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Amistad © 2009 Civil Rights Movement Forms of Protests Start
Amistad © 2009 More than Marches During the long Civil Rights Movement, protesters used a variety of tactics to win equality for African Americans. While most images of the movement, such as this photograph from the March on Washington in 1963 show mass marches, civil rights activists utilized many forms of direct-action protest to bring their cause to the attention of the nation and the world. 1963 March on Washington End
Amistad © 2009 The NAACPs Legal Strategy Many early protest activities were aimed at winning civil rights through the courts. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had an entire legal division devoted to prosecuting legal cases in order to end Jim Crow segregation. The NAACP was responsible for bringing a number of important cases before the Supreme Court. Many of these cases resulted in important legal victories. One of these was Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954 this Supreme Court decision outlawed segregation in public education. End
Amistad © 2009 Montgomery Bus Boycott Economic boycotts were among the more common methods civil rights activists used to challenge segregation. Such boycotts typically involved the refusal of participants to shop or to utilize the services of businesses that practiced segregation. After Rosa Parks arrest in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the Montgomery Improvement Association organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The intent of the boycott was to undercut the citys policy of segregation on public transportation by undermining the profits of the private bus companies that operated in Montgomery. End Rosa Parks was arrested because she refused to leave her seat on this bus.
Amistad © 2009 Montgomery Bus Boycott The bus boycott lasted from December 1, 1955, until December 20, 1956, and nearly put the bus company out of business. The Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama state and local laws regarding segregated transportation by race to be unconstitutional. It also witnessed the rise of a young, charismatic minister named Martin Luther King Jr. End
Amistad © 2009 Greensboro Sit-ins Civil rights protesters also used public protests to challenge segregated facilities. In 1960, four African-American students from North Carolina A&T State University, Ezell A. Blair, Jr., David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain sat at a segregated lunch counter at a Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina. The counter only seated whites, and African Americans were required to stand for service. Over the next few days, the number of students and protesters grew to almost a thousand. The protest inspired additional sit-ins and served to undermine segregation both locally and nationally. End
Amistad © 2009 Freedom Riders In 1961 civil rights activists, dubbed Freedom Riders, boarded buses to test the enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia. This ruling banned segregation of interstate commerce. The court ruled passengers using transportation facilities for interstate traffic could not be segregated. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17. Most riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violation of state and local Jim Crow laws. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sponsored the rides. End Map of the Freedom Rider routes
Amistad © 2009 Birmingham Campaign After the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This organization protested local segregation laws. Demonstrators endured violence, beatings, and fire bombings. Both government officials and the police attempted to stop the protests. In 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, the protests were aimed at ending the citys discriminatory civil and economic policies. The campaign lasted for more than two months. Dr. King and his fellow demonstrators used non- violent civil disobedience to fill the jails and force the city to confront the problem through negotiation rather than arrests. This is where Dr. King wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. End
Amistad © 2009 March on Washington In 1963 almost 200,000 African Americans and whites met at the Washington Monument to participate in the March on Washington. This march was the largest of the civil rights protests. At this massive protest, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech. Dr. Kings stirring delivery of this historic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was the climax of the day. Groups of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations had organized the march. Because of political pressure generated by this demonstration, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. End
Amistad © 2009 Selma to Montgomery Marches The Selma to Montgomery Marches were peaceful marches held in March 1965. The purpose of the marches was to help African Americans in the South register to vote. The first march was held on March 7 but was cut short when state and local police would not allow the marchers to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Police beat some marchers. Photos of the beatings made national headlines. Dr. King led the second march on March 9. The protesters walked to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, conducted a prayer session, and dispersed. At the third march, the demonstrators were granted a court order and were permitted to march from Selma to Montgomery without police harassment. The march covered fifty- four miles in five days and four nights. End
Amistad © 2009 The Black Panther Party Not all protest efforts followed Dr. Martin Luther Kings non-violence philosophy. Within the Civil Rights Movement some leaders such as North Carolina NAACP head Robert F. Williams argued African Americans should defend themselves against violent attacks. Muslim minister Malcolm X, a Black Power advocate, also called for self-defense. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, in 1966. Armed self-defense was a part of this organization's political program. The groups angry rhetoric and violent posturing resulted in numerous confrontations with the police. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, later declared the Panthers to be the number one threat to the nations internal security. End
Amistad © 2009 Poor Peoples Campaign In 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC organized the Poor Peoples Campaign to address economic justice issues. The campaign was to culminate with a mass march on Washington, D.C. The purpose of this protest was to spotlight the problem of poverty in the United States. The march originated in Mark, Mississippi. From there, Dr. King crisscrossed the country to assemble a multi-racial army of the poor. This group of demonstrators would descend on Washington and engage in non-violent civil disobedience at the Capitol. The purpose of this protest was to force Congress to enact a poor peoples bill of rights. Unfortunately, Dr. King was assassinated before the campaign was completed. End
Amistad © 2009 Although civil rights demonstrators generally adhered to non-violent forms of protest, some of the groups they influenced did not share the same commitment to non-violence. During the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago, protesters associated with the National Mobilization Committee Against the War in Vietnam planned to hold violent demonstrations in hopes of focusing the nations attention on the war. Their presence at the convention led to violent clashes with police. When the protests ended, seven leaders of the demonstrations, including Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale, were arrested and later tried for their role in the rioting. These seven leaders came to be known as the Chicago Seven. In February 1970, Judge Julius Hoffman found the Chicago Seven guilty on an assortment of charges. On appeal, however, the convictions were overturned. 1968 Democratic National Convention End
Amistad © 2009 Black Power Protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics Civil rights protests were not limited to political organizations. On October 16, 1968, the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) staged one of the more well-known protests of the decade. On that date, American track and field athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos used their medal-winning performance at the Olympic Games in Mexico City to protest what they later described as the injustice of racism in America. On the podium the two men stood shoeless and wore black socks to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos wore beads around his neck to symbolize those who had been lynched or killed in acts of racial violence. As the men stood on the podium, they wore black gloves and raised one fist to represent black power. The two men were booed and eventually forced to relinquish their medals; however, they expressed no remorse. Smith said, We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight. Statues of Tommie Smith (middle) and John Carlos (left) are on display at San Jose State University. The two men in the background of the photo are Smith and Carlos, respectively. End
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