On December 1st, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of a bus to a white man. It was this simple act of defiance that, arguably, began the Civil Rights movement which lasted from 1955 through the 1960’s and altered the face of our nation forever. Following the arrest of Rosa Parks for her simple denial, African Americans in Montgomery began boycotting the bus system, one of the first major stands against racism in the 1950’s. On the heels of the Brown v. Board of Education segregation trial which had ruled in favor of school integration, this boycott, which proved successful after the seat separation was removed, effectively began the civil rights movement with which we are now so familiar with. The civil rights movement in America aimed to gain civil liberties and rights which were guaranteed by law but withheld from them in society. While the movement lasted from about 1954 to 1968, it was not until the 1960’s that other minorities such as American Indians and women began to join the fight. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was possibly the most important domestic social movement of the twentieth century. At the very least, it was the most important social confrontation to grip America since the Civil War.
At the end of World War II, African American soldiers returned home from war and found themselves disappointed with how they were being treated in their own country. When in Europe they had come face to face with how Blacks were treated outside the United States and found that they enjoyed greater equality overseas than in their home country. Realizing that other countries were so farther advanced in their civil rights movements gave these African Americans hope for the United States, as well. “They discovered that racial discrimination was not nearly as oppressive in European countries like Great Britain and France. For the first time, many people realized that the United States could become a land without racial discrimination.” The temporary integration of European and American cultures during the war led to the spread of mainstream ideals and governing policies back home in the States.
Another primary reason for the explosion of the civil rights movement was the introduction of the GI Bill after the war. The GI Bill granted WWII veterans new educational opportunities and greater chances for economic stability or prosperity. “Thousands of African-American veterans took advantage of this benefit and then discovered after graduating from college that whites received better-paying jobs.” Encouraged by their new educations and optimistic for the future, many African Americans were let down when they found that even with a college education, equality was still far off. The GI Bill, which they had viewed as a “way out” of poverty and, hopefully, discrimination, had done nothing but accentuate the blatant racism still popular in America.
The perceived failure of...