The American Civil War, in which more citizens died than in any other war involving the United States, freed slaves. However, being formally free, African-Americans also continued to be victims of prejudice and discrimination. In the late nineteenth century, the Jim Crow segregation laws came into force, prohibiting voting, restricting movement in transport to special places for Blacks, and belittling part of the population in various ways. In response to humiliation, the Civil Rights Movement arose, the peak of which occurred in the 1950-1960 years. Despite intense pressure from the white population, African-Americans were able to defend their rights predominantly by peaceful methods, the consequences of which are still felt in the modern world.
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Changes in Nation
The dissatisfaction of African-Americans with their position found a way out by the middle of the twentieth century. In 1955, Rosa Parks began the equality movement by refusing to give her seat in a bus to a white person (Bloom, 2019). Her act inspired activists across the country to start peaceful demonstrations and fight for rights. Their actions were dangerous for them and met with considerable resistance. City mayors were trying to stop them, police and ordinary people attacked and beat activists. Nevertheless, they achieved their objectives and attracted the federal government’s attention, pushing it to action.
The Civil Rights Movement entailed consequences and changed the nation not only in the legislature but also at the mentality level. The most significant law was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on such grounds as race, color, gender, and religion (Riches, 2017). It also pushed for the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (Riches, 2017). At the mental level, according to Mazumder (2018), drawing attention to the problem already contributes to the appearance of sympathy, and peaceful methods are more effective in contrast to aggression. Thus, changes in the consciousness of society began, which paved the way for tolerance.
Civil Rights Act’s Effect on Minority Groups
African-Americans were not the only discriminated parts of the population that were inspired to fight for equality by the 1960s. For example, a significant breakthrough in protecting their rights and dignity was made by immigrants from Mexico. Their first victories were in the courts, where they managed to recognize the segregation of children as unconstitutional and extended the protection of the fourteenth amendment (Corbett et al., 2014). The movement led by Caesar Chavez in defense of migrant workers also gained fame and influence. After several years of struggle by ignoring grape harvesting, which was performed mainly by migrants, employers increased wages and improved working conditions (Corbett et al., 2014). Thus, the African-American movement influenced various oppressed nations living in the US.
The achievements of all these movements affected the future of other minorities. Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ban on discrimination also expanded to other oppressed groups – sexual minorities. Moreover, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted, protecting the population’s rights (Riches, 2017). These laws laid the foundation that all citizens could get jobs, find housing, get an education, vote, and have other rights and opportunities on equal terms.
Tactics and Strategies used by Activists and Modern World
The Civil Rights Movement needed to choose the right tactics to be heard and put itself in less danger. Therefore, they preferred non-violent strategies such as protests, marches, freedom rides, sit-ins, or boycotts (Corbett et al., 2014). Activists had to endure ridicule, beatings, pouring coffee and ketchup on them, and other types of humiliation. Some representatives of the movement proposed more severe and aggressive methods of struggle, but the leaders insisted on non-violence. For example, in a famous speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said: “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds” (para. 8). Cruelty prevailed on the part of opponents of the movement, and African-Americans only occasionally showed violence, the main surge of which occurred after the murder of King Jr.
In today’s world, ethnic and racial conflicts often turn into disturbances to attract attention. However, their scale, even remaining the same in the number of people present, is not so impressive. The reason is that previously it was much more difficult to unite the crowd – the idea had to be strong so that while it was spreading, it remained relevant and inspired people. In the modern world, thanks to technology, a protest can be organized in a few hours for any reason.
as little as 3 hours
Nevertheless, the tactics of non-violence have shown effectiveness, and its consequences are observed to this day. According to Mazumder (2018), a more liberal, open, and tolerant population lives in areas where protests were held.
The author notes that activists can spread influence through persuasion, psychological, or informational channels during demonstrations (Mazumder, 2018). Clayton (2018), in turn, comparing the Civil Rights Movement and modern Black Lives Matter, argues that the latter should learn from the historical movement. Contemporary activists focus on opposing the police, while in the 1960s, there was a call for inclusion – to be a single nation and share human rights. Thus, although such unique forms as sit-ins or rides no longer may have such effectiveness, their general meaning of non-violence should be taken into account in the modern world.
Ideas Relevance Today
Although segregation laws have been repealed, racial discrimination is still present in American society. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement mentioned earlier arose in response to law enforcement bias against the African-American population, which resulted in several murders. Solomon et al. (2019) report new cases of deprivation of the right to vote in the modern world. Moreover, not only African Americans but also women, Hispanics, Indians, and members of sexual minorities tell about various cases of discrimination. For these reasons, the problem of inequality is still serious and requires peaceful ways of fighting.
Civil Rights Movement Impact on Diversity in America Today
Racial discrimination is still prevalent in society, but the Civil Rights Movement’s impact on the modern world cannot be underestimated. Its representatives peacefully appealed to a common identity and beliefs and built a special relationship in society (Mazumder, 2018). They were able to show that excluding a group of people because of skin color is incorrect, convincing a significant part of the population. Thanks to this, American society is diverse and welcomes other cultures and worldviews. Moreover, the example of the movement inspires the continuation of the struggle and gives hope for its success.
In conclusion, the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s considerably changed the nation by defending equality at the legislative and public levels. The activities of representatives of the movement spread not only among African-Americans but also inspired other minorities to protect their rights. Equality has been fought and continues to be fought not only by national minorities but also by sexual ones. The Civil Rights Movement took advantage of non-violent methods of struggle, which are more effective than aggressive, and this fact should be carefully considered by modern activists. Although modern society is more diverse and tolerant, racism and discrimination persist in it.
Bloom, J. M. (2019). Class, race, and the civil rights movement (2nd ed.). Indiana University Press.
Clayton, D. M. (2018). Black lives matter and the civil rights movement: A comparative analysis of two social movements in the United States. Journal of Black Studies, 49(5), 448-480. Web.
Corbett, P. S., Janssen, V., Lund, J. M., Pfannestiel, T., Waskiewicz, S., & Vickery, P. (2014). U.S. history. OpenStax.
King, Jr., M. L. (1963). I have a dream. American Rhetoric. Web.
Mazumder, S. (2018). The persistent effect of US civil rights protests on political attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 62(4), 922-935. Web.
Riches, W. (2017). The civil rights movement: Struggle and resistance (4th ed.). Macmillan International Higher Education.
Solomon, D., Maxwell, C., & Castro, A. (2019). Systematic inequality and American democracy. Center for American Progress. Web.