The Civil Rights Movement In The 1960’s

2392 words - 10 pages



The 1960’s were one of the most significant decades in the twentieth century. The sixties were filled with new music, clothes, and an overall change in the way people acted, but most importantly it was a decade filled with civil rights movements. On February 1, 1960, four black freshmen from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College in Greensboro went to a Woolworth’s lunch counter and sat down politely and asked for service. The waitress refused to serve them and the students remained sitting there until the store closed for the night. The very next day they returned, this time with some more black students and even a few white ones. They were all well dressed, doing their homework, while crowds began to form outside the store. A columnist for the segregation minded Richmond News Leader wrote, “Here were the colored students in coats, white shirts, and ties and one of them was reading Goethe and one was taking notes from a biology text. And here, on the sidewalk outside was a gang of white boys come to heckle, a ragtail rabble, slack-jawed, black-jacketed, grinning fit to kill, and some of them, God save the mark, were waving the proud and honored flag of the Southern States in the last war fought by gentlemen. Eheu! It gives one pause”(Chalmers 21). As one can see, African-Americans didn’t have it easy trying to gain their civil rights. Several Acts were passed in the 60’s, such as Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. This was also, unfortunately, the time that the assassinations of important leaders took place. The deaths of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all happened in the 60’s.
Slavery in the United States existed from the early senventeenth century until 1865. It was put to an end by the combination of the Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and then the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution. Although blacks may have been freed from slavery, it didn’t mean that they were treated the same as everyone else. In 1896, Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court defined separate but equal standards. Rarely was anything equal though. Segregation went on until the landmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education, declared that separate schools based on race was unconstitutional (Microsoft). This case “…became the cornerstone of sweeping changes (Chalmers 17)” because the decade following the Brown decision “…witnessed a complex interplay of forces between black citizens striving to exercise their constitutional rights, the increasing resistance of southern whites, and the equivocal response of the federal government (Robinson 2).”
From 1955 to 1965, boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, marches, and community organizing raised black people’s spirits and expectations, and greatly hurt legal segregation. The weeks that followed the Greensboro sit-in more sit-ins occurred throughout the country. Thousands had taken place by the end of 1960 and many people had often gone to jail...

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