The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement Michelle Brown The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s were a profound turning point in American History. African American’s had been fighting for equality for many years but in the early 1950s the fight started to heighten, from Rosa Parks, to Martin Luther King Jr. , to Malcolm X, the fight would take on many different forms over the span of two decades, and was looked at from many different points of view. The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement
For most historians the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement started on December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This is when the rise of the Civil Rights Movement began; however, there were several previous incidents which helped to lead up to the movement. In 1951, the “Martinsville Seven” were all African American men tried by an all white jury in the rape of a white woman from Virginia. All seven were found guilty, and for the first time in Virginia history, were sentenced to the death penalty for rape. Webspinner, 2004-2009). In this same year the African American students at Moton High decided to strike against the unequal educational treatment. Their case was later added to the Brown v Board of Education suit in 1954. (Webspinner, 2004-2009). In June 1953, a bus boycott was held in Baton Rouge, LA. After the bus drivers refused to enforce Ordinance 222, an ordinance which changed segregated seating on buses so that African American’s would fill the bus from the back forward and whites would fill it from the front back on a first come first serve basis, the Ordinance was overturned.
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Led by Reverend Jemison and other African American businessmen, the African American community decided to boycott the bus system. Later in the month Ordinance 251 was put in place, allowing a section of the bus to be black only and a section to be white only, the rest of the bus would be first come first serve. (Webspinner, 2004-2009). In May 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the following verdict on Brown v Board of Education. We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factor may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. ” (Webspinner, 2004-2009).
Even though the actual desegregation of schools did not take place in 1954, this ruling was a major step in the Civil Rights Movement which took place prior to Rosa Parks. Nonviolent Protest Movement Martin Luther King Jr. went far in his belief and commitment to nonviolent resistance. King believed, and taught, six important points about nonviolent resistance. The first was nonviolent resistance is not cowardly, “According to King, a nonviolent protester was as passionate as a violent protester, Despite not being physically aggressive, ‘his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade the opponent that he is mistaken. ” (McElrath, 2009). His second point was that nonviolent resistance would awaken moral shame in a protestor’s opponent, which would then lead the opponent to understanding and friendship. Kings third point was nonviolent resistance was a battle against evil not a battle against individuals. His fourth point stated that suffering was required in nonviolent resistance, “Accordingly, the end was more important than safety, and retaliatory violence would distract from the main fight. ” (McElrath, 2009). King’s fifth point was, the nonviolent resister was on the side of Justice.
His final point was the power of love rests with nonviolent resisters, this is the love of understanding not of affection, “Bitterness and hate were absent from the resister mind, and replaced with love. ” (McElrath, 2009). King continued to preach nonviolent resistance through all the boycotts, sit-ins, protest marches, and speeches. After being arrested in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1963, he wrote letters from the Birmingham jail about nonviolent resistance. Later in 1963 he led a massive march on Washington DC, this is where he delivered his I Have A Drams speech. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Up until his assassination in April 1968, “he never wavered in his insistence that nonviolence must remain the central tactic of the civil-rights movement, nor in his faith that everyone in America would some day attain equal justice. ” (Chew, 1995-2008). Malcolm X Malcolm X, whom at one time was a minister for the Nation of Islam, had a more militant style to attain rights for African Americans. After the Washington DC march he did not understand why African Americans had been so excited about a demonstration, “run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn’t like us when he was alive. (Adams, 2009). Malcolm, to the protestors, represented a militant revolutionary who would stand up and fight to win equality, while also being a person who wanted to bring on positive social services and was an exceptional role model. In fact, it was the customs of Malcolm X which were severely rooted in the academic foundations of the Black Panther Party. Malcolm X was murdered in 1965, but his beliefs lived on for long after. Conclusion While King and Malcolm X never shared the same platform, and had two very different beliefs in how to end segregation and racisms, they were both key players in the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. preached nonviolent resistance, and Malcolm X had a militant style to his beliefs. After Malcolm X was murdered, King wrote the following to his widow, “while we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence of the root of the problem. ” (Adams, 2009). References: Adams, R. (2009) Martin and Malcolm, Two 20th Century Giants. Retrieved on September 27, 2009, from http://www. black-collegian. com/african/mlk/giants2000-2nd. html Chew, R. (1995-2008) Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil-Rights Leader, 1929 ??? 1968. Retrieved on September 27, 2009, from http://www. lucidcafe. com/library/96jan/king. html McElrath, J. (2009) Martin Luther King’s Philosophy on Nonviolent Resistance, The Power of Love. Retrieved on September 27, 2009, from http://afroamhistory. about. com/od/martinlutherking/a/mlks_philosophy_2. htm Webspinner. (2004-2009) We’ll Never Turn Back History & Timeline of the Southern Freedom Movement. Retrieved on September 27, 2009 from http://www. crmvet. org/tim/timhome. htm