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Background to the Civil Rights Movement

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1 Background to the Civil Rights Movement

2 The Deep South The southern states of the United States – known as the Deep South – were famous for their rich, fruitful plantations, cotton farms, white-washed columned houses, genteel manners, lilting voices, and iced tea. The American Civil War ( ) resulted in the emancipation of the South’s black slave population, and many white Southerners harboured ill feelings toward the freed blacks.


4 Strange Fruit Southern trees bear a strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees Pastoral scene of the gallant South The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck For the rain to gather For the wind to suck For the sun to rot For the tree to drop Here is a strange and bitter crop

5 After the Civil War Amendments made after the Civil War changed the rights of ex-slaves, but not necessarily their status: 13th: 1865 abolished slavery 14th: 1868 established citizenship 15th: 1870 universal male suffrage

6 The NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People – formed in 1909

7 Jim Crow “It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other in any game of cards or dice, dominoes or checkers.” —Birmingham, Alabama, 1930 “Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school.” —Missouri, 1929 “All railroads carrying passengers in the state (other than street railroads) shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations.” —Tennessee, 1891

8 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott
Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus. A boycott follows, leading to desegregation. This constituted a major spark for the Civil Rights Movement.

9 Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas, 1957
The historic verdict of Brown v. The Board of Education was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954, ruling that segregated schools were unconstitutional. In 1957, a group of African-American students enrolled at Little Rock Central High School, a racially segregated school. Groups of segregationsists (people who wanted to KEEP segregation) blocked the Little Rock Nine’s entry to the school. The Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, deployed the Arkansas National Guard to help keep the students out of the school. One of the students, Elizabeth Eckford, recalled the reaction of the crowd to the students: “They moved closer and closer ... Somebody started yelling... I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd-someone who could maybe help. I looked into the face of one old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me... “

10 Little Rock Nine

11 The President becomes involved
The mayor of Little Rock, asked President Eisenhower for assistance in enforcing integration and protect the nine students. On September 24, the President ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to the school to protect the Little Rock Nine. By the end of September 1957, the students were admitted to the school. Nonetheless, they faced regular abuse from the white students.


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