- Bus Boycotts not new (tactics used successfully in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1953 – blacks gained bus seating on first come, first served basis)
- Limited victory – apart from buses rest of Mont’ remained segregated
- De facto change was slow – see transport – Civil Rights Act of 1964 was necessary to give the federal government the power to enforce desegregation of transport in South
Freedom Rides (1961: CORE … + SNCC)
Over the spring and summer of 1961, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of "," as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.
- Decided on tactics - travelled South testing Supreme Court rulings against segregation on interstate transport (see – MORGAN v. VIRGINIA, 1946)
- Small group (black & white) – courage – vicious attacks – clubs & chains, buses burnt in Alabama
- Attorney General (head of justice dept in fed.gov) Robert Kennedy enforced the supreme court rulings on desegregated interstate travel (demonstrates importance of federal intervention)
- Nothing new? Eg - Tactic first used in 1947 (but not successful then)
Little Rock (1957: 9 students, NAACP, President Eisenhower)
In a formerly all-white Central High School learns that is easier said than done. Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor . sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the "."
STUDENTS (eg – Melba Pattillo – inspired by bus boycott & Thurgood Marshall)
- Courage – abuse, physical attacks
- Encouraged students – asked them to be ‘guinea pigs’ to test Little Rock’s compliance with BROWN.
- Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas (making stand to get support of whites for re-election) sent in Arknansa National Guard to surround school and keep black students out. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to protect black students .
- Turning Point? Role of federal gov – departure from reluctance of Presidents to display federal power in the South to protect black citizens.
- Some cities (eg – Atlanta) desegregated to avoid Little Rock style violence. Some (slow) moves towards desegregation.
- Images of black children being harassed influenced white opinion (media – TV highlighted issue)
- Made blacks realise that they needed to do more than rely on court decisions
- Faubus re-elected 4 times! Closed the schools rather than reintegrate – Eisenhower did not respond. (1960 before Central High was integrated and 1972 before Little Rock’s schools were fully integrated)
- Eisenhower – said he was enforcing the law NOT supporting integration – refused to endorse BROWN
- Local and national authorities were not keen to enforce BROWN - eg – 1960 – only 6.4% blacks went to integrated schools in South (2% in Deep South)
Sit-ins (1960: SNCC … + King /SCLC, CORE)
In ) from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South. Six months later the original four protesters are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter. Student sit-ins would be effective throughout the Deep South in integrating parks, swimming pools, theaters, libraries, and other public facilities.
- 4 black college students in Greensboro, North Carolina (refused to leave all-white Woolworth’s café) – then other students took up and retained the seats - forced café to close – spreads across South (involves 70,000 students)
- Nb: SCLC had achieved little in 3 years since MBB. Initially King had nothing to do with sit-ins
- King persuaded by students to join them in Atlanta
- Helped to erode Jim Crow Laws (eg – Woolworths desegregated all its lunch counters by end of 1961, eg – 150 cities soon desegregated public places)
- Media coverage raised awareness of the level of persecution – increase support for CR movement (nb – especially white students – worked together with blacks for change)
- Shifted focus of CR movement from litigation to mass direct action. Provided a model for protest – showed students they could change the political process.
- Led to establishment of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) – from 1961-64 organised grassroots activism (see – Albany, Georgia, Lowndes County, Mississippi, Freedom Rides)
- Involved women in CR movement on a greater scale (eg – Ella Baker – helped shape SNCC’s goal – politicisation of local communities & empowerment of ordinary people)
- Nothing new? Eg - Sit-ins pioneered in Oklahoma & Kansas in 57/58 (Greensboro = media attention)
Albany Campaign (1961-62: SNCC, grassroots activists … + King/SCLC, NAACP)
- Organised students from (black) Albany State College, Georgia in sit-ins in Albany bus station (which had ignored order to desegregate). Hundreds of freedom riders arrested.
- Blacks boycotted white businesses because city authorities refused to desegregate (nb - despite pressure from Robert Kennedy)
- Invited to join by older members of the Albany Movement – led a march & came to promising agreement with city authorities to desegregate (after he left however they went back on the agreement)
- Interstate terminal facilities were desegregated in Albany
- More black voters allowed to register
- Black community in the area had been mobilised and lost its fear of white power
- Showed how SNCC’s ‘jail not bail’ strategy could bring courts and jails to a standstill
- Influenced tactics in Birmingham (eg – unwise to negotiate with white authorities, jail not bail, power of economic boycotts – so that white businessmen would push for change)
- Desegregation remained – city closed the parks, sold swimming pool & refused to desegregate the schools.
- Some black violence achieved bad publicity (whilst local police chief carefully avoided violence – thus stopping need for federal intervention)
James Meredith & the University of Mississippi (1962: Meredith & President Kennedy)
In 1962 becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots surrounding the incident cause President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops.
- Son of sharecropper who had served in US Air Force – Applied for Uni of M
- Legal aid to JM – supreme court ruled in their favour
- Sent 500 marshals to protect JM from racist mob (who clashed with the marshals – 2 people shot & one third of marshals injured). Then sent in Mississippi National Guard & US Army regulars
- Meredith able to enrol – inspired other blacks to do the same
Birmingham (1963: King/SCLC … + Grassroots)
In 1963 Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala.; he writes his seminal "," arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws.
During civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators. These images of brutality, which are televised and published widely, are instrumental in gaining sympathy for the civil rights movement around the world.
- Deliberate choice to campaign in B (white divisions - extreme views of white racists versus white businessmen who felt racism held city back, SNCC & NAACP inactive there … therefore no divisions, hot tempered Public Safety Commissioner – ‘Bull’ Connor)
- Careful planning (led by King) & skilful manipulation of media – eg – knew his arrest would increase media attention, filling of jails, use of black school children (some as young as six, 500 in custody)
- Inspirational ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ [see DOC 1] (written partly on toilet paper)
- Got King released from prison (had been called by Coreta King)
- Robert Kennedy sent in Justice Dept representatives to bring both sides together in prep for changes to segregation
- First time King had really led the movement
- Negotiations between SCLC & city authorities led to reforms – (protesters released from jail without charge, large department stores desegregated, racial discrimination in employment to be ended)
- Use of media showed America the ugly side of segregation – increased support from northern whites for CR movement
- Led to increase in donations to SCLC
- Crucial in persuading Kennedy administration to push the CR Bill that became the Act of 64.
- Inspired further demonstrations in the South.
- Little changed in B (eg – bomb killed 4 black girls attending Sunday School – 3 whites arrested but freed because of lack of evidence). Also, schools and some public places remained segregated.
March on Washington (1963: King/SCLC … + NAACP, CORE, SNCC, Grassroots)
In 1963 more than 200,000 people join the . Congregating at the Memorial, participants listen as Martin Luther King delivers his famous "" speech.
- Brought organisations together – first major collaboration
- 250,000 people = great success (nb – a quarter were white – demonstrated increasing white support for CR) – impressed TV audiences across the world –increased/strengthened white support for CR legislation
- Memorable speech [see DOC 2] – inspired others and helped to change attitudes (particularly white America – see refs to Dec of Independence & Old Testament)
- March aimed to encourage passage of CR bill and government to help black employment.
- Over-exaggerated because of speech? Kennedy already acting because of Birmingham – therefore catalyst rather than turning point?
- Appointments – put pressure on civil service to employ blacks (eg – 40 blacks appointed to top posts – eg – White House press secretary, 5 black federal judges incl. Thurgood Marshall
- Robert Kennedy – as Attorney General in charge of Justice Dept – brought 57 suits against illegal violations of black voting rights in South
- Created the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – aimed to ensure equal employment opps for federal employees and in companies that had contracts with gov.
- Supported University integration at Mississippi (Meredith, 1962 ) & Alabama in 1963
- Made several gestures that publicised his commitment to racial equality [see TV speech]
- Civil Rights Bill * - Feb 1963 – attempt to guarantee desegregation in public places, to help blacks to use their vote & to help black workers (but bill got stuck in Congress until pushed through by President Johnson after JFK’s assassination)
- JFK moved slowly on CR (narrow election victory – most US voters wanted gradual integration)
- EEOC – only limited success – failed to bring about a significant increase in black employment in federal agencies
- Did nothing to end discrimination in housing (even though had promised to do this in election campaign)
- Black activism pushed Kennedy further and faster than he had intended – eg – CR Bill influenced by increasing Southern violence in Birmingham (CR movement more important in initiating change, President reactive rather than proactive)
Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964: SNCC, Grassroots)
- Worked at local community level –eg – established Freedom Schools to educate would-be voters and get them registered (1960 – only 5% Mississippi blacks could vote)
- Lived in fear of white extremists [see film – Mississippi Burning] nb – no protection from federal gov.
- Organised 1963 ‘Freedom Vote’ (mock election for disenfranchised blacks) & ‘Freedom Summer’ in 1964 (voter registration drive) – mainly led by white Northern volunteers
- Lots of media attention (especially after murder of three young activists – 2 of whom were white)
- Politicised many poor blacks (especially women)
- The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) – sent delegation to the Democratic Party National Convention in autumn of 1964 – with disappointing results
Selma (1965: King/SCLC … & SNCC )
In 1965 in ) blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade. Fifty marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by the media. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the voting rights act five months later.
- Wanted to make Selma a symbol of the resistance to CR in Deep South. Thought Selma’s sheriff Jim Clark would react brutally – therefore saw opportunity for media attention.
- Led would-be voters to register at Selma County Court (despite federal judge’s ruling – no registrations)
- SCLC & SNCC organised march from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama’s state capital) to publicise need for a Voting Rights Act. March attacked by state troopers (at Edmund Pettus Bridge) – labelled ‘Bloody Sunday’.
- President Johnson asked King to call off next March. 2nd march went ahead - King got marchers to approach state troopers but then retreated at bridge (did not tell SNCC about this and they felt betrayed). 3rd march did reach Selma (numbers during 5 day march grew from 8000 to 25,000)
- Numbers involved showed support for Voting Rights Act
- Media attention – brutality towards campaigners. National criticism of Selma’s whites and local authorities.
- Inspired other marches (in support) in cities such as Chicago, Detroit and New York.
- Crucial influence on President Johnson & Congress – led to 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- Selma’s activists felt betrayed by withdrawal of SCLC (felt being used – SCLC raised money, made headlines … then left) – worsened divisions in CR movement
1964 Civil Rights Act (President Johnson – pushed this through despite considerable opposition in Congress). This was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provided the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation.
- Act gave the federal gov the legal power to end de jure segregation in the South (de jure = defined in law, de facto = how something happens in practice)
- Prohibited discrimination in public places
- Further school desegregation,
- Established an Equal Employment Commission.
- Little change in black voting in South (eg – Selma – only 23 registered to vote, despite SNCC campaign)
- Still poverty and desegregation
1965 Voting Rights Act (President Johnson)
Congress passeed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.
- Disallowed literacy tests, established federal registrars. Blacks could vote without fear.
- Dramatic effect in South (eg – By end of 1966 only four of the old Confederate States had fewer than 50% of their eligible blacks registered. By 1968 Mississippi up to 59%.)
- Increased political power/status of blacks – eg – blacks elected to office increased dramatically (six fold from 1965 – 1969) Eg – Robert C. Henry first black mayor of American city – Springfield, Ohio (1966), Carl B. Stokes elected Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio (1967)
Overview of Johnson Administration
- Education – speeded up desegregation – eg - Higher Education Act (1965) – gave significant aid to poor black colleges. Gave federal subsidies to Southern districts that were cooperative on school desegregation – numbers of black students attending segregated schools tripled.
- Health Care reforms for the poor help blacks – reduced black infant mortality
- Housing – 1968 Fair Housing Act – housing discrimination prohibited
- Appointments – used black advisers, Thurgood Marshall became the first black Supreme Court judge
- Economic status – legislation paved way for a richer black middle class. Black unemployment decreased (by 34%) as did percentage of blacks below the poverty line (by 25%).
- Plans to further help blacks hit by Watts riots and Vietnam war (cost of war and Johnson angered by King’s anti-war stance)
- Housing – 1966 Congress rejected civil rights bill (one aim of which was to prohibit housing discrimination). Eventual 1968 Housing Act difficult to enforce due to white resistance. Also, Act did not establish an enforcement agency. Fines for discrimination were low (max fine = 1000 dollars – not an effective deterrent)
- Riots from 1965-68 (nearly 50,000 arrests) show misery of ghetto life – eg - 8% whites below poverty line, 30% blacks –eg – 18% whites in sub-standard housing, over 50% non-whites –eg – black unemployment twice that of whites .
1965 Watts Riots (Grassroots)
- Watts Ghetto of Los Angeles – black mobs set fire to shops (because of conditions and police discrimination)
- KING asked to visit by local churchmen – shocked by what he saw
- Changed King’s ideas – saw economic problems (as opposed to solely political & right to vote) – King began to define ‘freedom’ in terms of economic equality – started to argue for a more equal distribution of wealth
- Caused significant white backlash –reduce support for CR movement from white middle class, fears of black militancy
1967 Newark – 26 died
1967 Detroit - 40 died, 5000 arrested, 5000 made homeless
Chicago (1966: King/SCLC … + Grassroots)
- Realised struggle in South had done little to improve conditions of blacks in North & wanted to do something to reduce tendency towards violence & radicalism amongst blacks (see Watts 65)
- Chose to focus on discrimination in housing – made it difficult for blacks to move out of ghetto slums
- 500 black marchers entered Cicero (white working class neighbourhood) - abuse from residents – rock hits King and made national press (led to greater protection of marchers from police)
- King left Chicago in Autumn – SCLC’s Jesse Jackson left in charge of ‘Operation Breadbasket’ – successfully used economic boycotts to help increase black employment
- Some divisions between SCLC and local activists – small turn out for rally in July (30,000 rather than hoped for 100,000
- Riots – caused 2 million damage
- Threat of black marches into white areas led to Mayor Daly agreeing to promote integrated housing
- 4 million federal grant to improve Chicago housing
- Inspired community action (see ‘Operation Breadbasket’)
- Most blacks remained stranded in the ghetto
- Voter registration drive had little impact
- Divisions increased in CR movement – many turn to black power because disillusioned by lack of impact in practice
- Led to white backlash – angered by violence of ghetto riots, little sympathy for tactics (ie – marches in white neighbourhoods)
Meredith March (1966: King/SCLC, SNCC)
- Planned 220 mile walk from Memphis to Jackson (Mississippi’s capital) to encourage blacks to vote. Shot on second day – unable to walk – cause taken up by …
- Came with 20 others from Chicago and continued walk
- Also joined march – included leader – Stokely Carmichael (nb – SNCC & CORE had become more militant after lack of protection from federal government in Mississippi , black power agenda & did not want white participants – King did)
- Divisions between SCLC & SNCC (NAACP no longer prepared to work with either)
The Poor People’s Campaign (1968: King/SCLC)
- Aimed to create a coalition big enough to tackle social & economic problems he had identified in Chicago (include Mexicans, American Indians and poor white people) – wanted better standard of living for poor and end to ghettos
- Tactics would be nationwide civil disobedience – occupy gov buildings, boycott businesses, march on Washington
- Marked a move towards a more radical approach from MLK
- By March 1968 had gained support of many Labour unions & religious groups (had begun to raise money needed to run campaign)
- No support from Johnson
- Lost direction after assassination of King in 1968
NATION OF ISLAM & ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
(a) Beliefs – What motivated them? Who influenced them? What did they want to achieve?
- EM claimed he was a prophet of Allah. Em’s teachings different to orthodox Islam – claimed that Allah created people black and other races were created by an evil scientist.
- Racial separatism – keep blacks and whites separate - setting up of an independent black republic within US or a ‘return’ to Africa.
- Self-determination – economic self-help (during depression rejected social security & gov handouts). Set up own stores, restaurants, farms and bakeries.
- Avoidance of any social, religious or political contact with whites
- Self-Improvement - Strict code of personal conduct – prohibited extra-marital sexual relations, alcohol, tobacco, drugs.
- Supported armed self-defence against white aggression.
(b) Methods – How did they protest? What did they do? Who did they target? Who supported them?
- 1930s/40s – support grew slowly – mainly black lower class
- Published own history books – stressed the glories of the African past
- Rejected the term ‘negro’ – favouring term ‘Afro-American’ & discarded black surnames as a mark of the slave past (substituted with ‘X’)
- Targeted criminals, delinquents and the black underclass (unlike other CR organisations
(c) Impact – Was it positive or negative? Did they help or hinder the civil rights movement? Did they cause divisions that damaged the movement? Did they improve the status of black Americans?
- Influential in ghettos – inspired people with message of racial pride & economic self-help
- ‘Saved’ many criminals from becoming repeat offenders and life of drugs/prostitution
- Gave rare employment opportunities to blacks – created many businesses
- Some of NoI solutions to black problems = unrealistic (eg – return to Africa or separate state in US)
- Teachings increased divisions between blacks and white & between blacks - eg – called MLK an Uncle Tom, alientated some black power activists by putting down non- Muslim African culture (fashion, afro haircuts etc) and portraying Africa as uncivilised.
- After assassination of MX, NoI lost support – some moved to BP movement
THE BLACK PANTHERS (Huey P. Newton & Bobby Seale)
- HPN & BS = students at College in Oakland, California – borrowed the name & emblem of the Lowndes County independent party
- Influenced by writings of MX (& Che Guevara & Mao Tse-Tung)
- Ideas based on revolutionary nationalism & self-defence. Black paramilitary uniform.
- Campaigned for .. self-determination, full employment, decent housing, end to exploitation, exemption from military service, end to police brutality, reparations to black Americans as compensation for slavery, black jury to trial blacks
- Early activities – monitoring behaviour of Oakland police dept
- May 1967 – to show their opposition to proposed state legislation banning carrying of loaded weapons, members carried weapons into the California State government building (led to negative media coverage and scared many)
- Weekly newspaper – ‘The Black Panther’
- By 1968 local chapters across the country – these initiated free breakfast programs for schoolchildren, free health clinics, black liberation schools & ongoing attempts to bring about civilian control of police depts
- Impact – Did they help or hinder the civil rights movement?
- Popular amongst America’s young black working class.
- Emphasis on self-help
- Set up ghetto clinics to advise on health, welfare and legal rights. These were successful – eg – free health care (emergency medical care, contraception advice, tests for sickle cell anemia)
- Liberation schools provided a focus on black history and inspired students – led to greater sense of identity and self-confidence.
- Exposed police brutality
- Never more than 5000 members (mainly in major cities)
- Involved in crime and sought confrontation with (and advocated killing of) police.
- Decrease support for CR movement – scared many & negative media coverage. Decrease in white sympathy for CR cause (nb white sympathy had been a key factor in the progress made by earlier CR activists)
- Targeted and destroyed by police & FBI
STOKELY CARMICHAEL & (the radicalisation of) SNCC & CORE
- Members of SNCC were impatient at slow progress towards equality. Angered by lack of federal protection in Mississippi (1964 Freedom Summer). Turned to more militant leader = SC = Stokely Carmichael. CORE also turned to a more militant leader = FM = Floyd McKissick (replaced James Farmer).
- Spring 1966 – SNCC position paper argued against white participation & need to form own institutions (eg – political parties, economic co-ops, credit unions)
- SC popularised the Black Power slogan & challenged MLK interracial strategy during the Meredith March through Mississippi. BP slogan = radical change in CR movement. For some BP meant black supremacy/black domination and violence. For others it was about political power, economic power and a new image of black Americans.
- Emphasis on black pride and black culture. Black college students successfully campaigned for the introduction of black studies programmes.
- 1966 – SNCC helped to establish - Lowndes County Freedom Organisation – an all-black political party (logo = Black Panther) - shows effective organising in black communities. Lowndes = hard-core segregationist stronghold between Selma & Montomery (in Alabama)
- SNCC ran ‘Free D.C’ movement in Washington – campaigned for home rule for black community – by end of 1966 black citizens could elect own school boards & community policing improved.
- In Mississippi (1965-76), working with local churches, SNCC set up the Child Development Group of Mississippi – set up 85 Head Start Centres to support young children.
- SNCC – Dec 1966 – voted to expel whites. SC replaced by Henry ‘Rap’ Brown in May 1967 – argued for armed self-defence. Rap Brown yrged a black audience in Cambridge, Maryland to take over white owned stores in the ghettos, using violence if necessary. Soon after race riot in Cambridge. By Feb 1968 SNCC had effectively merged with Black Panthers – SC became Prime Minister.
- CORE convention– 1966 – endorsed black power and declared non-violence inappropriate if black people needed to defend themselves. By summer 1968 whites excluded.
Impact –Did they help or hinder the civil rights movement?
- Raised morale of many black Americans – increase in black pride, self-esteem and identity. Raised aspirations of many black people. Emphasis on self-help.
- Establishment of courses on black history & culture in education
- Kept ghetto problems on the political agenda
- Ill defined ideas (eg – unrealistic – talk of violence and separate state with US) and poorly organised
- When SNCC & CORE became more radical they lost crucial funding from white pop
- Some BP supporters were openly sexist – female supporters of BP turned to feminism.
- At first preached orthodox Black Muslim doctrine. Later thought that NoI methods = too conservative and left in 1964. Did not preach devine deliverance from racial oppression – instead – argued the need for blacks to deliver change themselves.
- Thought that whilst Afro-Americans should remain in America physically, they should ‘return’ to Africa culturally and spiritually.
- Condemned white racism and very critical of CR movement’s stress on non-violence and integration. Asserted right of self-defence (urged supporters to form ‘rifle clubs’ to defend their community against white vigilante violence and police brutality), supported voter registration drive.
- Black Nationalism … political self-determination ( black people should govern themselves) & economic self-determination (black people should control the economy within their community)
- Tour of Middle East & African states changed his views (saw all colours together at Mecca) – & just before his death he began to appeal to non-racist whites.
- Frequent guest on TV & radio shows and college campuses. Raised awareness through speeches of major issues (that went deeper than desegregation) – eg – inadequate housing, high rents, inferior health care & educational facilities.
- 1964 – formed Organisation of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) – established cultural centre in Harlem – offered workshops in the arts & Afro-American history. OAAU organised voter registration campaigns, social programmes to help drug addicts, rent strikes where housing was inadequate, encouraged re-education (published new textbooks) BUT … never more than 900 members – not an activist movement – more for publicity and education.
- Autobiography (published after his death) = perhaps his greatest achievement – influenced many.
- Became a role model for black youth (showed you could achieve anything and rise up from lowly background
- Instilled positive sense of racial identity among northern urban blacks – need for racial pride & black control of black communities and local institutions (these ideas became increasingly popular after his death)
- Skilled public speaker – able to strike a chord with his audiences. Voiced concerns of a younger black generation living in Northern cities. Raised awareness of plight of blacks living in northern ghettos (eg – housing & health, economic plight). Showed that the CR movement had yet to meaningfully change lives of black Americans living in ghettos.
- Source of ideas for black militants. Encouraged black leadership from the grass roots and local organisations. Inspired new generation of black leaders – eg – Stokely Carmichael. Many of the aims of the OAAU became central to Black Panthers.
- MX claimed he deliberately put forward the extremist position in order to make King’s demands more acceptable to the white pop.
- His insistence on separatism and identification with Africa was at odds with integrationism & ‘Americanism’ of CR movement
- Did nothing but verbalise? A matter of posture … with no action?
- Never established organisations as effective or long lasting as NAACP or SCLC.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (& SCLC) … Part A: A United Movement (1955-64)
- Influenced by Gandhi – philosophy of non-violent resistance to injustice
- Believed in Christian activism
(1) Leader of Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) during Montgomery Bus Boycott (nb – surprised to gain leadership – had refused earlier offer to lead the NAACP in Mont).
- Event made him a national figure. Pushed for orderly protest. United and inspired the movement. Able to get messages across clearly to the masses and inspire them. Courageous (arrested and house bombed). Method of non-violent resistance attracted national support. Boycott demonstrated the efficiency of non-violent direct action. Inspired student activists – see ‘sit-in’ movement
- BUT … SCLC’s aim of spreading the Montgomery example by supporting similar boycotts had little success. MIA did little to challenge other forms of segregation.
(2) Helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – became leader. Aims to use non-violent and direct action protests to force the federal government to intervene in the CR struggle.
(3) Sit-ins – inspired by M Bus Boycott.
(4) Freedom Rides – did not participate directly
(5) Albany Campaign – failed (partly because of divisions between SCLC, SNCC and local blacks). SNCC suspicious of King, believed that organising grass roots action was the key.
(6) Birmingham – King = key to deciding strategy – protest is effective when it causes brutality and oppression from your opponent.
- King able to present himself as a reasonable moderate (in contrast to NoI). See ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ – a classic statement on civil rights and non-violence (in response to white clergymen who criticised his actions). Campaign provoked Kennedy admin into producing CR legislation (1964 Civil Rights Act). 1963 Newsweek opinion poll of blacks indicated that 95% saw King as their most successful spokesperson.
- BUT … agreement finally reached in B fell short of original SCLC demands – eg – ‘gradual’ hiring of black employees and desegregation of facilities, school desegregation left untouched. King accused of ‘token’ gains.
(7) March on Washington – 250,000 people (quarter = white, shows how successful King had been in gaining support of white pop. By 1964 King on cover of ‘Time’ magazine and awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (& SCLC) … Part B: Increasing Divisions (1964-68)
(8) Mississippi (1964) – King & SCLC when to assist SNCC & CORE voter registration drive.
- New political party founded = Mississippi Freedom Democrats (MFDP) aim = to challenge all-white Mississippi delegation at Democratic National Convention. Lyndon Johnson refused to let the MFDP have voting rights at the convention. Instead it was proposed that at future conventions, no delegations would be allowed from states discriminating against black voters. King & SCLC (and key figures in NAACP) accepted this.
- BUT … SNCC angered by treatment of MFDP = key turning point – drifted increasingly away from ‘conservatism’ of King and SCLC.
(9) Selma – SCLC decided to join with SNCC & CORE on voter registration drive.
- Actions – forced federal court to authorise the third attempt at Selma – Montgomery march, Johnson used Alabama state militia to protect march. Also, highly charged atmosphere caused by events in Selma led Lyndon Johnson to call Congress into a special session to enact new voting rights legislation (see 1965 CR Act). 1965 Voting Rights Act = direct consequence of the Selma Campaign. = ‘King’s finest hour’.
- BUT … SNCC field workers not keen on cooperating with King & SCLC. SNCC did not like his religiosity or his tendency to compromise (see Birmingham). Also, thought he often came in – stirred up publicity and conflict … then left before the job was done! Their distrust of King made worse by 2nd march from Selma to Montgomery – when King refused to break through police barricade, led the marchers in prayer, then turned back to Selma (nb – first march had resulted in ‘Bloody Sunday & violence – at Edmund Pettus Bridge on road out of Selma - marchers tear gassed & beaten by mounted police).
(10) Chicago – riots (eg – Watts) alerted King to problems of poverty in inner city ghettos in North.
- King showed bravery – lived with family in Chicago ghetto, assaulted on march through white w/class neighbourhoods
- BUT … achieved little real change in housing/employment practices. Although SCLC had some success in working with Chicago street gangs (used as King’s bodyguard) but they rejected his philosophy of non- violence.
(11) Vietnam – King opposed US involvement. Shows he was becoming increasingly radical in his last years. As does his involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign & the Memphis Strike (ie – showing concern for economic hardship, calling for redistribution of wealth)
- Moved him closer to younger elements of CR movement – SNCC & CORE
- BUT … alienated him from some ‘conservative’ black leaders and anger Lyndon Johnson.
(12) Meredith March – rift between SCLC & SNCC deepened. SC’s use of the ‘Black power’ slogan caused tension – King opposed phrase because it suggested racial separatism and apparent acceptance of violence.
Impact - OVERALL EVALUATION
- However, through his leadership and example the CR movement achieved its most significant victories – eg – shaming Congress into enacting the Civil Rights (64), Voting Rights (65) and Housing (68) Acts.
- After his death the national direct action phase of the CR movement died with him.
- His ability to inspire was peerless. As such, he deserves to be remembered as the greatest black visionary leader of the 20th century.
CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
- Formed in 1942 by 6 non-violent activists (inspired by Gandhi)
- Originally v.small in numbers … however … campaign methods = important …
- In favour of non-violent direct action – eg - organised sit-ins at segregated Chicago restaurants & demanded segregation on interstate transport.
- 1947: Journey of Reconciliation – Travelled by bus from North to Southern states (to test Morgan v. Virginia – ruling by supreme court that segregation on interstate bus services was illegal). Direct challenge to states who had not segregated – result = arrested on several occasion – this raised awareness that de jure changes in the law had not led to de facto change in practice.
- 1961: Freedom Rides - Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of "," as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by CORE and the SNCC, involved more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.