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 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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
o Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Now platoons of young black men, visibly
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