How Successful Was The Civil Rights Movement

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How Successful Was The Civil Rights Movement



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The Civil Rights Movement

Washington — Reconstruction lasted from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, to the Compromise of The major issues faced by President Abraham Lincoln were the status of the ex-slaves called "Freedmen" , the loyalty and civil rights of ex-rebels, the status of the 11 ex-Confederate states, the powers of the federal government needed to prevent a future civil war, and the question of whether Congress or the President would make the major decisions. The severe threats of starvation and displacement of the unemployed Freedmen were met by the first major federal relief agency, the Freedmen's Bureau , operated by the Army.

Three " Reconstruction Amendments " were passed to expand civil rights for black Americans: the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal rights for all and citizenship for blacks; the Fifteenth Amendment prevented race from being used to disfranchise men. Of more immediate usefulness than the constitutional amendments, were laws passed by Congress to allow the federal government, through the new Justice Department and through the federal courts to enforce the new civil rights Even if the state governments ignored the problem.

Ex-Confederates remained in control of most Southern states for more than two years, but that changed when the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the elections. President Andrew Johnson , who sought easy terms for reunions with ex-rebels, was virtually powerless; he escaped by one vote removal through impeachment. Congress enfranchised black men and temporarily suspended many ex-Confederate leaders of the right to hold office. New Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen together with Carpetbaggers new arrivals from the North , and Scalawags native white Southerners.

They were backed by the US Army. Opponents said they were corrupt and violated the rights of whites. State by state they lost power to a conservative-Democratic coalition, which gained control by violence and fraud of the entire South by But from elections in many southern states were increasingly surrounded by violence to suppress black voting. Rifle clubs had thousands of members. In , paramilitary groups, such as the White League and Red Shirts emerged that worked openly to use intimidation and violence to suppress black voting and disrupt the Republican Party to regain white political power in states across the South. Rable described them as the "military arm of the Democratic Party.

Reconstruction ended after the disputed election between Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes and Democratic candidate Samuel J. With a compromise Hayes won the White House, the federal government withdrew its troops from the South, abandoning the freedmen to white conservative Democrats, who regained power in state governments. Following the end of Reconstruction, many blacks feared the Ku Klux Klan , the White League and the Jim Crow laws which continued to make them second-class citizens.

Nicodemus, Kansas , which was founded in still exist today. Many blacks left the South with the belief that they were receiving free passage to Kansas, only to be stranded in St. Louis, Missouri. Black churches in St. Louis to reach Kansas. One particular group was the Kansas Fever Exodus , which consisted of six thousand blacks who moved from Mississippi , Louisiana and Texas to Kansas.

The exodus was not universally praised by African Americans; indeed, Frederick Douglass was a critic. Black men across the South obtained the right to vote in , and joined the Republican Party. The typical organization was through the Union League , a secret society organized locally but promoted by the national Republican Party. Eric Foner reports:. The Union Leagues promoted militia-like organizations in which the blacks banded together to protect themselves from being picked off one-by-one by harassers.

Members were not allowed to vote the Democratic ticket. Later efforts to revive the Union League failed. Black ministers provided much of the black political leadership, together with newcomers who had been free blacks in the North before the Civil War. Many cities had black newspapers that explained the issues and rallied the community. In state after state across the South, a polarization emerged inside the Republican Party, with the blacks and their carpetbagger allies forming the Black-and-tan faction , which faced the all-white "lily-white" faction of local white scalawag Republicans.

They demanded more. Hahn explains the steps they took:. The black-and-tan element usually won the factional battle, but as scalawags lost intra-party battles, many started voting for the conservative or Democratic tickets. The Republican Party became "blacker and blacker over time", as it lost white voters. In , a wave of agrarian unrest swept through the cotton and tobacco regions of the South. The most dramatic impact came in North Carolina, where the poor white farmers who comprised the Populist party formed a working coalition with the Republican Party, then largely controlled by blacks in the low country, and poor whites in the mountain districts.

They took control of the state legislature in both and , and the governorship in The state legislature lowered property requirements, expanding the franchise for the white majority in the state as well as for blacks. In , the Legislature rewarded its black allies with patronage, naming black magistrates in eastern districts, as well as deputy sheriffs and city policemen. They also received some federal patronage from the coalition congressman, and state patronage from the governor. Determined to regain power, white Democrats mounted a campaign based on white supremacy and fears about miscegenation. The white supremacy election campaign of was successful, and Democrats regained control of the state legislature. But Wilmington, the largest city and one with a black majority, elected a biracial Fusionist government, with a white mayor and two-thirds of the city council being whites.

Democrats had already planned to overthrow the government if they lost the election here and proceeded with the Wilmington Insurrection of The Democrats ran blacks and Fusionist officials out of town, attacking the only black newspaper in the state; white mobs attacked black areas of the city, killing and injuring many, and destroying homes and businesses built up since the war. There were no further insurgencies in any Southern states that had a successful black-Populist coalition at the state level.

In , the white Democratic-dominated North Carolina legislature passed a suffrage amendment disenfranchising most blacks. They would largely not recover the power to vote until after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of The great majority of blacks in this period were farmers. Among them were four main groups, three of which worked for white landowners: tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and agricultural laborers.

The fourth group were the blacks who owned their own farms, and were to some degree independent of white economic control. The South had relatively few cities of any size in , But during the war, and afterward, refugees both black and white flooded in from rural areas. The growing black population produced a leadership class of ministers, professionals, and businessmen. Of course, great majority of blacks in urban America were unskilled or low skilled blue-collar workers. During the war thousands of slaves escaped from rural plantations to Union lines, and the Army established a contraband camp next to Memphis, Tennessee. By , there were 20, blacks in the city, a sevenfold increase from the 3, before the war. In , there was a major riot with whites attacking blacks.

Forty-five blacks were killed, and nearly twice as many wounded; much of their makeshift housing was destroyed. Robert Reed Church — , a freedman, was the South's first black millionaire. He founded the city's first black-owned bank, Solvent Savings Bank, ensuring that the black community could get loans to establish businesses. He was deeply involved in local and national Republican politics and directed patronage to the black community.

His son became a major politician in Memphis. He was a leader of black society and a benefactor in numerous causes. Because of the drop in city population, blacks gained other opportunities. They were hired to the police force as patrolmen and retained positions in it until , when imposed segregation forced them out. Atlanta, Georgia had been devastated in the war, but as a major railroad center it rebuilt rapidly afterwards, attracting many rural migrants. From to Fulton County Of which Atlanta was the county seat more than doubled in population, from 14, to 33, In a pattern seen across the South, many freedmen moved from plantations to towns or cities for work and to gather in communities of their own.

Fulton County went from The faculty and students provided a supportive environment for civil rights discussions and activism. Atlanta University was established in The forerunner of Morehouse College opened in , Clark University opened in This would be one of several factors aiding the establishment of one of the nation's oldest and best-established African American elite in Atlanta. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was one of the largest cities north of the Mason—Dixon line, and attracted many free blacks before the Civil War. They generally lived in the Southwark and Moyamensing neighborhoods. By the s, the neighborhoods had a negative reputation in terms of crime, poverty, and mortality.

Du Bois, in his pioneering sociological study The Philadelphia Negro , undermined the stereotypes with experimental evidence. He shaped his approach to segregation and its negative impact on black lives and reputations. The results led Du Bois to realize that racial integration was the key to democratic equality in American cities.

The African-American community engaged in a long-term struggle for quality public schools. Historian Hilary Green says it "was not merely a fight for access to literacy and education, but one for freedom, citizenship, and a new postwar social order. The states did pass suitable laws during Reconstruction, but the implementation was weak in most rural areas, and with uneven results in urban areas. After Reconstruction ended the tax money was limited, but local blacks and national religious groups and philanthropists helped out.

Integrated public schools meant local white teachers in charge, and they were not trusted. The black leadership generally supported segregated all-black schools. Public schools were segregated throughout the South during Reconstruction and afterward into the s. New Orleans was a partial exception: its schools were usually integrated during Reconstruction. In the era of Reconstruction, the Freedmen's Bureau opened schools across the South for black children using federal funds. Enrollments were high and enthusiastic. The school curriculum resembled that of schools in the north.

Many Freedman Bureau teachers were well-educated Yankee women motivated by religion and abolitionism. Half the teachers were southern whites; one-third were blacks, and one-sixth were northern whites. The salary was the strongest motivation except for the northerners, who were typically funded by northern organizations and had a humanitarian motivation. As a group, only the black cohort showed a commitment to racial equality; they were the ones most likely to remain teachers. Almost all colleges in the South were strictly segregated; a handful of northern colleges accepted black students. Private schools were established across the South by churches, and especially by northern denominations, to provide education after elementary schooling.

They focused on secondary level high school work and provided a small amount of collegiate work. The largest dedicated organization was the American Missionary Association , chiefly sponsored by the Congregational churches of New England. They employed teachers and taught 46, students. A handful were founded in northern states. Howard University was a federal school based in Washington. In , Congress expanded the land-grant plan to include federal support for state-sponsored colleges across the South. It required southern states with segregated systems to establish black colleges as land-grant institutions so that all students would have an opportunity to study at such places.

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was of national importance because it set the standards for industrial education. Washington until his death in Elsewhere, in there were few black students enrolled in college-level work. Oberlin College in Ohio was a pioneer; it graduated its first black student in Many provided intellectual and organizational support for civic projects, especially civil rights activities at the local level. Funding for education for blacks in the South came from multiple sources. Much philanthropy from rich Northerners focused on the education of blacks in the South. By far the largest early funding came from the Peabody Education Fund. The money was donated by George Peabody , originally of Massachusetts, who made a fortune in finance in Baltimore and London.

The John F. By , the black population in the United States had reached 8. The school-age population was 3 million; half of them were in attendance. They were taught by 28, teachers, the vast majority of whom were black. Schooling for both whites and blacks was geared to teaching the three R's to younger children. There were only 86 high schools for blacks in the entire South, plus 6 in the North. These 92 schools had male teachers, and female teachers; they taught students in the high school grades. In , there were only blacks who graduated from high school.

Black churches played a powerful role in the civil rights movement. They were the core community group around which black Republicans organize their partisanship. Black Baptist congregations set up their own associations and conventions. In San Francisco there were three black churches in the early s. They all sought to represent the interests of the black community, provided spiritual leadership and rituals, organized help for the needy, and fought against attempts to deny blacks their civil rights.

In the s, the Democrats controlled the state and enacted anti-black legislation. Even though black slavery had never existed in California, the laws were harsh. The Republican Party came to power in the early s, and rejected exclusion and legislative racism. Republican leaders joined black activists to win the legal rights, especially in terms of the right to vote, the right to attend public schools, equal treatment in public transportation, and equal access to the court system. Black Americans, once freed from slavery, were very active in forming their own churches, most of them Baptist or Methodist, and giving their ministers both moral and political leadership roles.

In a process of self-segregation, practically all blacks left white churches so that few racially integrated congregations remained apart from some Catholic churches in Louisiana. Four main organizations competed with each other across the South to form new Methodist churches composed of freedmen. The blacks during Reconstruction Era were politically the core element of the Republican Party , and the ministers played a powerful political role. Their ministers could be more outspoken since they did not primarily depend on white support, in contrast to teachers, politicians, businessmen, and tenant farmers. Pearce , an AME minister in Florida: "A man in this State cannot do his whole duty as a minister except he looks out for the political interests of his people," over black ministers were elected to state legislatures during Reconstruction.

Several served in Congress and one, Hiram Revels , in the U. He served as a pastor, writer, newspaper editor, debater, politician, the chaplain of the Army, and a key leader of emerging black Methodist organization in Georgia and the Southeast. Afterward, he was appointed to the Freedmen's Bureau in Georgia. He settled in Macon, Georgia , and was elected to the state legislature in during Reconstruction.

He planted many AME churches in Georgia. In , he was elected as the first southern bishop of the AME Church after a fierce battle within the denomination. He fought Jim Crow laws. Turner was the leader of black nationalism and promoted emigration of blacks to Africa. He believed in separation of the races. He started a back-to-Africa movement in support of the black American colony in Liberia. AMEZ remained smaller than AME because some of its ministers lacked the authority to perform marriages, and many of its ministers avoided political roles. Its finances were weak, and in general its leadership was not as strong as AME. However it was the leader among all Protestant denominations in ordaining women and giving them powerful roles.

He not only created and fostered his network of AMEZ churches in North Carolina, but he also was the grand master for the entire South of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge , a secular organization that strengthen the political and economic forces inside the black community. In addition to all-black churches, many black Methodists were associated with the Northern Methodist Church. Black Baptists broke from the white churches and formed independent operations across the South, [87] rapidly forming state and regional associations. The great majority of blacks lived in rural areas where services were held in small makeshift buildings.

In the cities black churches were more visible. Besides their regular religious services, the urban churches had numerous other activities, such as scheduled prayer meetings, missionary societies, women's clubs, youth groups, public lectures, and musical concerts. Regularly scheduled revivals operated over a period of weeks reaching large, appreciative and noisy crowds. Charitable activities abounded concerning the care of the sick and needy. The larger churches had a systematic education program, besides the Sunday schools, and Bible study groups. They held literacy classes to enable older members to read the Bible. Private black colleges, such as Fisk in Nashville, often began in the basement of the churches.

Church supported the struggling small business community. Most important was the political role. Churches hosted protest meetings, rallies, and Republican party conventions. Prominent laymen and ministers negotiated political deals, and often ran for office until disfranchisement took effect in the s. In the s, the prohibition of liquor was a major political concern that allowed for collaboration with like-minded white Protestants. In every case, the pastor was the dominant decision-maker. Increasingly the Methodists reached out to college or seminary graduates for their ministers, but most Baptists felt that education was a negative factor that undercut the intense religiosity and oratorical skills they demanded of their ministers.

After , as blacks migrated to major cities in both the North and the South, there emerged the pattern of a few very large churches with thousands of members and a paid staff, headed by an influential preacher. At the same time there were many "storefront" churches with a few dozen members. Deeply religious Southerners saw the hand of God in history, which demonstrated His wrath at their sinfulness, or His rewards for their suffering.

Historian Wilson Fallin has examined the sermons of white and black Baptist preachers after the War. Southern white preachers said:. God had chastised them and given them a special mission — to maintain orthodoxy, strict biblicism, personal piety, and traditional race relations. Slavery, they insisted, had not been sinful. Rather, emancipation was a historical tragedy and the end of Reconstruction was a clear sign of God's favor. God's gift of freedom. They appreciated opportunities to exercise their independence, to worship in their own way, to affirm their worth and dignity, and to proclaim the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Most of all, they could form their own churches, associations, and conventions. These institutions offered self-help and Racial uplift , and provided places where the gospel of liberation could be proclaimed.

As a result, black preachers continued to insist that God would protect and help him; God would be their rock in a stormy land. Kennedy phones King's wife, Coretta, to offer encouragement, while the candidate's brother, Robert Kennedy , convinces the judge to release King on bail. This phone call convinces many Black people to support the Democratic ticket. December 5: The Supreme Court hands down a decision in the Boynton v. Virginia case, ruling that segregation on vehicles traveling between states is unlawful because it violates the Interstate Commerce Act. A mob throws a firebomb onto the bus in which the group near Anniston is riding. Members of the Ku Klux Klan attack the second group in Birmingham after making an arrangement with the local police to allow them 15 minutes alone with the bus.

On May The Birmingham group of Freedom Riders is prepared to continue their trip down south, but no bus will agree to take them. They fly to New Orleans instead. On May A new group of young activists join two of the original Freedom Riders to complete the trip. They are placed under arrest in Montgomery, Alabama. On May President Kennedy announces that he has ordered the Interstate Commerce Commission to enact stricter regulations and fines for buses and facilities that refuse to integrate. Young White and Black activists continue to make Freedom Rides. In November: Civil rights activists participate in a series of protests, marches, and meetings in Albany, Georgia, that come to be known as the Albany Movement. In December: King comes to Albany and joins the protesters, staying in Albany for another nine months.

August King announces that he is leaving Albany. The Albany Movement is considered a failure in terms of effecting change, but what King learns in Albany allows him to be successful in Birmingham. April Birmingham police arrest King for demonstrating without a city permit. April King writes his famous " Letter from a Birmingham Jail " in which he responds to eight White Alabama ministers who urged him to end the protests and be patient with the judicial process of overturning segregation. June President Kennedy delivers a speech on civil rights from the Oval Office, specifically explaining why he sent the National Guard to allow the admittance of two Black students into the University of Alabama.

August James Meredith graduates from Ole Miss. Around , people participate, and King delivers his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Four young girls are killed. November Kennedy is assassinated , but his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, uses the nation's anger to push through civil rights legislation in Kennedy's memory. March , Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam. Among his reasons for the break is Elijah Muhammad's ban on protesting for Nation of Islam adherents. August 4: The bodies of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman are found in a dam. All three had been shot, and the Black activist, Chaney, had also been badly beaten. Its aim is to unite all Americans of African descent against discrimination. July 2: Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of , which bans discrimination in employment and public places.

They ask to represent Mississippi at the convention. Activist Fannie Lou Hamer , spoke publicly and her speech was broadcast nationally by media outlets. Offered two nonvoting seats at the convention, in turn, the MFDM delegates reject the proposal. Yet all was not lost.

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