Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement Essay

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Protest against injustice is deeply rooted in the African American experience. The origins of the civil rights movement date much further back than the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka which said, "separate but equal" schools violated the Constitution. From the earliest slave revolts in this country over 400 years ago, African Americans strove to gain full participation in every aspect of political, economic and social life in the United States.
Segregation was an attempt by white Southerners to separate the races in every sphere of life and to achieve supremacy over blacks. Segregation was often called the Jim Crow system, after a minstrel show character from the 1830s that was an old
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One of the cases against segregated rail travel was Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "separate but equal" accommodations were constitutional. However, in 1952, the Supreme Court heard a number of school-segregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Topeka, Kansas. It decided unanimously in 1954 that segregation was unconstitutional, overthrowing the 1869 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that had set the "separate but equal" precedent.
As desegregation progresses, the membership of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) grew. The KKK used violence or threats against anyone who was suspected of favoring desegregation or black civil rights. Klan terror, including intimidation and murder, was widespread in the South in the 1950s and 1960s, though Klan activities were not always reported in the media. One terrorist act that did receive national attention was the murder of Emmit Till, 14-year-old black boy slain in Mississippi by whites who believed he had flirted with a white woman. The trial and acquittal of the men accuse of Till's murder were covered in the national media, demonstrating the continuing racial bigotry of Southern whites.
To protest segregation, blacks created new national organizations. The National Afro-American League was formed in 1890; the Niagra Movement in 1905; and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. In 1910,…

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