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Lecture 22: Struggle for Equality

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University of Toronto St. George
Erin Black

Struggle for Equality March 20, 2013 I. The Civil Rights Movement at High Tide  Rise of King through Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  Greensboro, NC, 1960. Four black students stage a sit-in at the whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth‟s. Store closed early, but returned with 23 classmates.  End of the week, 1,000 students are supporting the sit-in, across the city.  End of the month, 54 cities involved in sit-ins across the country.  Those at lunch counters had food thrown at them, verbal abuse. Non-violent resistance.  This disruption meant businesses, of their own accord, began to change business policy; protest successful without court intervention.  By Easter, 300 students formed the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee - SNCC.  SNCC agrees with SCLC, but want a younger driving force. Spearheads voter registration drives. 1961, CORE (Coalition on Racial Equality) and SNCC combine.  Freedom Rides. Desegregation was legal, but not enforced, and freedom riders wanted to challenge segregated transit. o Started in DC. o Buses stopping in Rockhill and Atlanta would receive physical and verbal abuse. o Violence waited at each city.  Initially, Kennedy did not support Civil Rights movement, but FR helped force administration to move - moreso Robert than John.  Robert, Attorney General, begins to marshal riders for protection.  Efforts of JFK to leave some distance become more difficult.  1962, James Meredith, black air force veteran, attempts to enroll at University of Mississippi. Had a federal court order that allowed him to enroll. Governor of Mississippi blocks Meredith from enrolling.  Huge riots break out after successful enrollment; students are beating up federal marshals, etc.  5,000 army troopers brought in by Robert.  RK was stunned by the attack.  Eager to force segregation‟s expansion, SCLC begins a massive desegregation campaign.  King picks Birmingham AL deliberately: police brutality, and resistance to desegregation.  King‟s Birmingham letter from jail in 1962.  King predicted a massive violent response, and demonstrators are met with high-powered fire hoses from police. Attack dogs.  All captured by photographers, and by newscasters. Picked up by international news media. International public relations crisis.  Following weeks, over 700 protests happened in the southern US.  George Wallace: o “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” o Resistance to change. Blind faith in segregation. Future presidential candidate in 1968.  State governors defiantly state their intention to maintain segregation.  Kennedy asks the nation whether or not the American people should treat their fellow citizens, as they would like to be treated.  March on Washington, 1963. Slightly over quarter of a million. 60,000 approx. white supporters.  MLK‟s I Have a Dream Speech. Not just civil rights speakers, Bob Dylan gave free concerts, along with Joan Baez.  Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Mississippi Freedom Summer. Teams of volunteers pour into Mississippi to register blacks to vote to the Democratic Party.  Selma to Montgomery March. First three times, violently opposed by those forcing them to turn back.  March succeeds on 3 time, after LBJ sends in National Guard.  Separate piece of legislation that addresses voting is needed.  Power of the activism of the civil rights movement. Especially the King-led non-violent component.  By 1965, protest has changed. Not just legal equality, but economic and social justice. Non-violence increasingly fading into the background. II. Militant Black Activism  Struggle for rights in the urban north and west are different. Focus is less on ending segregation, but on economic opportunity.  North - protesting unequal wages, housing discrimination, and hiring and firing processes. Pickets outside the offices of slumlords.  As blacks began to move into white areas, housing issue leads to violence. Erupts into riots in most major cities. Begins in 1965 for the next three years. o First is in LA, in Watts; SC LA. o Chicago, and Cleveland - 1966. o 1966, 164 urban riots in 167 US cities. o Detroit riot - 50 deaths, property damage of $40 million.  LBJ creates commission to understand riots. From his perspective, has done a lot.  Commission found that the riots stemmed from justifiable anger and grievances.  MLK booed off stage in Chicago. Civil rights movement had generated unmet expectations.  SCLC decided to launch phase II of plan - economic assistance plan.  1967 - SCLC organizes Poor People‟s Campaign.  King assassinated before march takes place.  Marchers evicted from national mall. In 1968, different mood to 1963.  85% of the white population polled thought blacks pushing for too much, too fast - up from 1963.  Black Power Movement  Malcolm X. o Emphasizes racial pride, black autonomy, separation of races; Nation of Islam thought. Black supremacy. Repudiation of non-violence. o „By any means necessary‟ - supported struggle. Unlike King, sees a „nightmare‟. o After mecca trip, alters his mindset. Believes in separation, but less literal and more philosophical - mental colonialism. o Assassinated by Nation of Islam members under jurisdiction of Elijah Mohammed. o Efforts struck a deep cord among blacks in urban northwest.  Stokely Carmichael. o Ends up running SNCC. Non-violence slowly begins to disappear. o Increasingly believes integration enforced white supremacy. o Starts limiting white participation in SNCC, and women. o New catchphrase - black power. Change in tone. o Furthered by James Meredith‟s shooting - planned a one-man march from Memphis to Jackson to demonstrate the ability of black mobility. o First day, a KKK member shoots him in the leg. o After this, increasingly difficult to reconcile sides of civil rights movement.  Black Panther Party. o 10-point plan: each point reiterates how blacks should have control of their own community. o Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Now platoons of young black men, visibly armed. o Feeds into impression of „too much, too soon‟. o Stokely Carmichael leaves SNCC to join panthers. o Shift from community nationalism to revolutionary black nationalism from a
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