How Significant Were Events in Changing Attitudes Towards African-Americans?

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How Significant were the Following Events in Changing Attitudes Towards African-Americans?

  • Brown Case
  • Little Rock
  • Autherine Lucy
  • Emmett Till
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

Bethan Siddons

Racial tensions were high in America and this was due to the exposure that white and black people had of eachother in unequal statuses. As Africans had originally been brought over to America as slaves in the 1800s, Americans believed themselves to be far superior and this idea remained even after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that declared all African-Americans free from slavery. Restricting them from education and equality, Americans discriminated black people and kept them living in poor conditions with no way of escape. Many freed slaves found there were no opportunities for them to earn a living so they were forced back into labour with their old masters, working extremely hard for very little money. Of course, this situation led to resistance from some blacks and many began organisations to improve the lives of African-Americans. By 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) began and this supported any chance a black person acquired to try and push for a better future for black people. It was at the forefront of all the major events that helped shape the progression of the black Civil Rights movement right up to the current day. But to the extent of the events significance in the Civil Rights movement is what this essay will explore.

        The Brown VS the Board of Education case in 1954 was a key step to aid black rights as it reversed the rulings during the case Plessy VS Ferguson. Segregated schools was ruled unconstitutional which resulted in some educational facilities beginning to integrate. This helped black rights as it showed that America was starting to realize that maybe black people didn’t deserve the way they were being treated. It also paved a way for the future for more and more black students to learn in schools to reduce illiteracy in the black community. Yet it also prompted a lot of resistance from white racists all over the country. This, in turn, could well have helped spur on the Civil Rights Movement. As there were many more federal civil rights acts from 1957 onwards, I can’t help but think that the way for these was paved by this initial decision. However, as only 20% of black students attended integrated schools 14 years after the decision, it also opened the way to more court rulings such as Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia in 1968, that were much more specific as to what America needed to achieve with racial equality.

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        Continuing in chronological order, comes the death of Emmett Till in 1955. A young school boy, Emmett had travelled down from Chicago to visit relatives but after whistling at a white woman, found himself being brutally murdered in Mississippi. Till was shot and beaten to death, afterwards his body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. The two men convicted of his murder were acquitted (by an all-white jury) from a case with the highest amount of media attention a black case had ever received. As reporters came from all over the globe to the tiny courtroom, that remained segregated, they ...

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