The image of a conservative and prosperous era in the U.S. history of the 1950s is quickly shattered as soon as someone steps outside the cozy suburbs, clean offices, and pervasive culture of mass consumption. It was the time of flourishing of Civil Rights actions in America. In my opinion, the impetus for all movements and activities in the civil rights question was partly the abolition of slavery. This process seemed to proceed extremely tough and slowly, and only after almost a century showed its consequences. People were unprepared and shocked by the freedom and life they obtained and felt the power and need to assert themselves long afterward.
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The event that launched the wave of protests by Southern African-Americans was the success of the long-running efforts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the United States, which was founded in 1909 (Pinder, 2019). In 1954, the Supreme Court conducted Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (Dolezal & Reback, 2017). It overturned the previous half-century’s principle of “separate but equal,” the racial discrimination in schools was deemed unconstitutional.
However, the events of that decade completely overturned the traditional American way of life. Due to the liberal direction of the Supreme Court, which, for the first time in history, has acted as a progressive rather than a conservative governmental institution, Southern activists had a powerful ally in the state. In 1963, Martin Luther King led a march in Washington, culminating in the “I Have a Dream” speech. Many historians consider this speech the most remarkable twentieth century, second only after Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (Goduti, 2017). In many movements that were undertaken, the government’s position or respected politics played a vital role as well. The democracy allowed another point of view, and strict compliance with new laws that protected civil rights made the changes possible.
Although since the early 1970s, there has been some reduction in the scale of mass demonstrations and other militant protests, the causes of rallies have not disappeared but have in many ways become more acute. On the one hand, having made significant concessions compared to the past, the black movement felt empowered. In the course of the struggle, they grew in pride in their people and their ethnic consciousness. On the other hand, the government’s limited nature of these concessions compared to the needs of black Americans created frustration.
Dolezal, R. & Reback, S. (2017). In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World. BenBella Books.
Goduti, P. A. (2017). RFK and MLK: Visions of Hope, 1963-1968. Mc. Farland Company.
Pinder, S. O. (Eds.). (2019). Black Political Thought: From David Walker to the Present. Cambridge University Press.
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