• Take the Civil Rights movement.
  • Kennedy and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Success was a big part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Third, by fighting for equality, the civil rights movement changed the culture of advocacy and made social justice a legitimate cause.

The civil rights movement gave black Americans legal equality:

The Voting Rights Act (1965) gave all black people the vote.

On September 9, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
106Not only were more blacks registered to vote, but also more ran for and won state and local political office. In 1965, in the 11 original Confederate states, there were just 72 black elected officials. A decade later, 1,587 held office. From 1966 to 1967, the number of blacks serving in state legislatures essentially doubled to 152. The effect was most dramatic in states that were once the strongholds of segregation: in Georgia, African Americans went from 0 to 11 seats in the state legislature in one election cycle. See Congressional Record, House, 94th Cong., 1st sess. (2 June 1975): 16241; John Allan Long, “Negroes Widen Political Power,” 4 November 1967, Christian Science Monitor: 9.

(Virgina Students Civil Rights Committee, first half of 1965.)

In SCLC's view, the only way to substantially change the lives of those at the bottom of society is to win transformative national legislation like the Civil Rights Act. SNCC sees little value in federal laws that are weakly enforced and that, in any case, do not even attempt to address the grinding poverty of the great majority of the Black population. Without strong organizations of their own, poor Blacks will remain powerless regardless of laws passed in Washington. To counter this, SNCC's strategy is deep community organizing to build local political power at the grassroots.


This was a very significant event for the civil rights movement.

The day after W. E. B. Du Bois died in Ghana, 250,000 people descended on the nation's capital, where King's "I Have a Dream" speech took on mythic proportions. Not a month later, white supremacists bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, leaving four little girls dead. Central Intelligence Agency director J. Edgar Hoover identified the attackers but disliked the Civil Rights movement, so he did nothing.

104For an overview and analysis of the legal and social effects of the act, see William D. Araiza, “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” in Major Acts of Congress, Volume 3: 271–278.

The civil rights movement grows.

The early 1960s saw civil rights veterans and union organizers joining students to both train people in the discipline of nonviolence and reproduce sit-ins across the country. Under the inspiration of Ella Baker, the SCLC sponsored the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1961 members of SNCC and CORE joined forces to reignite Freedom Rides in the South as a way to test the 1955 Browder decision that officially outlawed segregated interstate transportation. Students faced an overwhelming flourish of violent attacks by whites. Activists were beaten, riders were caught in burning buses, and it was all broadcast across the world. Freedom Riders had achieved success, but white resistance was resilient.

Music was one of the largest influences in the Civil Rights Movement.

History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Historian, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008. “The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945—1968,” (March 21, 2018)

African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968) - …

98For a concise overview of the bill and its legal and social significance, see Melanie B. Abbott, “Civil Rights Act of 1964,” in Major Acts of Congress, Volume 1: 109–115.

African-American civil rights movement (1954–1968) - Wikipedia

Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, fought hard to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was the most far-reaching and comprehensive civil rights legislation Congress had ever passed. It banned discrimination in public accommodations and the workplace but did not address police brutality or racist voting tests. To fight against black voter discrimination, the SCLC organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The six hundred protestors reached the Pettus Bridge but were pushed back by police violence and tear gas. The attack was dubbed Bloody Sunday. President Johnson was ultimately forced into action, calling on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.