Civil Rights Movement Unit 10
The Presidency of LBJ Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency after the death of President Kennedy and continued Kennedy’s reforms which included improving the nations goods, tax cuts, civil rights legislation and a ‘war on poverty’. LBJ’s “Great Society” propelled to victory in the 1964 election and gave birth to the Job Corps and the Head Start Preschool program which are both active today. By 1966 the country’s attention had shifted to the war in Vietnam and LBJ’s important domestic work would be overshadowed by the Vietnam War.
Lyndon Johnson became the first president to be ‘sworn in’ aboard an airplane. Johnson is pictured below taking the oath.
Fights Against School Segregation In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka the Supreme court ruled that segregated schools (separate, but equal) were illegal. Note: This case overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. When the OrvalFaubus Governor of Arkansas refused to admit nine black students to the all white Little Rock Central H.S., Eisenhower ordered troops to force their admittance. The students became known as the ‘Little Rock Nine’ George Wallace, governor of Alabama in 1963, symbolically blocked the school doors when two black students sought admission to the University of Alabama. National Guardsmen under orders from JFK demanded Wallace step aside.
Hispanic Rights and the Supreme Court Mendez v. Westminster (1946) ruled that the segregation of Mexican and Mexican Americans into special schools only for Hispanic children was unconstitutional. Delgado v. Bastrop (1948) made it illegal to separate Hispanic children within schools because of their ethnicity, but it did allow for separate classes based on language deficiency which schools often used to continue segregation Hernandez v. Texas (1954) ruled that the 14th Amendment should apply to Mexican Americans and all ethnic groups and juries should represent various ethnicities and genders.
Mexican school class photograph, Cotulla, Texas, 1928. The young teacher in the center is future U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, AL bus to a white man. Civil rights leaders lead by Martin Luther King Jr. organized a boycott of city busses and the NAACP appealed Park’s conviction. After nearly a year of boycotting city busses, the city of Montgomery desegregated (integrated) its public transportation system. This type of non-violent protest along with sit-ins and marches were essential to the Civil Rights movement.
Non-violent Resistance to Racism In 1957, a group of African American leaders met in Atlanta, GA to discuss strategies to end discrimination. Led by Martin Luther King Jr. the group named themselves (SCLC) Southern Christian Leadership Conference and vowed to use only nonviolent resistance By April of 1960 over 50,000 students had participated in nonviolent sit-ins and marches to protest segregation. Lester Maddox restaurant owner and future Governor of Georgia was ordered by a federal court to serve black customers, but closed his restaurant rather than comply.
A ‘sit-in’ was a means of peaceful protest to racial discrimination
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. • In 1963 Dr. King was drew national attention by attempting to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. • Protesters were attacked by police using dogs, fire hoses and nightsticks and public outrage over the attacks increased support for the Civil Rights movement. • On August 28, 1963 200,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to bring awareness to the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech was the central moment of the March on Washington. • Dr. King’s most celebrated literary work also came in 1963 while spending 8 days in jail in Birmingham, AL after being arrested for leading an illegal march. • “Letter from Birmingham Jail” defended the breaking of unjust laws and was widely published throughout the US.
Civil Rights and the Law The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first significant changes in federal law since reconstruction and attempted to break down barriers southern states were still using to keep black citizens from voting. In January of 1964 the 24th Amendment to the Constitution banned poll taxes as a condition for voting. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or sex and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed poll taxes or literacy tests and put more aspects of voter registration under federal control. In October 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American Justice in the US Supreme Court.
Civil Rights for Native Americans Native Americans were uniformly granted American citizenship along with their tribal citizenship in 1924. The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 attempted to require tribal law to follow the basic individual rights and freedoms guaranteed in the US Bill of Rights. In 1968 the American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded to address the problems of poverty, housing, treaty issues, and police harassment. In 1969 the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) was formed to fight for Native American rights in public and higher education.
Black Muslims In the 1960’s the Black Muslims grew to around 8,000 members and their leader Elijah Mohammad preached the supremacy of the black race. Black Muslims often changed their names away from what they considered slave names and stressed self discipline and did not smoke, drink, or accept assistance Malcolm Little studied the work of Elijah Muhammad while in prison and converted to the Nation of Islam. In the 1950’s Malcolm X became a leading minister and called for separatism and violent revolution. Malcolm softened his separatist views and broke from the Black Muslims which would lead to his assassination.
Black Power and the Black Panthers Tired of being beaten and intimidated, some Southern blacks began a movement for black separatism called the Black Power movement. Black antipoverty workers, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, created a political organization known as the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers declared that black people must be free to determine their own destiny, and the party set up armed defense groups who often battled with Police.
Violence and MLK’s Assassination Martin Luther King disagreed with the tactics of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, but King embraced the need for economic power. Riots in Watts and Detroit killed nearly 100 people and the nation seemed to be on the brink of becoming two societies; one black, one white. On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King was killed by a sniper (James Earl Ray) on the second floor of his motel in Memphis, TN.
Hispanic Civil Rights and Culture • In 1962 Cesar Chavez, a former field laborer and activist for workers rights, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association along with Dolores Huerta. • Doctor Hector P. Garcia was a Hispanic surgeon and an advocate for Mexican American rights. Garcia was appointed to the US Commission on Civil Rights in 1968 • Founded in 1929 the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was and is the most widely respected Hispanic Civil Rights organization in the United States. • In the 1960’s the Chicano Mural Movement used the walls of buildings to depict Mexican-American culture.
Legislative Reforms of the 70’s • Title IX (9) of the Education Amendments of 1972 stated that no person should be denied participation in any educational program on the basis of sex. • Title IX is most known for it’s impact on high school and college athletics. • In the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) the Supreme court ruled that the Yoder family could remove their children from public schools after the 8th grade based on their religious freedom. (Amish) • In White v. Regester (1973) the Supreme Court ruled that legislative districts may not be drawn in such a way as to exclude or minimize the representation of specific ethnic groups.
Backlash of Desegregation White and black Americans had come to disagree with some desegregation policies. When schools were ordered to desegregate, many black students had to be bussed to white neighborhoods to fill school quotas. Many white people also began to feel they were suffering reverse discrimination, especially in the area of affirmative action which gave preference to minorities and women in admissions to universities and jobs. In Supreme Court case, Regents of the Univ. of California v Bakke, the court upheld the right of a school to adopt an admission plan that included race or ethnicity as an element.
Women in the Workforce The number of women working rose from 25% in 1940 to 35% in 1960. By 1960, women’s wages were 40% lower than men’s wages. In June 1963 President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act for women requiring employers to pay men and women equal for equal work. Not included were women in agricultural, professional or service industries.(about 2/3 of all women workers). Women also received assistance from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the act outlawed sexual discrimination in the workplace.
Increased Activism In June of 1966 Betty Friedan—author of the Feminine Mystic—co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW ). In 1971 Gloria Steinem founded the National Women’s Political Caucus to encourage women to run for political office. In 1972, Congress passed the Education Amendments Act which outlawed sexual discrimination in higher education. In 1973 the case of Roe v. Wadegave women the right to an abortion in their first trimester.