One country in the region. (2009) Assess the significance of Booker t washington in the advancement of African American rights. (2008) With reference to two

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11. Civil rights and social movements in the Americas

This section focuses on the origins, nature, challenges and achievements of civil rights movements after 1945. Movements represented the attempts to achieve equality for groups that were not recognized or accepted as full members of society. The groups challenged established authority and entrenched attitudes.

  • Native Americans and civil rights: Latin America, the United States and Canada

  • African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement: origins, tactics, and organizations; the US Supreme Court and legal challenges to segregation in education; ending of segregation in the South (1955-1965)

  • Role of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement; rise of the radical African American activism (1965-1968): Black Panthers; Black Muslims; Black Power and Malcolm X

  • Role of governments in civil rights movements in the Americas

  • Youth culture and protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s: characteristics and manifestation of a counterculture

  • Feminist movements in the Americas

Sample Questions:

  • How successful was the supreme court in challenging segregation in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s? (2009)

  • Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had similar philosophies but used different methods to campaign for civil rights.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? (2009)

  • For what reasons, and with what results, were women’s movements active between the 1960’s and the 1980’s? Illustrate your answer with examples from one country in the region. (2009)

  • Assess the significance of Booker T Washington in the advancement of African American rights. (2008)

  • With reference to two United States presidencies between 1945 and 1969, assess the role of the US Federal Government in the achievements of African American civil rights.

  • Why did the Native American movement emerge in one country of the region in the 1960’s?


Plessy v Ferguson-1896- Upholds the rights of states to have “separate but equal” facilities for whites and blacks do not violate the 14th Amendment (equal protection clause)

Early Activism-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded in 1909

  • WEB Dubois-first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard in Sociology, argues that through civil rights, suffrage and higher education for African Americans the goal of true equality could be met, Niagara movement (1905)

  • Booker T Washington-born into slavery, founder of the Tuskegee Institute (industrial training school), asserted that through hard work, frugality, cleanliness, and moderation African Americans could successfully integrate into American society despite rampant racism. Black loyalty to economic development and capitalist principles, often argued against more radical calls for civil rights or voting rights. “Atlanta Compromise”

Civil Rights in the 1950’s- (Gains made by black servicemen in WWII, Jackie Robinson 1947, realities of a Cold War society-who was really free?)


Truman: Creates a Committee on Civil Rights, first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction calling for the elimination of discrimination in federal establishment, equality in military services, Justice Department begins investigating and actively challenging the constitutionality of segregation in housing, education, and interstate transportation, influenced Supreme Court

Eisenhower: desegregate schools and sends national guard to enforce, civil rights make important strides but most leadership comes from elsewhere

Kennedy: Initial campaign promises to blacks, little action to support protesters, stop violence or to end housing discrimination. Finally in 1962 issues an executive order ending housing discrimination in federally financed housing projects. Forced to respond to intervene where violence erupts in Mississippi and Alabama. National address called for equal rights tried to pass bill against southern resistence

Johnson: as Senate majority leader from Texas he sponsored the Civil Rights Act (1957). As president somewhat more successful than Kennedy, Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws racial discrimination, authorizes greater federal enforcement, equal opportunity provision. Voting Rights Act 1965 closes loopholes in other voting legislation and singles out the south for obstructing black voter registration

Nixon/Ford/Carter: general weakening of federal commitment to civil rights

Specific Movements and Protests:

School integration: 1950’s, challenge Plessy v Ferguson with Brown v Board of Education (Topeka, KN) Ruling includes a recognition that separate facilities for blacks were inherently unequal and concludes that the “separate but equal” doctrine has no place in education

  • Eisenhower moves to desegrate schools in South, resistence (Little Rock) brings federal troops to keep peace and enforce desegregation

  • 1962-James Meredith applies and is accepted to the all white University of Mississippi but denied on racial grounds, Supreme Court upholds his admission, governor blocks his entrance, riots!

Restaurants:1960 students in Greensboro, NC sit down/in at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s

Public Transportation: Rosa Parks in Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955, successful by 1957, Freedom Riders (1961)

Voting Rights: Freedom Summer (1964) works to register black voters sponsored by SNCC and other civil rights organizations; violence in form of murder, beatings, arrests, church bombings, 1965 Voting Rights Act

March on Washington (1963)-Black leaders organize march to pressure passage of new civil rights bill, celebrities, “I have a dream” speech, 200,000 marchers…but Kennedy’s bill stuck by Southern resistance

Black Power: Younger members of civil rights organizations begin to challenge the leadership and tactics of King’s non-violent approach. Much is in response to continued discrimination even after the progress made on voting rights (1965) and other legislation (Civil Rights Act 1964). African Americans still have limited housing, job opportunities, fear and discrimination. Black Panthers

Conflicts: Non-violent protesters in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, but many local responses to protesters violent-Anniston and Birmingham Alabama during freedom rides, fire hoses, police beatings, etc ALL ON TV


Martin Luther King Jr.-minister for Baptist Church, becomes spokesperson of Montgomery bus Boycott, forms Southern Christian Leadership committee (SCLC)

Malcolm X: Dynamic spokesman of poor northern blacks, expressed frstration with pace and tactics of mainstream civil rights movement, supporting separatism, black nationalism, appealed to blacks to fight racism and discrimination “by any means necessary.” Assassinated in 1965.

Stokely Carmichael: Elected head of SNCC reflects growing radicalism of group in mid 1960’s, frustrated with civil disobedience, urged field-workers to carry weapons for self-defense. Black Power- broad based campaign to actively, forcefully seek independent black institutions


SNCC-student non-violent coordinating committee

CORE-Congress of Racial Equality

NAACP-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

SCLC-Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Black Panthers-vowed to eradicate racial discrimination and capitalism

Women’s Rights

Broad social change in the 1950’s and 1960’s

Married women enter work force

More women attending college

Civil Rights Act of 1964 limits discrimination on basis of gender

1966-Betty Friedan establishes National Organization for Women (NOW)

1968 Protest of Miss America pageant

1970’s-shift in work force, women college graduates working toward degrees in law, business, and medicine

1972-Title 9 of Education Amendments barred gender bias in education and intercollegiate sports funding

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)-“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the Unted States or by any state on account of sex” passed and working toward ratification (needed 38 states to ratify it-only got 35)

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