With the 13th amendment passing in January 1865, African Americans were finally considered to be free and equal to everyone else by law. But just because it was the law, doesn’t mean the people have to abide by it. Schools, bathrooms, libraries, and even water fountains were still “segregated”. Though there were laws that were passed to stop this, nobody abided by them.. African Americans being denied their rights as Americans, attempted to eradicate the problem of segregation and discrimination by boycotts and having their voices heard.
This struggle for racial equality led to the events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sit-ins, the March on Washington, and many more. This political and social injustice struggle is known as the Civil Rights Movement. This was known as one of the most crucial points where the tides would change for civil rights activists when the Civil Rights act of 1964 passed.
One of the most well known events was the movement in Montgomery, Alabama called the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During this time in Alabama, there was an ordinance that required blacks to sit in the rear section of the bus. Also if the seats in the front part of the bus become filled, a color person is suppose to give up their seat for a white person. African Americans were also treated extremely unfairly by the bus drivers. They would sometimes have to go to the front of the bus and pay then exit and re-enter through the back entrance. Also bus drivers would also drive off before a black person could get on. On rare occasions a white bus driver might even become physically violent with a person of color.
These are just a few of what African Americans had to endure. Then in 1955 a 42 year old women named Rosa Parks, decided to take a stand. When front section of the bus become filled a white passenger asked if Rosa could remove herself so that they could sit down.
Rosa of course refused and ignored this command, which led to her being detained. Her arrest had a huge impact on the African American community which lead to a 381 day boycott of buses. Along with the help of the Montgomery Improvement Association led by Martin Luther King Jr, close to 90% of the community boycotted buses.Another way African Americans held protests were in the form of sit-ins with one of the more famous ones being the Greensboro sit-in. This occured in February, 1960 when 4 North Carolina college freshman walked in a F.W.
Woolworth store. These 4 students decided to sit down at the counter even after being told they would not be served. With this action, the 4 boys drew attention to themselves and eventually got the attention of many activists in the community. Within 5 days more than 300 people came to support and participate in this event. Eventually the police came and arrested around 40 students. This angered the community tremendously which lead to the boycotting of food counters.
The impact of this boycott was ridiculous causing around a ? drop of sales to lunch counters. Eventually the all white store owners surrendered after 6 months of this action.The March on WashingtonOn August 28, 1963, an interracial march of 250,000 blacks and whites occurred in Washington D.C.. The march was a political rally protesting the job discrimination and segregation against blacks throughout America. From all over the country and overseas people of all ages, races, and classes gathered to take a part in this march (March on Washington). The march commenced at the Washington monument.
People walked on either side of the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Memorial. Here was where civil rights activists spoke to the thousands of people gathered at the monument about their struggles and ideas about segregation and discrimination. Selections were read, tributes were given, and speeches were articulated, many of which impacted the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement significantly(Official Program for the March on Washington).
Out of all of the speakers that day Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, evidently had the greatest impact out of them all. His speech “I Have a Dream” voiced the idea of a peaceful and racially integrated world. In this world famous speech King declares, ” I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. …I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. “(King)King’s speech describes the American Dream as a place where people will not see you for your race, but for who you are as a person.
He describes how even after the Emancipation Proclamation African Americans are not free. They are bound by the ties of segregation. He explains how he wants to see the day where every man is truly created equal. His speech demands for a change immediately. King’s powerful words became one of the most recollected events of the Civil Rights Movement.