Black Civil Rights….America in the 1950’s

The Black Civil Rights Movement (CRM) campaigned to end Racism and Inequality for black people between 1955 and 1968. Before the CRM many towns and cities in America were segregated- black people could not use the same building entrance as a white person, eat in the same cafe, sit in the same taxi or use the same drinking fountain. Not only that, the police, judges and juries were all white and the laws supported these inequalities.

The CRM challenged not only the laws but people’s attitudes- attitudes that saw black people being treated as inferior citizens because of the colour of their skin. People like Martin Luther King Jr used non-violent civil disobedience to challenge laws that enforced segregation. People sat at lunch counters they weren’t meant to, travelled on buses that were for white people and ignored segregation rules. Even music, for example from the record company Motown Records, played a role by promoting black musicians and getting them in the public eye.

Supported by the then President, John F Kennedy, the movement grew and laws began to change. By 1963 racial segregation was illegal and discrimination on the grounds of race were illegal. But attitudes take longer to change- the first black person to attend the University of Mississippi was met by a crown of white students who wouldn’t let him in-the president had to send troops the next day. The CRM brought about amazing changes, reminds us how unequal things have been and  helps us to understand where some racist ideas may come from today.

Ryan (16) Peer Educator: This week we focused on the Black Civil Rights Movement. We looked at Rosa Parks, the lady who refused to move from her seat on the bus for a white person. We also learnt about Martin Luther King Jnr, one of the key figures in the movement. The kids were slightly unfocused but did have some good points and knew more about the subject than we thought. When they made posters they were very creative and utilized the information well.

Siofra (20) Manchester University Student: Thoroughly enjoyed the session. The powerpoint was informative and well presented. Everybody worked well within the group during the activities and it was evident that  the young people were interested in the issues being discussed. Overall, I learnt a lot of facts on the Black Civil Rights Movement and found the session very useful.

Emma (19) Manchester University Student: As I was not fully aware of what exactly the Black Civil Rights Movement was about I found this session very informative and the powerpoint that was used was clear and easy to understand. Throughout the session we played different activities which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. By the end of the session I was a lot clearer on the Black Civil Rights Movement and what and who it involved.


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