The latter part of the Civil Rights Movement was characterized by action and change as it was no longer centralized in the South or only fought for by black individuals. Rather, northerners were active in achieving black equality and the white community was campaigning for integration. Although many lost their lives in this struggle, their valiancy did not go unrewarded and soon enough African Americans were able to vote, work, study, and simply eat lunch beside white individuals.
Despite the great efforts put forth during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 in which the black community and its supporters refused to use public transportation, transport segregation still remained in some southern states. As a result the civil rights group, the Congress on Racial Inequality (C.O.R.E.), began to organize what they called “freedom rides.” In 1961, the group began sending student volunteers on bus trips to test the implementation of new laws prohibiting segregation in interstate travel facilities (Peck, 161). Most notable was a trip they took from Washington, D.C., making stops in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Upon arrival the group was met with violence and brutality from the Ku Klux Klan and others, but this did not deter them from getting their voice heard. In September 1961, the Attorney General petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to draft a policy making racial segregation in bus terminals illegal, and in November this was put into effect. The Freedom Riders gave national publicity to the discrimination that black Americans were forced to endure and, in doing so, helped bring about change not only in bus terminals but in the nation as a whole.
One of the groundbreaking events in these decades can be accredited to James Meredith. After applying for admission and going through the necessary preliminaries for acceptance to his home state university, “Ole Miss,” he was denied. On May 31, 1961, he filed suit against the University of Mississippi asserting that he had been rejected on racial grounds (Brooks, 187). Much to the dismay of segregationalists, over a year later, in September 1962, a federal court ordered the University of Mississippi to accept James Meredith. Governor Ross Barnett stated that he would never authorize the integration of the university and, after much rioting and violence, Meredith was accompanied by federal marshals and enrolled on October 1, 1962. Because of his determination and the support he had from the government, James Meredith, a regular man with conventional dreams, made it possible for black individuals to seek a higher education.
Events, such as those mentioned above, provided the Civil Rights Movement with a great deal of publicity and revealed the intense violence that these activists were faced with. Another such series of events took place in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963. Considered to be the most segregated city in...