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American Civil Rights

Autor:   •  May 26, 2018  •  3,654 Words (15 Pages)  •  752 Views

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David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and Joe McNeil known as the Greensboro Four were four African-American students from North Carolina A&T State University.24 On February 1, 1960, the group went to Woolworth’s all-white restaurant in Greensboro. Although the shop was open to all customers of any colour, the restaurant was exclusive only to white people.25 Knowing these were the terms of the restaurant, the group still went to the counter and placed an order. They were ignored, denied service and then asked to leave. However, the four black students remained seated at the restaurant until closing and went back to their campus to inform others to participate in their sit-in.26 The next day about 20 African-Americans sat at the counter and the protest started gaining recognition. The passive sit down of these four men began one of the first sustained sit-ins and started a youth-led movement to challenge racial injustice and equality in the South. They challenged the racial discrimination policy of the Woolworth store by sitting at the lunch counter and organizing a boycott of the store.27 By February 7, 1960, there were thousands of demonstrators against segregation in the city and the nonviolent protest was broadcast nationwide which led to sit-ins around the country. On July 26, 1960, local stores were in agreement with the integration of having black and white customers served equally.28 The simple yet courageous act of sitting down to eat by four students was the catalyst that ignited a decade of revolt. Within two months of the sit-in movement, its act had spread to 54 cities in 9 states including Nashville and Atlanta. Students had discovered the power of direct action and a new generation came alive to transform the Civil Rights Movement.29 In addition of the sit-in movement, in April 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in North Carolina. SNCC turned out to be one of the leading forces in the Civil Rights Movement. They organized certain events called, “Freedom Rides” all across the South in 1961. The historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech was also organized by SNCC in 1963.30 The 1960 Greensboro sit-in proved to be one of the most effective and successful protests of the Civil Rights Movement. David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and Joe McNeil all formed this movement without attaining legal action or the help of any association. Four years later, it was ruled that segregation of public places was illegal when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed as a result of the Greensboro Four’s sit-in movement. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination of employment and segregation in public areas on race, colour and religion. 31 This allowed black and white people to be treated equally and to be given the same rights as the white community in public areas. Discrimination against the African Americans was lifted and black people were granted the same freedoms as whites; publically. From this time on, people of any colour were permitted to be in the same areas and all types of segregation were finally eliminated; allowing black residents to be respected and treated equally to whites. Their strong perseverance changed segregation in the United States all in the matter of one month.

James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were three young men who were working during the Freedom Summer to register black voters in Mississippi. The civil rights workers were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Nashoba County, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.32 In Meridian, Michael and James worked for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Andrew was one of many volunteers from across the country to work on voter registration and education.33 These men among several others worked on a project where numerous volunteers would register black voters and create “freedom schools” because, in 1962, only 6.7 percent of African-Americans were allowed to vote in the state.34 Volunteers taught in the schools and the curriculum included black history and the philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement. Chaney and Schwerner travelled to the Neshoba County in hope of finding residents to sponsor freedom schools and voter registration drives. They finally made plans for a project in the area after contacting members of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church.35 During this time, the KKK was increasingly making its presence known and was feared among the blacks and whites. They prepared to use violence to fight against the Civil Rights Movement and on April 24, 1964, the group performed 61 cross burnings across the state to show how powerful they were.36 Chaney and Schwerner drove to Oxford, Ohio to participate in the Freedom Summer volunteers training session in mid-June. Meanwhile on June 16, the KKK were looking for the pair and assaulted members of Mt. Zion; burning the church down later in the day.37 Informed of the attack Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman; a new volunteer travelled South to investigate the disastrous incident. On their way back from Philadelphia on June 21, the three men were arrested by Deputy Cecil Price who was supposedly a Klan member for speeding. The group was released the same night and ordered to leave town. On their hasty departure they were pursued and when a gang of men stopped them, they were driven to a secluded area where they were murdered.38 Despite the deaths of the three men as well as many assaults and burnings of other churches, the Summer Project created a large impact. Their actions changed the national political landscape by the initiation of a challenge to the all-white Democratic Party and the registration of several more black voters. In addition, 100,000 black voters were registered in the state and began running for elective offices within two years.39 This eventually led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act which inspired African Americans to a new confidence in political action.40 The act outlawed literacy tests and other assessments that were made to determine who could vote. The Voting Rights Act ensured that any person of any colour had the privilege to vote and eliminated any form of segregation during public votes. Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman changed America through the voter registration drives which were known nationwide and brought attention to the issue of exclusion and discrimination of the black race.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist in the 1950's and 1960's. He had a vision that America and the world could become a society where colour wouldn't impact a person's civil rights. To achieve this goal, he led nonviolent protests to fight for the rights of African Americans and all other people.41 He was involved with many different activities in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, Martin

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