Civil Rights Essay

1983 words - 8 pages

By 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had achieved many convincing victories: Brown v. Board, integration of public transportation and restaurants, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite their gains, the movement still struggled with the continual racism of the South. No matter how many Supreme Court decisions, the South refused to give in, especially in voter registration. This is not surprising, in that, the real fear for the white community was the control of the ballot box by the black community. Eventually, this would lead to the election of black officials, which appalled most social circles of the South. Therefore, there was considerable resistance to ...view middle of the document...

Overall, the trip made a massive impact on the participants, and this is not understandable, in that, the participants had emerged from Freedom Summer’s terrorism, which targeted SNCC and its members for registering blacks to vote and providing schools to educate black children, into countries whose leadership comprised of blacks. More importantly, however, the trip to Africa presented an alternative view of America for the participants. As Julian Bond explains, “There were all test pictures of Negroes doing things...If you didn't know anything about America, you would think these were commonplace things." Apparently, even the United States government was involved in covering up the plight of blacks in America. Gradually, SNCC evolved into a student organization that did not advocate for peace disobedience, but demanded equality that was deservingly theirs. Once they participants of the African trip returned to the United States, there was a real uncertainty about the direction of SNCC for the future. Should the organization be comprised only of blacks? These were difficult questions for Moses, Lewis, and ultimately, Carmichael to answer. All the while, the divisions between the groups grew. Roy Wilkins, the head of the NAACP, on January 6, 1965, openly quoted to Life magazine that "Chinese communist elements" had infiltrated the SNCC. In this moment, Martin Luther King and the SCLC set their sights on voter registration drives, in part because of the success of Freedom Summer in exposing the continual racism of the South in voting practices. Ultimately, King would settle on a smaller Alabama town, with a high tempered Sheriff: Selma.
Selma had the right ingredients for success: a majority black population unable to vote, a harden governor, George Wallace, and a quick-tempered Sheriff, Jim Clark. During the first weeks of King’s participation, dramatic scenes played out in front of the courthouse: protestors were beaten, and verbal abuse. The footage from Bridge to Freedom illustrates the violence of Selma with actual video footage of the event. Unlike the protests of the past, Selma, in 1965, was in the middle of a new digital revolution in America. Video cameras were everywhere, and the popularity of the television had exploded. Thus, when national news networks heard of the civil rights plans in Selma, they departed for Alabama with haste. In Bridge to Freedom, the assault on black participants on the courthouse steps is clear, and supplemented by the scenes of terrorism on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Undoubtedly, this video footage had a great effect on the nation, as a whole, with even President Johnson, in front of a special session of Congress for support of a new Civil Rights bill, closing with, “And we shall overcome.”
Jimmie Lee Jackson, a participant in the Selma demonstrations, was murdered during a protest on February 18, 1965, and to this, his grandfather remarked, "I've got nothing to lose now. We've got to keep going." The...

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