- Events that initiated social change during the civil rights movement
- The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945—1968
- The Civil Rights Movement
- The US Civil Rights Movement () | ICNC
Still, many were encouraged by the discreet support Kennedy gave to Dr. King, and the administration's willingness, after dramatic pressure from civil disobedience, to bring forth racially progressive initiatives.
Events that initiated social change during the civil rights movement
Many of the initiatives resulted from Robert Kennedy's passion. The younger Kennedy gained a rapid education in the realities of racism through events such as the Baldwin-Kennedy meeting.
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The president came to share his brother's sense of urgency on the matter, resulting in the landmark Civil Rights Address of June and the introduction of the first major civil rights act of the decade. Robert Kennedy first became concerned with civil rights in mid-May during the Freedom Rides , when photographs of the burning bus and savage beatings in Anniston and Birmingham were broadcast around the world.
They came at an especially embarrassing time, as President Kennedy was about to have a summit with the Soviet premier in Vienna.
The White House was concerned with its image among the populations of newly independent nations in Africa and Asia, and Robert Kennedy responded with an address for Voice of America stating that great progress had been made on the issue of race relations. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the administration worked to resolve the crisis with a minimum of violence and prevent the Freedom Riders from generating a fresh crop of headlines that might divert attention from the President's international agenda. The Freedom Riders documentary notes that, "The back burner issue of civil rights had collided with the urgent demands of Cold War realpolitik.
On May 21, when a white mob attacked and burned the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where King was holding out with protesters, Robert Kennedy telephoned King to ask him to stay in the building until the U. Marshals and National Guard could secure the area. King proceeded to berate Kennedy for "allowing the situation to continue". King later publicly thanked Kennedy for deploying the force to break up an attack which might otherwise have ended King's life. With a very small majority in Congress, the president's ability to press ahead with legislation relied considerably on a balancing game with the Senators and Congressmen of the South.
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Without the support of Vice-President Johnson, a former Senator who had years of experience in Congress and longstanding relations there, many of the Attorney-General's programs would not have progressed. By late , frustration at the slow pace of political change was balanced by the movement's strong support for legislative initiatives, including administrative representation across all U. Government departments and greater access to the ballot box.
From squaring off against Governor George Wallace , to "tearing into" Vice-President Johnson for failing to desegregate areas of the administration , to threatening corrupt white Southern judges with disbarment, to desegregating interstate transport, Robert Kennedy came to be consumed by the civil rights movement. He continued to work on these social justice issues in his bid for the presidency in On the night of Governor Wallace's capitulation to African-American enrollment at the University of Alabama , President Kennedy gave an address to the nation, which marked the changing tide, an address that was to become a landmark for the ensuing change in political policy as to civil rights.
In , Robert Kennedy visited South Africa and voiced his objections to apartheid , the first time a major US politician had done so:.
The Civil Rights Movement And The Second Reconstruction, 1945—1968
At the University of Natal in Durban, I was told the church to which most of the white population belongs teaches apartheid as a moral necessity. A questioner declared that few churches allow black Africans to pray with the white because the Bible says that is the way it should be, because God created Negroes to serve.
What then is our response? Only silence. Robert Kennedy's relationship with the movement was not always positive. As attorney general, he was called to account by activists—who booed him at a June speech—for the Justice Department's own poor record of hiring blacks. This program ordered FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of Communist front groups, a category in which the paranoid Hoover included most civil rights organizations.
King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so. Many in the Jewish community supported the civil rights movement. In fact, statistically Jews were one of the most actively involved non-black groups in the Movement. Jews made up roughly half of the white northern and western volunteers involved in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project and approximately half of the civil rights attorneys active in the South during the s.
Jewish leaders were arrested while heeding a call from Martin Luther King Jr. Augustine, Florida , in June , where the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place at the Monson Motor Lodge—a nationally important civil rights landmark that was demolished in so that a Hilton Hotel could be built on the site. Abraham Joshua Heschel , a writer, rabbi, and professor of theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, was outspoken on the subject of civil rights.
He marched arm-in-arm with Dr. King in the Selma to Montgomery march. Brandeis University , the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college university in the world, created the Transitional Year Program TYP in , in part response to Rev. Martin Luther King's assassination. The faculty created it to renew the university's commitment to social justice. Recognizing Brandeis as a university with a commitment to academic excellence, these faculty members created a chance to disadvantaged students to participate in an empowering educational experience.
While Jews were very active in the civil rights movement in the South, in the North, many had experienced a more strained relationship with African Americans. In communities experiencing white flight, racial rioting, and urban decay, Jewish Americans were more often the last remaining whites in the communities most affected.
In New York City, most notably, there was a major socio-economic class difference in the perception of African Americans by Jews. According to political scientist Michael Rogin , Jewish-Black hostility was a two-way street extending to earlier decades. In the post-World War II era, Jews were granted white privilege and most moved into the middle-class while Blacks were left behind in the ghetto. The culmination of this was the New York City teachers' strike , pitting largely Jewish schoolteachers against predominantly Black parents in Brownsville, New York.
Many Jewish individuals in the Southern states who supported civil rights for African Americans tended to keep a low profile on "the race issue", in order to avoid attracting the attention of the anti-Black and antisemitic Ku Klux Klan. As an example of this hatred, in one year alone, from November to October , temples and other Jewish communal gatherings were bombed and desecrated in Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Miami, and dynamite was found under synagogues in Birmingham, Charlotte , and Gastonia, North Carolina.
Some rabbis received death threats, but there were no injuries following these outbursts of violence. King reached the height of popular acclaim during his life in , when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His career after that point was filled with frustrating challenges. The liberal coalition that had gained passage of the Civil Rights Act of and the Voting Rights Act of began to fray. King was becoming more estranged from the Johnson administration. In he broke with it by calling for peace negotiations and a halt to the bombing of Vietnam.
He moved further left in the following years, speaking of the need for economic justice and thoroughgoing changes in American society. He believed change was needed beyond the civil rights gained by the movement. King's attempts to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement were halting and largely unsuccessful, however. King made several efforts in to take the Movement north to address housing discrimination. Daley marginalized SCLC's campaign by promising to "study" the city's problems. In , white demonstrators holding "white power" signs in notoriously racist Cicero , a suburb of Chicago, threw stones at marchers demonstrating against housing segregation.
Politicians and journalists quickly blamed this white backlash on the movement's shift towards Black Power in the mids; today most scholars view backlash as a phenomenon that was already developing in the mids, embodied in the " massive resistance " movement of the South where even the few moderate white leaders including George Wallace, who had once been endorsed by the NAACP shifted to openly racist positions. For instance, prior to the Watts riot, California whites had already mobilized to repeal the state's fair housing law. Even so, the backlash was not sufficient at the time to roll back major civil rights victories or swing the country into reaction.
Social historians Matthew Lassiter and Barbara Ehrenreich note that backlash's primary constituency was suburban and middle-class, but not working-class whites: "among the white electorate, one half of blue-collar voters…cast their ballot for [the liberal presidential candidate] Hubert Humphrey in …only in the South did George Wallace draw substantially more blue-collar than white-collar support.
The Civil Rights Movement
Women often acted as leaders in the civil rights movement and led organizations that contributed to the cause of civil rights. African-American women stepped into the roles that men had previously held. Women were members of the NAACP because they believed it could help them contribute to the cause of civil rights. Many women in the movement experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the movement. Within the ministers' patriarchal hierarchy, age and experience were actually considered detriments for a woman.
Her role as an executive was only assigned as a placeholder for a male leader.
The US Civil Rights Movement () | ICNC
Women who worked in multiple civil rights organizations noted that males tended to become the leaders and women "faded into the background" and the men of the movement did not acknowledge the gender discrimination present in the organization. Women got very little recognition for their roles in the civil rights movement despite the fact that they were heavily involved with the participation and planning. A study in the American Journal of Political Science found that civil rights protest activity had a meaningful persistent impact on attitudes in the long-run.
The study found that "whites from counties that experienced historical civil rights protests are more likely to identify as Democrats and support affirmative action, and less likely to harbor racial resentment against blacks Lyndon Johnson made civil rights one of his highest priorities, coupling it with a whites war on poverty. However in creasing the shrill opposition to the War in Vietnam, coupled with the cost of the war, undercut support for his domestic programs.
Under Kennedy, major civil rights legislation had been stalled in Congress. His assassination changed everything.
On one hand president Lyndon Johnson was a much more skillful negotiator than Kennedy but he had behind him a powerful national momentum demanding immediate action on moral and emotional grounds. Demands for immediate action originated from unexpected directions, especially white Protestant church groups.
The Justice Department, led by Robert Kennedy, moved from a posture of defending Kennedy from the quagmire minefield of racial politics to acting to fulfill his legacy.