Respectful Accountable Prepared and Punctual
Rallies, marches, sit-ins and riots defined the atmosphere of the 1960s. The 1960s in America was a time of radical and much needed change. With the help of influential leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maclcom X, and Rosa Parks, the black population of the south gained access to individual rights that they should have enjoyed since 1776 when America's founders declared "all men are created equal". Beginning with the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 Black Americans tasted the sweetness of freedom. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, segregation bowed to the face of integration and black voting.
In Brown v. Education the Supreme Court overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson of separate but equal. Black students were now allowed to attend white schools with better funding and a higher quality of education. James Meredith was the first black student at the University of Mississippi in 1961. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956 was the first organized protest of the Civil Rights Movement. After Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of a bus to a white person, the black community began a non-violent boycott of the Montgomery public buses under the direction of Dr. Martin Luther King. After over a year the buses ended their policy requiring blacks to sit in the back of the bus, the protesters prevailed!
The activists of the 1960s followed the precedent set by the civil rights leaders of the 1950s. Dr. King began marching throughout the South preaching non-violent protests as a course of action to overturn Jim Crow and other segregation policies. His fifty plus arrests did not inhibit him from making an impact on the nation. He delivered his famous "I have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. The Summer of 1964, or the "Freedom Summer" was comprised of 'Freedom Riders' and white college students (many part of CORE) trying to register blacks to vote. Unfortunately, three voter registration volunteers were murdered by men later found to be associated with the KKK. This was only one of many violent acts against civil rights workers. Fortunately, the 'Freedom Summer' of 1964 led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which finally gave blacks the full right to vote and mandated that Federal
officials be sent to areas where there is a low percentage of blacks registered to vote.
America has made great strides in race relations since its founding. Blacks are now able to go to the same schools as whites, drink from the same water fountains as whites and enjoy the same Constitutional rights that whites have enjoyed since 1776. However, many American cities are currently dealing with issues such as poverty and drugs, issues that affect the inner-city black community greatly. The idea of racism has not been erased from American's minds and still many white American's view blacks as an inferior race. This can be overcome; the great strides America has made give hope for the continuation of the crusade against racism. Every
American, black and white, should be inspired by the dedication of the Civil Rights activists. The Civil Rights Movement epitomizes and justifies the idea that one person can make a difference; that one person's dream for justice in America can come true.