The Civil Rights Movement In The 1950's

822 words - 3 pages

In 1894, the US Supreme Court gave legal consent to state laws
segregating black people and white people with its decision concerning
the Plessey v Ferguson case. The decision stated that black and white
should be separate but equal, meaning the same standard of facilities
for both. In reality it legally enforced a state of affairs that
assured that blacks would never be equal, and couldn’t get equal
treatment, status or opportunity in their own country.

During the Second World War, the black American Gi’s realised that
they were fighting for a democracy abroad, which they did not have at
home. One black soldier vocalised the senselessness of their
situation: “just carve on my tombstone, Here lies a Black man killed
fighting a yellow man for the protection of a white man". Some took up
draft resistance in protest. The refusal to comply with segregation
laws within the military was punished with custody. Returning to
segregation at the end of the war caused the politicisation of many
black Americans. The ensuing civil disobedience campaign, the
non-violent resistance to the law, was one of the catalysts of the
civil rights movement. It was this campaign that was the first to
receive world - wide attention.

One of the first challenges to the Plessey v Ferguson laws was in
1954, when the NAACP contested the right of local school boards to run
segregated schools in the brown v board of education case. The Supreme
Court’s unanimous verdict was that segregation in education would be
illegal. However, by the end of 1956, there were still six southern
states that refused to let black children attend schools with white
children. One of these was Arkansas, who not only had not integrated
their schools, but were resolutely preventing it. The governor of
Arkansas used the National Guard to stop nine black children enrolling
at Little Rock high school, even against the wishes of the Supreme
Court. When faced with court action, the governor withdrew the
National Guard but left the black teenagers exposed to a violent mob,
determined to keep all...

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