Chapter 21 Terms

Jo Ann Gibson Robinson
Professor at the all-black Alabama State College, and president of the Women’s Political Council, a group of professional African-American women determined to increase black political power; she accidentally sat at the front of the bus which were reserved for whites and was yelled at by the bus driver; she ‘felt like a dog’ and sent out a call for all African Americans to boycott Montgomery buses; four days after the Brown decision in May 1954, Robinson wrote wrote a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, asking that bus drivers no longer be allowed to force riders in the colored section to yield their seats to whites, but the mayor refused
Civil Rights Act of 1875
This act outlawed segregation in public facilities such as ‘inns, public conveyances, land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement,’ but the all-white Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional in 1883
Plessy v. Ferguson
During the 1890s, a number of other court decisions and state laws severely limited African-American rights; in 1890, Louisiana passed a law requiring railroads to provide ‘equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races’; in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that ‘separate but equal’ did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees all Americans equal treatment under the law
Civil Rights Movement
After the Civil War, many African Americans tried to escape Southern racism by moving north; the migration of Southern blacks sped up greatly during World War I, as many African-American sharecroppers abandoned farms for the promise of industrial jobs in the North, but racial prejudice and segregation existed there too; most could find housing only in all-black neighborhoods and many white workers resented the competition for jobs, sometimes leading to violence; World War II set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement, because a) the demand for soldiers in the early 1940s created a shortage of white male laborers, opening oppurtunities for blacks, b) nearly one million African Americans served in the armed forces, which needed so many fighting men that they had to end their discrimination policies, which used to restrict many black soldiers from serving, and many African-American soldiers returned home from war determined to fight for their own freedom, and c) during the war, civil rights organizations actively campaigned for African-American voting rights and challenged Jim Crow laws, causing President Roosevelt to issue a presidential directive prohibiting racial discrimination by federal agencies and all companies engaged in war work, laying the groundwork for more organized companies to end segregation
Charles Hamilton Houston
An influential figure in the fight to desegregate education, brilliant Howard University law professor, and a chief legal counsel of the NAACP from 1934 to 1938; he focused the NAACP’s legal strategy on the inequality between the separate schools that many states provided, due to the fact that the nation spent ten times as much money educating a white child as an African-American child; he used his limited resources to challenge the most glaring inequalities of segregated public education, and in 1938 he placed a team of his best law students under the direction of Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
From 1938 to 1961 (23 years), he and his NAACP lawyers would win 29 out of 32 cases before the Supreme Court, including legal milestones that chipped away at the segregation platform of Plessy v. Ferguson; he dedicated his life to fighting racism, denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School because he was black; in 1961, JFK nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and in 1965 LBJ picked him for U.S. solicitor general and two years later named him as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, and remained an advocate of civil rights until his retirement in 1991
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Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
Marshall’s most stunning victory, where on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down segregation in schooling as an unconstutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause; the Brown decision was relevant for some 12 million schoolchildren in 21 states; Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that, ‘in the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place’
Brown v. Board reaction
Official reaction to the ruling of Brown v. Board was mixed; in Kansas and Oklahoma, state officials expected segregation to end with little trouble; in Texas the governor warned the plan might take years to work, and actively prevented desegregation by calling in the Texas Rangers; in Mississippi and Georgia, officials vowed total resistance, with Georgia Governor Herman Talmadge saying he would do whatever is necessary to keep ‘white children in white schools and colored children in colored schools’; within a year, 500 school districts had desegregation their classrooms including Baltimore, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., but in many places whites resisted desegregation; the Ku Klux Klan reappeared and the White Citizens Councils boycotted businesses that supported desegregation; to speed things up, in 1955 the Supreme Court handed down a second ruling, known as Brown II, that ordered desegregation implemented quickly, with Eisenhower initially refusing comply until Little Rock Nine occurred
Little Rock crisis
In 1948, Arkansas had become the first Southern state to admit African Americans to state universities without being required by a court order; by the 1950s, some scout troops and labor unions in Arkansas had quietly ended their Jim Crow practices; Little Rock citizens had elected two men to the school board who publicly backed desegregation- and the school superintendent, Virgil Blossom, began planning for desegregation soon after Brown; however, Governor Orval Faubus publicly showed support for segregation and in September 1957, he ordered the National Guard to turn away the ‘Little Rock Nine,’ nine African-American students who had volunteered to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School as the first step in Blossom’s plan; a federal judge ordered Faubus to let the students into school; in response to the crisis, Eisenhower placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and ordered a thousand paratroopers into Little Rock who protected the students; Faubus shut down Central High rather than let integration continue, however
Montgomery Bus Boycott
On the night of December 5, 1955, Dr. King made a passionate and eloquent speech to between 5,000 and 15,000 people declaring to gain justice on buses in Montgomery; African Americans filed filed a lawsuit and for 381 days refused to ride the buses in Montgomery; instead, they walked long distances or organized car pools; support came from within the black community- workers donated one-fifth of their weekly salaries- as well as from outside groups like the NAACP, the United Auto Workers, Montgomery’s Jewish community, and white southerners; the boycotted remained nonviolent even after a bomb ripped apart King’s home; finally, in 1956, the Supreme Court outlawed bus segregation; the boycott proved to the world that the African-American community could unite and successfully organize a protest movement and the power of nonviolent resistance
Rosa Parks
A seamstress and an NAACP officer who on December 1, 1955, took a seat in the front row of the colored section of a Montgomery bus; as the bus filled up, the driver ordered Parks and three other African-American passengers to empty the row they were occupying so that a white man could sit down without having to sit next to any African Americans; she refused to move and was arrested; news of her arrest spread rapidly, and Jo Ann Robinson as well as NAACP leader E.D. Nixon suggested a bus boycott
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association, pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, an ordained minister since 1948 who earned a Ph.D. degree in theology from Boston University; he was the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); he called his brand of nonviolent resistance ‘soul force,’ basing his ideas on the teachings of several people; from the teachings of Jesus, he learned to love one’s enemies; from writer Henry David Thoreau he took the concept of civil disobedience, the refusal to obey an unjust law; from labor organizer A. Philip Randolph he learned to organize massive demonstrations; from Mohandas Ghandi he learned to resist oppression without violence
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SLCL)
Founded by Martin Luther King Jr. joined by ministers and civil rights leaders in 1957 after the bus boycott in Montgomery, its purpose was to ‘carry on nonviolent crusades against the evils second-class citizenship’; using African-American churches as a base, the SCLC planned to stage protests and demonstrations throughout the South; the leaders hoped to build a movement from the grassroots up and to win the support of ordinary African Americans of all ages; King, president of the SCLC, used the power of his voice and ideas to fuel the movement’s momentum
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
A national protest group which hoped to harness the energy of the student protesters who viewed the pace of change as too slow when for civil rights- they were determined to challenge the system
In 1942 in Chicago, CORE had staged the first sit-ins, in which African-American protesters sat down at segregated lunch counters and refused to leave until they were served; by late 1960, students had descended on and desegregation lunch counters in some 48 cities in 11 states; they endured arrests, beatings, suspension from college, and tear gas and fire hoses, but the army of nonviolent students refused to back down
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Led the desegregation campaign, which they had fought since 1909; the NAACP provided lawyers to win civil rights court cases before the Supreme Court, and challenged educational inequalities among races
Woolworth sit-in
In February 1960, African-American students from North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical College staged a sit-in a whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro; television crews brought coverage of the protest into homes throughout the United States, displaying the ugly fave of racism; day after day, news reporters captured the scenes of whites beating, jeering at, and pouring food over students who refused to strike back; the coverage sparked other sit-ins across the South; store managers called in the police, raised the price of food, and removed counter seats, but the movement continued and spread to the North where students formed picket lines around national chain stores that maintained segregated lunch counters in the South
Ella Baker
She was the first director of the SCLC who organized its activities; while with the NAACP, she had served as national field secretary, traveling over 16,000 miles throughout the South; from 1957 to 1960, she used her contacts to set up branches of the SCLC in Southern cities; in April 1960, she helped students at Shaw University, an African-American university in Raleigh, North Carolina, to organize a national protest group, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Emmett Till
A 14-year old African-American boy who allegedly flirted with a white woman and was then murdered in 1955; there were other shootings and beatings, some fatal, after the Brown decision; racial violence swept through the South, but King remained steadfast to his philosophy
Montgomery Improvement Association
They organized the Montgomery bus boycott; they were made up of the African Americans, including many ministers
Morgan v. Virginia
A Supreme Court case of 1946 which declared unconstitutional those state laws mandating segregated seating on interstate buses
Sweatt v. Painter
A high court case of 1950 which ruled that state law schools must admit black applicants, even of separate black schools exist
Linda Brown
An eight-year-old black girl whose father believed her rights were being violated by denying her admission to an all-white elementary school four blocks from her house and charged the board of education of Topeka
Jim Crow laws
Armed with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, states throughout the nation, but specifically in the South, passed laws aimed at separating the races; these laws forbade marriage between blacks and whites, established restrictions on social and religious contact between the races, created separate schools, streetcars, waiting rooms, railroad coaches, elevators, witness stands, drinking fountains, and public restrooms; signs like ‘Colored Water,’ ‘No Blacks Allowed,’ and ‘Whites Only!’ humiliated African Americans and made them feel inferior to whites
freedom riders
In 1961, James Peck, a white civil rights activist, joined other CORE members on a historic bus trip across the South; the two-bus trip would test the Supreme Court decisions banning segregated seating on interstate bus routes and segregated facilities in bus terminals; Peck and other freedom riders expected a violent reaction; they hoped that this would convince the Kennedy administration to enforce the law
Bus One
At the Alabama state line, white racists got on Bus One carrying chains, brass knuckles, and pistols; they brutally beat African-American riders and white activists who tried to intervene; still the riders managed to go on, and on May 4, 1961, the bus pulled into Birmingham bus terminal, arriving to a hostile mob, some holding iron bars
Bus Two
After the ride of Bus One had ended, Bus Two continued southward on a journey that shocked the Kennedy administration; in Anniston, Alabama, about 200 angry whites attacked Bus Two; the mob followed the activists out of town, and when one of the tires blew, they smashed a window and tossed in a fire bomb; the freedom riders spilled out just before the bus exploded; the bus companies refused to carry the CORE freedom riders any farther, and even though volunteers did not want to give up, they ended their ride; however, CORE director James Farmer announced that a group of SNCC volunteers in Nashville were ready to pick up where the others had left off; when a new band of freedom riders rode into Birmingham, policemen pulled them from the bus, beat them, and drove them into Tennessee; defiantly, they returned to the Birmingham bus terminal, but their bus driver refused to transport them; in protest, they occupied the whites-only waiting room at the terminal for eighteen hours until a solution was reached; after an angry phone call from U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, bus company officials convinced the driver to proceed and the riders set out for Montgomery on May 20
James Meredith
This Air Force veteran won a federal court case in September 1962 which allowed him to enroll in the all-white University of Mississippi; but when he arrived on campus, he faced Governor Ross Barnett, who refused to let him register as a student; President Kennedy ordered federal marshals to escort him to the registrar’s office, to which Barnett responded with a heated radio appeal; thousands of white demonstrators turned out because of this broadcast; on the night of September 30, riots broke out on campus, resulting in two deaths and taking thousands of soldiers, 200 arrests, and 15 hours to stop the rioters; in the months that followed, federal officials accompanied Meredith to class and protected his parents from nightriders who shot up their house
Arrest of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Birmingham, a city known for its strict enforcement of total segregation in public life, also had a reputation for racial violence, including 18 bombings from 1957 to 1963; Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, head of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and secretary of the SCLC, decided something had to be done about Birmingham and that it would be the ideal place to test the power of nonviolence; he invited MLK and the SCLC to help desegregate the city; on April 3, 1963, King flew to Birmingham to hold a planning meeting with members of the African-American community; after days of demonstrations led by Shuttlesworth and others, King and a small band of marchers were finally arrested during a demonstration on Good Friday, April 12th; while in jail, he wrote the famous ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ to white religious leaders who believed he was pushing too fast
Desegregation of Birmingham
On April 20, King posted bail and began planning more demonstrations; on May 2, more than a thousand African-American children marched in Birmingham; police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor’s men arrested 959 of them; on May 3, a second ‘children’s crusade’ came face to face with a helmeted police force; police swept the marchers off their feet with high-pressure fire hoses, set attack dogs on them, and clubbed those who fell, with TV cameras capturing it all, and millions of viewers watching; continued protests, an economic boycott, and negative media coverage finally convinced Birmingham officials to end segregation, inspiring African Americans attack cross the nation; it also convinced President Kennedy that only a new civil rights act could end racial violence and satisfy the demands of African Americans for racial justice
Ernest Withers
An African-American photographer who believed that if the struggle for equality could be shown to people, things would change; armed with only a camera, he braved violent crowds to capture the heated racism during the Montgomery bus boycott, the desegregation of Central High in Little Rock, and the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and helped make signs; he had to be careful about his involvement with the NAACP and COME (Community on the Move for Equality), for he had a family to support; he went to several meeting a night, sometimes taking pictures, sometimes making suggestions, but was constantly watched by FBI agents
Medgar Evers
On June 11, 1963, the president sent troops to force Governor George Wallace to honor a court order desegregating the University of Alabama; that evening, Kennedy demanded that Congress pass a civil rights bill and asked the nation if ‘…this is the land of the free, except for the Negroes?’; a tragic event hours after Kennedy’s speech highlighted the racial tension in much of the South; shortly after midnight, a sniper murdered Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary and WWII veteran; police soon arrested a white supremacist, Byron de la Beckwith, but he was released after two trials resulted in hung juries; his release brought a new militancy to African Americans who demanded freedom
Elizabeth Eckford
NAACP members called eight of the nine black Little Rock students and arranged to drive them to school; they could not reach the ninth student, Elizabeth Eckford, who did not have a phone, and she set off on her own; outside Central High, she faced an abusive crowd, but was helped by two friendly whites and made it to the bus stop
A. Philip Randolph
A labor leader, who along with Bayard Rustin of the SCLC, summoned Americans to a march on Washington, D.C. in order to persuade Congress to pass the civil rights bill proposed by President Kennedy; this proposed bill guaranteed equal access to all public accommodations and gave the U.S. attorney general the power to file school desegregation suits
Birmingham church bombing
Two weeks after King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, four young Birmingham girls were killed when a rider in a car hurled a bomb through their church window, and two more African Americans died in the unrest that followed
Civil Rights Act of 1964
President Lyndon B. Johnson pledged to carry Kennedy’s work on civil rights; on July 2, 1964 Johnson signed this legislation, which prohibited discrimination because of race, religion, national origin, and gender; it gave all citizens the right to water libraries, parks, washrooms, restaurants, theaters, and other public accomodations; it also banned discrimination in employment, enlarged federal power to protect voting rights and speed up school desegregation, and established Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ensure fair treatment in employment
Civil Rights Act of 1957
This civil rights legislation established federal Commission on Civil Rights, established a Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department to enforce civil rights laws, and enlarged federal power to protect voting rights
Voting Rights Act of 1965
In the summer of 1965, Congress passed this legislation which eliminated the so-called literacy tests that had disqualified many voters, and stated that federal examiners could enroll voters who had been denied suffrage by local officials; in Selma, the proportion of African Americans registered to vote rose from 10 percent in 1964 to 60 percent in 1968; overall, the percentage of African-American voters in the South tripled; however, some thought the law did not go far enough, believing that centuries of discrimination had produced social and economic inequalities, which would lead to a series of violent disturbances in the North
Civil Rights Act of 1968
Civil rights legislation which prohibited discrimination in the sale or renting of most housing, strengthened antilynching laws, and made it a crime to harm civil rights workers
Freedom Summer
A project focused in Mississippi which influenced Congress to pass a voting rights act and received national attention; in 1964, CORE and SNCC workers in the South began registering as many African Americans as they could to vote; to fortify the project, civil rights groups recruited college students and trained them in nonviolent resistance; thousands of student volunteers, mostly white about one-third female, went into Mississippi to help register voters; in June of 1964, however, three civil rights workers disappeared in Neshoba County, Mississippi, later discovered to have been murdered by Klansmen and local police, two of whom were white; racial beatings and murders continued, along with the burning of businesses, homes, and churches
Fannie Lou Hamer
Daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, she became leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which was organized by SNCC; in a televised speech that shocked the convention and viewers nationwide, she described how she was jailed for registering to vote in 1962, and how police forced other prisoners to beat her; in response to her speech, telegrams and telephone calls poured in to the convention in support of seating the MFDP delegates; President Johnson feared losing the Southern white vote if the Democrats sided with the MFDP, so his administration pressured civil rights leaders to convince the MFDP to accept a compromise; the Democrats would give 2 of Mississippi’s 68 seats to the MFDP, with a promise to ban discrimination at the 1968 convention; she as well as the MFDP and SNCC supporters felt that the leaders had betrayed them
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP)
A party formed by SNCC to give African Americans a voice in the political arena to create change; aimed to gain a seat in Mississippi all-white Democratic party
The Selma Campaign
At the start of 1965, the SCLC conducted a major voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama, where SNCC had been working for two years to register voters; by the end of 1965, more than 2,000 African Americans had been arrested in SCLC demonstrations; after a demonstrator named Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot and killed, King responded by announcing a 50-mile protest march from Selma to Montgomery and on March 7, 1965, about 600 protesters set out for Montgomery; mayhem broke out, with television camera capturing police swinging whips and clubs, and clouds of rear gas swirled around fallen marchers, shocking viewers; demonstrators poured into Selma by the hundreds, and ten days later President Johnson presented Congress with a new voting rights act and asked for its swift passage; on March 21, 3,000 marchers set out for Montgomery, this time with federal protection, and eventually grew to an army of 21,000
Alice Walker
A prize-winning novelist who became of the civil rights movement in 1960, when she was 16; in 1961, she attended the all-black Spelman College; in 1963, Walker took part in the March on Washington and then traveled to Africa to discover her spiritual roots; after returning home in 1964, he worked on voter registration, taught African American history and writing, and wrote poetry and fiction; her interest in heritage was a growing trend among blacks in the mid 1960s, but millions of African Americans still lived in poverty and began to riot
de facto segregation
The problem facing African Americans in North was de facto segregation- segregation that exists by practice; this type of segregation intensified after African Americans migrated to Northern cities during and after World War II, beginning a ‘white flight’ in which great numbers of white moved out of the cities to nearby suburbs; by the mid-1960s, most urban African Americans lived in decaying slums, paying rent to landlords who didn’t comply with housing and health ordinances; black schools and neighborhoods deteriorated, and unemployment rates were more than twice as high for blacks than whites; many blacks were angry at the brutal treatment they received from the mostly white police force in their communities; in 1966, King spearheaded a campaign in Chicago to end de facto segregation there and he led 30,000 blacks in a march to City Hall; in late July, when King led demonstrators through a Chicago neighborhood, angry whites threw rocks and bottles, and on August 5, hostile whites stoned King as he led 600 marchers, forcing him out Chicago
de jure segregation
Segregation by law, such as legislation barring African Americans from oppurtunities in education, jobs, and housing
race riots
In the mid 1960s, clashes between white authority and black civilians increased; in New York City in July 1964, an encounter between white police and African-American teenagers ended in the death of a 15-year-old student, sparking a race riot in central Harlem; on August 11, 1965, five days after LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, thirty-four people were killed and millions of dollars worth of property was destroyed during a race riot in the streets of Watts, a predominately black neighborhood in Los Angeles; the next year, 1966, saw even more racial disturbances, and in 1967 alone, riots and violent clashes took place in more than 100 cities; this rage baffled many whites, some who realized that what African Americans wanted and needed was economic equality of oppurtunity in housing, jobs, and education; LBJ’s War on Poverty, a program to help impoverished Americans, intended to help poor blacks, instead was redirected to the war in Vietnam
Malcolm X
African-American leader, born Malcolm Little, went to jail at age 20 for burglary; while in prison, he studied the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the head of the Nation of Islam; he changed his name to Malcolm X and after his release from prison in 1952, became an Islamic minister; as he gained a following, the brilliant thinker and engaging speaker openly preached the views of the Nation of Islam that whites were the cause of the black condition and that blacks should separate from white society; his message appealed to many blacks and their growing racial pride, and Andy a New York press conference in March 1964, he advocated armed self-defense; the press gave a great deal of publicity to Malcolm X because controversial statements made dramatic news stories, with his call for armed self-defense frightened most whites and many moderate blacks, and awakened resentment in some other members of the Nation of Islam; in March 1964, he broke with Elijah Muhammad over differences in strategy and doctrine and formed another Muslim organization; on his pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudia Arabia a month later, he learned that orthodox Islam preached racial equality, and he worshipped alongside people from many countries, changing his beliefs; his new slogan, ‘ballots or bullets’ meant that if votes were not put in place, then violence would have to be used to get what blacks needed; on February 21, 1965, while giving a speech in Harlem, he was shot and killed
Nation of Islam
Also known as the Black Muslims, they were led by Elijah Muhammad which held the philosophy of black superiority and separatism from whites; Malcolm X studied the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and preached the views that whites were the cause of the black condition and blacks should be separate from society
Elijah Muhammad
Leader of the Nation of Islam, or the Black Muslims who preached black superiority and separatism from whites
Stokely Carmichael
Leader of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he was arrested 27 times including one time during the walk against fear; he electrified a crowd when he proposed the battle cry Black Power, which encouraged blacks to make goals and lead their own organizations
Black Power
A movement started by Stokely Carmichael, leader of SNCC, which called ‘for black people to begin to define their own goals… [and] to lead their own organization,’ and was urged to stop using the phrase by King because he believed it would provoke African Americans to violence and antagonize whites; Carmichael refused and urged SNCC to stop recruiting whites and to focus on developing African-American pride; ‘Black Power’ became the battle cry of militant civil rights activists
Black Panthers
After the formation of the radical group Black Power in 1966, another development demonstrated the growing radicalism of some segments of the African-American community; in Oakland, California in October 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded a political party known as the Black Panthers to fight police brutality in the ghetto; the party advocated self-sufficiency for the black community, as well as full employment and decent housing; members maintained that African Americans should be exempt from military service because an unfair number of black youths had been drafted to serve in Vietnam; dressed in black leather jackets, black berets, and sunglasses, the Panthers preached self-defense and sold copies of the writings of Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Communist revolution; several police shootouts occurred between the Panthers and the police, and the FBI conducted numerous investigations of group member; however, the Panthers established daycare centers, free breakfast programs, free medical clinics, assistance to the homeless, and other services which won support in the ghetto; MLK did not support the Panthers, believing that preaching violence could only end in grief
Assassination of MLK
MLK planner to lead a Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C., but would not be able to attend; Dr. King seemed to sense that death was near; on April 3, 1968, he addressed a crowd in Memphis, where he had gone to support the city’s striking garbage workers; the next day as King stood on his hotel balcony, James Earl Ray thrust a high-powered rifle out of a window and shot King, killing him
Kerner Commission
On March 1, 1968, the Kerner Commission, which President Lyndon B. Johnson had appointed to study the causes of urban violence, issued its 200,000-word report; in it, the panel named one main cause: white racism; the report concluded that ‘our nation is moving toward to societies, one black, one white- separate and unequal’; the report called for the nation to create new jobs, construct new housing, and end de facto segregation in order to wipe out the destructive ghetto environment; however, the Johnson administration ignored many of the recommendations because of white opposition to such sweeping changes
affirmative action
By 1990, the trend of whites fleeing the cities for the suburbs had reversed much of the progress toward school integration; in 1996-1997, 28 percent of blacks in the South and 50 percent of blacks in the Northeast were attending schools with fewer 10 percent whites; lack of jobs also remained a serious problem for African Americans, who had a poverty rate three times that of whites; to help equalize education and job oppurtunities, the government in 1960s began to promote affirmative action; these affirmative action programs involve making special efforts to hire or enroll groups that have suffered discrimination; many colleges and almost all companies that do business with the federal government adopted such programs; but in the late 1970s, some people began to criticize affirmative action programs as ‘reverse discrimination’ that set minority hiring or enrollment quotas and deprived whites of oppurtunities; in the 1980s, Republican administrations eased affirmative-action requirements for some government contractors; the fate of affirmative action is still to be decided
Gains of Civil Rights Movement
The civil rights movement ended de jure segregation by bringing about legal protection for the civil rights of all Americans; Congress passed the most important civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, including the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which ended discrimination in housing; after school segregation ended, the numbers of African Americans who finished high school and who went to college increased, which led to better jobs and business oppurtunities; African Americans gained more pride in their racial identity, and many blacks adopted African-influenced styles and proudly displayed symbols of African history and culture; college students demanded new Black Studies programs so they could study African-American history and literature, and more African Americans began to appear more frequently in movies and on television shows and commercials; African Americans made substantial political gains like in 1970 when an estimated two thirds of eligible blacks were registered to vote, and a significant increase in African-American elected officials resulted; the number of African Americans holding elected office grew from fewer than 100 in 1965 to 7,000 in 1992; many civil rights activists went on to become political leaders
Shirley Crisholm
In 1968, she became the first African-American woman in the United States House of Representatives; in the mid 1960s, she served in the New York state assembly, representing a district in New York City; while there, she supported programs to establish public daycare centers and provide unemployment insurance for domestic workers; in 1972, she gained national prominence by running for the Democratic presidential nomination, never winning more than 10% of the vote in primaries, but ended up controlling 152 delegates at the Democratic convention in Miami
Apartheid segregation
In 1948, the white government of South Africa passed laws to ensure that whites would stay in control of the country; those laws established a system called apartheid, meaning ‘apartness’ which divided South Africans into four segregated racial groups- whites, blacks, coloreds of mixed races, and Asians; it restricted what jobs nonwhites could hold, where they could live, and what rights they had; the South African government gradually repealed the apartheid laws and in 1994, South Africa had its first all-race election and elected Nelson Mandela as president
Jesse Jackson
A black reverend who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1984 and 1988
Vernon Jordan
Black civil rights activist who led voter-registration drives that enrolled about 2 million African Americans
Andrew Young
Black civil rights activist who served as UN ambassador and Atlanta’s mayor
Unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement
As the 1960s turned to the 1970s, the challenged for the movement changed; the issues it confronted- housing and job discrimination, educational inequality, poverty, and racism- involved the difficult task of changing people’s attitudes and behavior; some of the proposed solutions, such as more tax monies spent in the inner cities and the forced busing of schoolchildren, angered some whites, who resisted further changes; public support of the civil rights movement declined because some whites were frightened by the urban riots and the Black Panthers; by 1990, the trend of whites fleeing the cities for the suburbs had reversed much of the progress toward school integration, and many blacks experienced poverty rates three times that of whites
Reaction to assassination of MLK
The night King died, Robert F. Kennedy was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination; fearful that King’s death would spark riots, Kennedy’s advisers told him to cancel his appearance in an African-American neighborhood in Indianapolis, but he attended anyways to make an impassioned plea for nonviolence; despite his plea, rage over King’s death led to the worst urban rioting in United States history; over 100 cities exploded in flames, including Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago, and Washington D.C.; in June 1968, Robert Kennedy himself was assassinated by a Jordanian immigrant who was angry over Kennedy’s support of Israel
Walk Against Fear
In early June of 1966, tensions that had been building between SNCC and the other civil rights groups finally erupted in Mississippi; James Meredith, the man who had integrated the University of Mississippi, set out on a 225-mile ‘walk against fear,’ planning to walk from all the way from the Tennessee border to Jackson, but he was shot by a white racist and too injured to continue; Martin Luther King, Jr., of the SCLC, Floyd McKissick of CORE, and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC decided to leader their followers in a march to finish Meredith had started; SNCC and CORE members, however, became quite militant as they began to shout slogans similar to those of black separatists who had followed Malcolm X; when King tried to rally the marchers with the refrain ‘We Shall Overcome,’ many SNCC workers, bitter over violence they’d suffered during Freedom Summer- began singing ‘We shall overrun’; police in Greenwood, Mississippi, arrested Carmichael for setting up a tent on the grounds of an all-black high school, and he later showed up at a rally with his face swollen from a beating
Poll taxes
These taxes were often used to keep poor African Americans from voting; although most states had already abolished their poll taxes by 1964, five southern states- Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia- still had these laws in place; however, the Twenty-fourth Amendment made these laws unconstitutional and gave the vote to millions who had been disqualified because of poverty
‘I Have a Dream’ speech
On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000- including about 75,000 whites- converged on the nation’s capital; they assembled on the grassy lawn of the Washington Monument and marched to Lincoln Memorial, where they listened to speakers demand the immediate passage of the civil rights bill; when Martin Luther King, Jr., appeared, the crowd exploded in applause as he appealed for peace and racial harmony
Bus Two ride to Montgomery
Although Alabama officials had promised Kennedy that the riders would be protected, a mob of whites- many carrying bats and lead pipes- fell upon the riders when they arrived in Montgomery; the violence provoked exactly the response the freedom riders wanted; newspapers throughout the nation and abroad denounced the beatings; President Kennedy arranged to give the freedom riders direct support; the Justice Department sent 400 U.S. marshals to protect the riders on the last part of their journey to Jackson, Mississippi; in addition, the attorney general and the Interstate Commerce Commission banned segregation in all interstate travel facilities, including waiting rooms, restrooms, and lunch counters