Another example of the non-violent tactics used during the 1960’s was the Freedom Summer Negro voting registration drive in Mississippi, 1964. This ‘invasion’ by thousands of college students and supported by Blacks all around the South, aimed to allow Blacks the right to vote. This heavily influenced the decision by Congress in 1965 to pass the Voting Rights Act which gave the federal government power to take over the registration of voters in states where officials ignored Amendment XV and tried to bar Blacks from voting.
Earlier protests such as the Lunch Counter Sit-ins in which hundreds of Blacks in seven states protested against discrimination of service in restaurants, influenced the Civil Rights Act to be passed, which outlawed racial discrimination in employment, restaurants, hotels and more. An equal employment and opportunity commission was also set up at this time, which lowered the Black unemployment rate drastically, improving their incomes by 50% by 1970.
By 1969, 27% of Blacks were living below the poverty line compared to 50% in 1960. This is yet another example of the attaining equality for Blacks in all ways of life. Not only did Martin Luther King organise many protests to unify Blacks, but he also helped to change the attitudes of millions of white Americans towards blacks, as shows in a 1986 opinion poll which found that 97% of whites thought blacks should have equal job opportunities.
The assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 brought an amendment to the Civil Rights Act, making it a crime to harm civil rights workers or incite a riot, aswell as outlawing racial discrimination in sale or rental of housing. Even in his death, King influenced the fight for justice to continue and prevail, such as in 1970 when the Civil Right Act was amended and extended for five years.
Like the rise of segregation, the civil rights movement entailed a long process. There were many setbacks and the rewards, immediate at least, were few. Many have remarked that the achievement of the civil rights movement were mostly in law, and that it took custom and public attitude a long time to catch up with the idea that Black Americans should be equal citizens in the United States of America. Some would argue that custom has yet to catch up, yet undoubtedly equality for Blacks was achieved to a great extent during the 1960s largely due to the success of the Civil Rights Movement.