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The Civil Rights Movement - Essay Example

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The first signs of the forthcoming civil rights movement can be traced back to the beginning of World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 which banned discriminatory employment policies in defense-related industries contracted by the federal government…
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The Civil Rights Movement Essay
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The Civil Rights Movement

International situation in the late 1950s - early 1960s turned domestic discrimination into literally vital issue that might affect the future of the whole world. World War II triggered the anti-colonial movement in Asia and Africa, and the balance of powers in the world - given approximate parity between the communist and capitalist blocks - depended upon what form of political establishment those new countries would choose. And again, in the 1950s several politicians tried to draw attention of the federal government to the link between discriminatory domestic policies of racial segregation and failure of the American efforts to extend political influence over new Asian and African states. In 1952, Chester Bowles, U.S. Ambassador to India, pronounced a speech at Yale University in which he clearly specified the causes of repeated failures those regions: "A year, or even a week in Asia is enough to convince any perceptive American that the colored peoples of Asia and Africa, who total two-thirds of the world's population, seldom think about the United States without considering the limitations under which our 13 million Negroes are living" (Dudziak , 2000: 77).
Being put on the verge of loosing its international prestige the United States was forced to take serious efforts to improve the situation. The international pressure was accompanied by constantly growing domestic tension: throughout the 1950s black population of the country expressed increasing ability to organize and oppose segregationist laws (Borstelmann, 2002). Thus, in December 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American woman refused to give up her seat in the bus to a White man in Montgomery, Alabama. The incident resulted in a one-day boycott against segregation on Public transportation, and led to emergence of the Montgomery Improvement Association headed by a young minister from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin King. After a year of struggle and numerous arrests, the Supreme Court outlawed segregationist laws of Alabama: the name of Martin Luther King became known all over the world.
Leaders of the emerging African American civil rights movement met in the beginning of 1957, and established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This organization led by King played critically important role in development of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The black suffrage movement spread across the South where African Americans were in the majority but deprived of major political rights. Despite strong resistance of the white politicians, the Congress responded to the suffrage movement by passing the Civil Rights Act in 1957. The Act made it a federal crime to interfere with a citizen's right to vote or be elected, and established the Civil Rights Commission to investigate violations of the law. Another Act passed in 1960 banned interfering with citizen's right to vote (Nowak and Rotunda, 1995).
Gradually, black civil rights movement grew more organized and the civil rights struggle made a significant turn: while in the 1950s civil rights actions, such as Montgomery boycott, were spontaneous, the 1960s saw a series of well-organized actions. Thus, on August 28, 1963, 250 thousand of men, women, and children assembled on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial to show the government and the Congress that time had come ... Read More
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