by Ivalu Blanchett


Civil Rights for African Americans

Civil rights is something that everyone should have. Not enough civil rights is a problem in many countries. In the United States, African Americans haven’t always had civil rights. The history of civil rights for African Americans was an inspirational, scary and exciting journey, which has had effects on how Americans live today.


Before civil rights


Before there were civil rights for African Americans, black people were treated badly. They weren’t allowed to drink water from the same fountains as white people, they had to use a different bathroom, they had to go to different schools and they always had to go through the back door of a building or a bus.

There were also white power groups. The Klu Klux Klan was one organization that discriminated against African Americans. The Klu Klux Klan was founded in 1866. They would murder African Americans, and bomb houses, churches and schools. The Klan did many bad things to African Americans, Jewish people, and Catholic people. Even white people with relations with African Americans were scared of the Klan. There are still members of the Klu Klux Klan today, but they aren’t as violent as they were years ago.


Civil rights movements


Birmingham Bombing

In the 1900s, African Americans were discriminated and hated to the point where there was violence.

On September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb blew up. It happened right before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Mostly African Americans would go to that church. It was also a meeting place for civil rights leaders.

Because of the bomb, many people were injured and four young girls were killed. After the incident many people were very angry, and they protested for civil rights for African Americans.

Homemade bombs were also placed in black homes and churches. These incidents happened so often that people started calling the city “Bombingham”. When people protested the police would fight back and that filled the city with violence. By 1965, the FBI knew who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, but they did nothing about it.

In 1977, Bob Baxley, the Alabama Attorney General, resumed the investigation about who bombed the church. Robert E. Chambliss, a Klu Klux Klan leader, was guilty of murder and brought to trial for the bombings. More people who were proven guilty were also convicted.

The bombings made many people angry throughout the US, which raised more support for African Americans.


The March on Washington

There are many memorable events in American history, and this one was an especially great occasion.

In 1963, in Washington D.C. by the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington monument, more than 200,000 people gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march was arranged by different civil rights leaders and religious groups. It was formed so that people would see and understand the challenges for African Americans.

It was a great event because many people of different races shared a day of prayers, songs and speeches. On that day, the famous Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech.

The March on Washington was a great event that symbolized liberty, equality and hope.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Eventually, some people began to understand that racism hurt others and that it was bad to segregate someone just because of the color of their skin.

That’s when President John F. Kennedy suggested a civil rights act. It was signed into law by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. It was called the Civil Rights act of 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination (that means that it didn’t matter what, race, religion, national origin or gender you have to work in a certain place).

That civil rights movement was an important part of African American history because it helped equalize the different races.


Civil rights activists


Martin Luther King Jr.

There were many civil rights activists who wanted to change the ways African Americans were treated. One of the most inspiring and famous civil rights activists was Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s first major civil rights act was when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After that, he carried on fighting for freedom and peace. However, his life wasn’t always peaceful. He was arrested over twenty times, he was stabbed in the chest once, his house was bombed, and people often attacked him and his family.

His actions were meant to be peaceful; however, many people were violent towards him. Although, he still stood up for himself and he never stopped believing.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech was the one he told at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. It was his “I have a dream” speech that inspired many.

Martin Luther King Jr. was so courageous and inspiring, that he even was named Time Magazines Man of the Year in 1963. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, not everyone was fond of him. In Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He was standing on the balcony of his hotel when James Earl Ray shot him.

Even though he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr.’s brave and life changing actions have inspired many and he will always be remembered.


Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was another important civil rights activist.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks sat in the neutral section of a bus. Soon after she got on the bus, it became full. When a white man came on the bus, the driver had to follow rules and he asked the four African Americans sitting behind the white section to give up their seats so that the man could sit there. Rosa Parks was one of the four, but she refused to give up her seat.

Because of her actions, Rosa was fined and arrested for violating the laws of segregation.

A group called the Montgomery Improvement Association assembled a boycott. They chose Martin Luther King Jr. as their leader. The protest lasted 381 days. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the segregation law was not fair and that the bus sections should unify.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott inspired other non-violent civil rights protests in the United States.


Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was also a very courageous person, but at a very young age. In 1954, when she was 6 years old, she took a test deciding whether or not she could go to a white school. The test was created to be very difficult, so that the kids would have a hard time passing. The point of the test was that if all the African American children failed, New Orleans schools might be segregated for a longer time.

In 1960, her parents were told by people from the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) that her and six other African American children passed the test. Ruby Bridges was going to attend William Frantz School, and she was going to be the first African American to attend an all white school in the South.

When Ruby arrived at school, federal marshals escorted her. Many people at the school were yelling and throwing items. Policemen were everywhere and almost all the parents of the children at that school kept their children home.

Ruby faced many hardships on her first few weeks of school. People always made racist remarks. Even on her second day a woman threatened to poison her! On a different day a woman greeted her with a black doll in a wooden coffin. However, she stayed strong the whole time and she finished her education.

No racism


Today, Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of equality between the races has definitely came a long way. There are still racist people, but others are beginning to understand that being racist is mean, hurtful and wrong. However, economically, black people continue to struggle more than white people. One of the reasons is because they don’t have a higher education and they don’t have good access to hiring networks.

Also, during the housing boom, subprime mortgage lenders were most likely targeting African Americans. A lot of people lost their homes once the boom crashed.

Hopefully as the world evolves, people won’t be as racist and the world will be a place of equality.

If people make an effort to be less racist and understand that the color of your skin doesn’t matter, the world would be a better place. I think that over time we can accomplish this and we will live in a world with equality, liberty, and peace.




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