Nowadays, civil rights are one of the most significant world issues as they are an inevitable part of any democratic state. Making a profound analysis of any civil rights movement, it is necessary to notify that it is closely connected to “the concern with self-respect” (King 64) of citizens. Moreover, irrespective of the success which was achieved in each civil rights movement, the main aim of its participants has always been the same: it was a demonstration of citizens’ ability to struggle for their rights, to make a considerable contribution to the state politics, and to make their dream of democracy and equality come true.
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First of all, in order to prove this fact, it is noteworthy to compare different civil rights movements which took place in the 20th century. One of them is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The official data of its start is the 1st of December in 1955. Colored people who lived in Montgomery, Alabama, decided to boycott the buses of the city. Their strategy was aimed at the protest against the obligation of the black to give up a bus seat to white people. For the purpose of bringing the movement to national attention, Jo Ann Robinson, one of the activists, distributed an abundance of fliers, which were anonymous, throughout Montgomery. Government tried to play an integral role in preventing the black from continuing their boycott, for instance, the law which used to prohibit boycotts and riots came into force again. In spite of the problems the participants of the boycott had to face with, they went on struggling for their rights, and eventually, in the U.S. Supreme Court, the segregation on buses was declared to be unconstitutional; this was the reason why the boycott was later unnecessary.
Another example of the struggle for human rights was the protest which started on the 1st of February in 1960 in Nashville. The strategy of four freshmen was to remain seated “until closing time at the Woolworth lunch counter after they were refused service” (Oberschall 216). The information about the protest was spread by various civil rights organizations by means of wire services. In spite of the Montgomery bus Boycott, in the protest of sit-ins, government did not play much role, but this civil rights movement can be considered to be successful. To begin with, on the 10th of May, six lunch counters in Nashville were serving the colored. On the other hand, the participants of the movement did not make their mind to stop their actions. The protest went on even after the adoption of the Civil Rights Act.
Freedom Rides were another civil rights movement; in New Orleans, it took place on the 17th of May in 1961. The strategy of the participants had much in common with the one of the protesters of the Montgomery Bus Boycott as it also touched upon the traffic and the respect of the black in public transport. The essence of the protest was the black, who were seated on the front of the bus, and the white, who were on the back seats. In this civil rights movement, the government as well as the representatives of the legislative system was of paramount importance. For instance, attorney general Kennedy tried to do his best in the influence on the decision of the Supreme Court. The success of the protest included the fact that a compromise was reached between Robert Kennedy and James O. Eastland, Mississippi Senator. The main aim of Freedom Riders was achieved, and the administration of Kennedy was forced to put the civil rights on agenda.
In spite of Freedom Riders, the protest in Birmingham was connected not to the passengers but to the voters who wanted to rid their city of the commission which included three men. Furthermore, there were a lot of protesters who struggled for the solution of the discrimination problem. The main source of drawing public attention to the event was the work of the reporters who were actively spreading the information. Moreover, an abundance of pictures which showed the confrontations between the police and children were also spread. They were more than shocking, and this is the reason why the public used to pay even much more attention at the protests. In the case of protesters in Birmingham, government played an integral role; first of all, it tried to make everything possible to prevent the leaders of this civil rights movement from continuing the demonstration organization. The success of the demonstrations was inspired by business communities; their goal was quite mercantile: its representatives did not want the downtown stores to be damaged. It was the prominent prerequisite for the integration of the city lunch counters. In addition, the black were hired so that one more battle for civil rights was won. The city officials made much impact on this process, as well.
Another civil rights movement occurred in Selma and its neighboring towns; the strategy of the protesters was the organization of marches. The reason of the protest was the arrest of Amelia Boynton as the photos of this arrest were published in American newspapers. These pictures stimulated more than 100 schoolteachers to organize the protest against the arrest. What is more, the marches which were organized after the first one in Selma were a struggle for the rights of black voters. The main success of the marches was the signature of the Voting Rights Act by President Johnson.
The protests which were called Mississippi and Freedom Summer differed from the abovementioned ones. Its main peculiarity was the fact that not only colored people but also the white wanted to do their best in supporting them, for example, 60 white students took an active part in bringing this civil rights movement to public attention. The strategy of the protesters was to struggle for the rights of those black people who wanted to vote at the elections but were prohibited to do so. Only peaceful methods of organizing demonstrations were used during the protests; moreover, the Council of Federated Organizations made everything possible to guarantee the Freedom Vote. Finally, a compromise was known to be offered by Hubert Humphrey although it cannot be notified that it lead to the solution of the problem. Still, some success was achieved as some colored people were allowed to vote.
Comparing all protests, it is clear that the reason of the federal government to be reluctant to fully support the protests was the discrimination of colored people. An abundance of social stereotypes influenced the actions of the politicians, thus, in most cases, civil rights movements of the black were considered to be illegal. As a rule, each movement used to lose momentum when the goals of the protesters were achieved. Though, it is necessary to admit that all civil rights movements made the protesters understand that the importance of the struggle for civil rights is inevitable in case of discrimination. Furthermore, the protests gave colored people an opportunity to realize how much they can change, and how far they can go.
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