Portal:Civil rights movement

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The civil rights movement portal

The 1963 March on Washington participants and leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial

The civil rights movement in the United States was a decades-long campaign by African Americans and their like-minded allies to end institutionalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation in the United States. The movement has its origins in the Reconstruction era during the late 19th century, although it made its largest legislative gains in the mid-1960s after years of direct actions and grassroots protests. The social movement's major nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience campaigns eventually secured new protections in federal law for the human rights of all Americans.

After the American Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery in the 1860s, the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution granted emancipation and constitutional rights of citizenship to all African Americans, most of whom had recently been enslaved. For a short period of time, African American men voted and held political office, but they were increasingly deprived of civil rights, often under the so-called Jim Crow laws, and African Americans were subjected to discrimination and sustained violence by white supremacists in the South. Over the following century, various efforts were made by African Americans to secure their legal and civil rights (see also, Civil rights movement (1865–1896) and Civil rights movement (1896–1954)). In 1954, the separate but equal policy, which aided the enforcement of Jim Crow laws, was substantially weakened and eventually dismantled with the United States Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling and other subsequent rulings which followed. Between 1955 and 1968, nonviolent mass protests and civil disobedience produced crisis situations and productive dialogues between activists and government authorities. Federal, state, and local governments, businesses, and communities often had to immediately respond to these situations, which highlighted the inequities faced by African Americans across the country. The lynching of Chicago teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi, and the outrage generated by seeing how he had been abused when his mother decided to have an open-casket funeral, galvanized the African-American community nationwide. Forms of protest and/or civil disobedience included boycotts, such as the successful Montgomery bus boycott (1955–56) in Alabama, " sit-ins" such as the Greensboro sit-ins (1960) in North Carolina and successful Nashville sit-ins in Tennessee, mass marches, such as the 1963 Children's Crusade in Birmingham and 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches (1965) in Alabama, and a wide range of other nonviolent activities and resistance.

At the culmination of a legal strategy pursued by African Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 under the leadership of Earl Warren struck down many of the laws that had allowed racial segregation and discrimination to be legal in the United States as unconstitutional. The Warren Court made a series of landmark rulings against racist discrimination, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964), and Loving v. Virginia (1967) which banned segregation in public schools and public accommodations, and struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage. The rulings also played a crucial role in bringing an end to the segregationist Jim Crow laws prevalent in the Southern states. In the 1960s, moderates in the movement worked with the United States Congress to achieve the passage of several significant pieces of federal legislation that overturned discriminatory laws and practices and authorized oversight and enforcement by the federal government. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964), explicitly banned all discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices, ended unequal application of voter registration requirements, and prohibited racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored and protected voting rights for minorities by authorizing federal oversight of registration and elections in areas with historic under-representation of minorities as voters. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. ( Full article...)

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Joseph S. Clark
United States Senator Joseph S. Clark and Senator Robert F. Kennedy toured the Mississippi Delta on April 10, 1967. At the behest of civil rights lawyer Marian Wright, Clark and Kennedy, together with two other Senators, traveled to Mississippi to investigate reports of extreme poverty and starvation. Following a field hearing, they drove from Greenville to Clarksdale, stopping and touring impoverished communities as they went. Deeply disturbed by what they saw, the senators returned to Washington D.C. and began pushing for a series of reforms to alleviate the situation. Extensive media coverage of the event exposed the American public to real instances of malnutrition and starvation. The country was shocked and hunger became an important topic nationwide as people began looking for solutions. Efforts by the government and political action groups ultimately resulted in the problem being largely reduced by the 1970s. ( Full article...)
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Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. Till posthumously became an icon of the civil rights movement.

Till was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. During summer vacation in August 1955, he was visiting relatives near Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region. He spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the white married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Although what happened at the store is a matter of dispute, Till was accused of flirting with or whistling at Bryant. Till's interaction with Bryant, perhaps unwittingly, if at all, violated the strictures of conduct for a black male interacting with a white woman in the Jim Crow-era South. Several nights after the incident in the store, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam were armed when they went to Till's great-uncle's house and abducted Emmett. They took him away and beat and mutilated him, before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river. ( Full article...)

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1963 march on washington.jpg
During the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. — Leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, (August 28, 1963).

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