King had been living in Montgomery for less than a year when the highly segregated city became the epicenter of the Black freedom struggle. “When Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her place on a segregated bus and was arrested in 1 965, King spearheaded the resulting Montgomery boycott campaign and became one of the foremost civil rights leaders. ” Clergy, 2013). The question wasn’t whether or not the boycott would be effective. The question was whether or not enough people would come. Activists worked hard to ensure that transportation was free and available to anyone who was brave enough to come.
Many blacks traveled from the north, and a few brave souls came from the south. Amongst many other motivational speakers, Martin Luther King, Jar. Prepared a speech. Martin Luther King, Jar. Was often compared to Mahatma Gandhi because he always preached non-violent protest. In King’s final years, he broadened his focus to include poverty. In 1968, King was preparing for his “Poor People’s Campaign” to be presented at Washington D. C. When he was assassinated. The works of Fannies Lou Hammer, Lyndon B. Johnson, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jar. Unify all races of Americans.