Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Movement


The humble nature of African-Americans did not last long as they realized the need to fight for their freedom from slavery and have a voice in society. In the 1960s, the civil rights movement changed significantly in terms of its overall goals and strategies. The civil rights campaign had strengthened with time because of greater demand and more aggressive strategies. Even though the support for the civil rights campaign was relatively constant, the goals of the movement were specific and strategies were more effective (Bader & Warkentien, 2016). The struggle was relentless as African-Americans believed it was possible to bring about progress and change in society. The strategies of civil rights activism were diverse ranging from lawsuits in the courts and government lobbying to direct protests and marches. As such, the analysis of the specific strategies used in the civil rights movement will help to understand the goal of the civil rights movement over time.

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Goals of the Civil Rights Movement

The civil rights movement emerged in the 20th century to improve the quality of life for all African-Americans. To raise the quality of life, the activists were working on abolishing racial injustice and banning slavery. Activism helped in outlawing slavery in 1865 whereby the amendment came into effect. The Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln helped to stop the slavery of African-Americans thus improving their quality of life. For example, the African Americans could not be forced into working in the farming plantations without their approval (Fleming & Morris, 2015). They got the freedom to live as American citizens without being subjected to cruel treatment. As a result, the civil rights movement was important in achieving the goal to improve the quality of life for all African-Americans.

The civil rights movement sought to create a legal basis for political equality for all African-Americans. This was possible during the reconstruction period whereby the activists were involved in political affairs with the people in the South. In the South, Jim Crow laws were flourishing despite the abolishment of slavery. The emergence of Jim Crow segregation implied that blacks living in the South would continue living in a poor and unequal environment as the white supremacists denied them their political freedom and rights. Thus, the civil rights actions were useful in fighting against segregation to achieve political equality and freedoms for all blacks living in the South.

Strategies of the Civil Rights Movement

Some of the strategies used in promoting the civil rights movement include civil disobedience, marches, protests, rallies, boycotts, and non-violent resistance. For example, activists boycotted using buses in public transportation as a way of protesting against the racist segregation laws. In August 1963, there was a successful march organized by African-Americans to push for equality in accessing public facilities, quality public education, employment, and decent housing for all people (Andrews, Beyerlein, & Tucker Farnum, 2015). During this march, Martin Luther King Jr gave an inspiring speech on the future of equality and respect for rights in American society. Most importantly, the march also pushed for legislative changes by challenging the segregation laws in the courts. The legal reforms led to the positive decision in Brown’s case in 1954 that marked the end of segregation in public schools. As such, the strategies applied in the civil rights movement were important in promoting equality in American society.

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The first strategy used by the activists involved courts. The civil rights movement relied on the passage of lawsuits to strengthen the legal foundation for equality. Brown’s case decision and ruling determined that separate facilities were unequal; thus, they declared the segregation of the public institutions as unconstitutional. The ruling was a victory for the activists, but they faced a significant challenge because of the resistance from the South (Polletta, 2017). The congressmen in the South issued a statement denouncing the Supreme Court’s ruling and vowed to resist its full enforcement in the South. As such, the federal intervention was necessary to enhance the implementation of the court’s decision.

Conducting non-violent protests and engaging in civil disobedience was a useful strategy for the activists. Most authorities in the South were ignoring the court orders; thus, the civil rights movement shifted its tactics to direct protest actions. The civil rights activists started their activities in 1955 in the Montgomery Bus Boycott whereby Rosa Parks refused to vacate a seat for a white person. This led to the emergence of Martin Luther as the main leader in the boycott that promoted modern civil rights movements (Button, 2014). He also created a good template for the activists’ programs and activities across the nation. Influential religious organizations, student organizations, and labor unions took part in direct mass protests to enhance awareness and increase the intensity of passing the civil rights laws and regulations. The direct mass actions were effective; more so, the increased media coverage of the protests magnified their impact across the country. For example, the harassment of innocent protesters by the law enforcement officers gave the massive actions a purpose and ability to pass their message. Thus, the mass protests and actions were useful in engaging the governments and shaping public opinions on the equality and rights of African-Americans.

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Rise of Black Power

The resistance from the South convinced the activists that the non-violent protests were insufficient; thus, they sought to enhance black power. The activists were worried that the presence of middle-class whites was inadequate. The whites seemed to continue gaining more power even within the civil rights movement. To counter the power of whites, the movement developed more militant ways of civil rights activism. One of the influential supporters of Black Power was Malcolm X who pushed for the self-reliance of blacks, self-defense and enhancing cultural pride in the environment of racial discrimination. However, Black Power gained support after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr (Andrews et al., 2015). The civil rights movement had some achievements including the destruction of the Jim Crow segregation, passing laws to outlaw racial discrimination on the federal level, and increasing the awareness of their cultural heritage. The movement also made a significant contribution to American history.


In summary, the strategies used by the civil rights movement including protests and legal advocacy are relevant in understanding the ability of the campaign to achieve its goals. African-Americans were still discriminated against in society. For example, many black Americans continue facing political brutality and poor access to social care services. The main goal of the civil rights movement was to promote social, economic, and political equality and ensure the freedom of rights of blacks. Black power and non-violent protests rely on the revolutionary rhetoric to inspire blacks to attend the mass campaigns. The protests were usually spontaneous and mainly focused on local goals. For instance, the formation of religious groups was useful for local civil rights actions and activism programs. The awareness programs were also useful in strengthening the black cultural identity and pride. These strategies helped to give the blacks significant control and power to fight for their interests in American society. Therefore, the civil rights movement has made significant progress due to its ability to provide equal rights for black Americans.

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