American Civil Rights Movement

  1. ‘Jim Crow laws were passed in the southern states denying black people equal rights. Black people were not allowed to use ‘whites only’ public facilities such as schools and parks.
  2. The Ku Klux Klan was formed during the reconstruction of the South after the Civil War in 1865. It aimed to promote ‘white supremacy’ by intimidating, attacking and lynching black people.
  3. In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was set up to oppose discrimination by challenging it in the courts.
  4. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Harlem Renaissance led to black Americans look into their history and begin to connect to their African roots. Black writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston wrote books and poetry that explored and celebrated black culture.
  5. In 1942, James Farmer founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to challenge segregation by non-violent direct action.
  6. In 1957, Martin Luther King Jr founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to fight for civil rights through peaceful marches and demonstrations
  1. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr won the Nobel Peace Prize for his use of non-violence and his social justice work for black Americans and oppressed people around the world. The third Monday in January in America is Martin Luther Jr King Day, a national holiday.
  2. The Civil Rights Act (1964) outlawed segregation in schools, public places and jobs.
  3. The Voting Rights Act (1965) made it illegal to do anything that might limit the number of people able to vote. Some states had used a poll tax or a literacy test to try and prevent black people from voting as many black people had limited access to education.
  4. The Fair Housing Act (1968) banned discrimination in housing.
  5. The Equal Opportunity Act (1972) sought to ensure African Americans were better represented in certain industries.
  6. In 1964, 100 African Americans held political office, by 1992 the number had reached 8,000.
  7. In 2008, a black American, Barack Obama, became President of the United States.
  1. Civil rights did not bring prosperity or jobs to most black communities. Many black Americans remained poor and frustrated by persistent discrimination, police harassment and low standards of living.
  2. The basic rights that had been promised to many black Americans were not realised in practice.
  3. As a result, groups such as the Black Panthers sought to move the Civil Rights Movement to another level by encouraging black communities to become self-sufficient by setting up food, housing and education schemes, as well as policing their communities.
  4. The Black Panthers also saw violence as a justifiable and effective way to bring about political change.
  5. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. This led to a wave of riots that destroyed many black communities across American cities. Some of these communities never recovered.
  6. To this day, poverty, violence and discrimination against black people continue.



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Shahid Hussain Raja

Shahid Hussain Raja

Retired Federal Secretary, Government of Pakistan/Author/Independent Consultant- Public Policy & Governance Reforms