Activities of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s shook the American nation to its very foundations. This is because the movement was felt by every African American family in the United States (Sitkoff, 2008). In the international community, especially all over Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, most blacks were filled with new buoyancy. It actually seemed like on every continent, the emancipation effort was happening (Sitkoff, 2008).
Strategy in the Civil Rights Movement
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One of the strategies that the civil rights movement used was through the courts. Before 1954, these court cases bore little fruits (Sitkoff, 2008). As a result, the civil rights movement resorted to the use of boycotts. A prominent example of this was in Montgomery, Alabama, when Rosa Parks, a black activist in the National Association for the Advancement of Black People (NAACP) declared her position (Sitkoff, 2008). In opposition to the bus system which gave priority to the whites for the finest seats, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. This led to her arrest thus prompting the civil rights movement to organize a one-day boycott of the buses. The boycotts actually went on for up to one year. After many months of boycotts, the battle was eventually won leading to the desegregation of buses in Montgomery (Sitkoff, 2008).
Apart from bus boycotts, the civil rights movement also made use of sit-ins and freedom rides. This began in the 1960 when a new generation, inspired by the movement, decided to get involved. What they would do is to enter lunch bars and demand to be served. Whenever they were snubbed, they would bluntly sit-in (Sitkoff, 2008). Such incursions led to loss of money by the owners. Even though many were arrested and even expelled from school, the sit-ins did not cease. Later on, they began Freedom Rides in which both black and white students would travel through the Southern States (Sitkoff, 2008). This led to the integration of buses that had already been passed into law. Although most of the freedom riders were beaten, the Freedom Rides did not stop (Sitkoff, 2008).
Following their invitation by Martin Luther King, the students went ahead to form a youth wing of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (Sitkoff, 2008). The group later on formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee whose strategy was based on the use of non-violence to achieve black equality (Sitkoff, 2008).
The Role of the Media, the Role of White Intransigence and Violence
The coverage of the civil rights movement by the media largely contributed to the redefinition of the country’s political environment (Sitkoff, 2008). The 1955 Montgomery bus boycotts and the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta were prominent issues in the media at the time. The hi-tech modernization in the use of moveable cameras and electronic news gathering equipments made it possible for the use television to broadcast non-violent civil disobedience campaign of the civil rights movement (Sitkoff, 2008).
The media coverage of the 1954 NAACP’s landmark case and the cruel murder of Emmet Till in Mississippi were effective in helping to swell the membership ranks of civil rights organizations all over the United States (Sitkoff, 2008). The mass boycotts of the civil rights workers coupled with the civil rights campaigns led to white supremacist terrors in the south as a counter offensive (Sitkoff, 2008). This was usually quick and too vicious leading to the murder of the likes of Medgar Evers among other civil rights activists. In fact, a number of black churches were bombed (Sitkoff, 2008). In spite of the fact that this led to the escalation of terror in the bid to derail the civil rights movement, it instead led to expansion of the support of civil rights (Sitkoff, 2008).
There was also the case of drama of the civil rights protesters being involved in violent confrontations with the brutal agents of Southern segregation (Sitkoff, 2008). News programs in most media houses were expanded with the inclusion of live telecast involving public clashes by civil rights movement that were apparently too aggressive yet too vital to overlook (Sitkoff, 2008).
By 1968, the media had become a powerful tool in the civil rights struggle and had filtered through most levels of the American societal and opinionated veracity (Sitkoff, 2008). As a result, the images and pictures on the media helped acquire support for tolerant legislation like the 1964 Voting Rights Act including Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ and ‘War on Poverty’ programs. These were serious legatees of the civil rights movement (Sitkoff, 2008).
Evaluation of JFK Administration’s Role in the Movement
President John Kennedy was really not related to issues involving civil rights. This is mainly because his leadership was more famed with the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. As an individual, he voted against Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Act of 1957 in which he placed political practicality before any forms of values (Sitkoff, 2008). However, during his presidential campaign after being nominated by the Democrats, he made it very clear that he stood in support of the civil rights (Sitkoff, 2008). Although many historians saw his opposition to the 1957 Act as understandable coming from a political perspective, some were skeptical about it with the view that he required the ‘Black Vote’ in the coming elections (Sitkoff, 2008).
As President, Kennedy did not do anything to assist and advance the concern of civil rights. Many believe it was as a result of the global factors since he could no longer focus his concentration on home issues (Sitkoff, 2008). At the time, there was also little public support for civil rights legislation. Additionally, he concentrated much on the enhancement of healthcare and assisting low wage earners. However, in the bid to advance the cause of civil rights, Kennedy put pressure on the federal government organizations to provide work for more blacks (Sitkoff, 2008).
However, those who got employment in these organizations got very low paying jobs and had little or no prospect of professional progress (Sitkoff, 2008). For instance, out of the 13, 649 people employed by the FBI, only a paltry 48 were African Americans who worked as chauffeurs (Sitkoff, 2008). His creation of the Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity (CEEO) was a big boost to the civil rights movement even though it did little to actively get employment opportunities for African Americans. All in all, in the eyes of the civil rights movement, Kennedy did more than most of his predecessors (Sitkoff, 2008).
The importance of the points made above cannot be overemphasized. This is because they are vital to the history of the United States and the world in general (Sitkoff, 2008). The points made above point out the fact that racial discrimination was unjust and wrong and could not be tolerated (Sitkoff, 2008). The history of the occurrences that led to the black equality is vital since it sets an example for oppressed people everywhere, like in the present day Tibet