The Civil Rights Movement Essay

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The Civil Rights Movement: A Summary. The civil rights movement that spanned the years following the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 through the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 marked a watershed period that accomplished far more than the elimination of racial barriers; it led to the overwhelming transformation of American social, cultural, and political life. Changes to prevailing notions about the citizenship rights of African-American, for example, coupled with a redefinition of the role of the government and courts in protecting these rights, continue to bolster the human rights of all Americans, regardless of their skin colour. The words civil rights often conjure images of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his soul-stirring “I Have a Dream” speech before the nation’s capital. On a darker note, many recall television footage of peaceful marchers beset by fire hoses and snarling police dogs, or the resolute faces of African-American college students as they waged their sit-in campaigns at southern lunch counters. Certainly one of the most trenchant set of images—and perhaps representing the nadir of the movement—are the photographs of four young African-American schoolgirls who were killed when a bomb ripped through the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where they were attending Sunday school. These and other images are a testament to the intense burst of African-American activism—and the resulting white backlash—that characterized the civil rights movement of the mid–twentieth century. Yet African Americans have always struggled for their rights. Many consider the civil rights movement to have begun not in the 1950s but when Africans were first brought in chains, centuries earlier, to American shores. In particular, those African-Americans who fought their enslavement and demanded fundamental citizenship rights laid the foundation for

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