Civil Rights Movements’ achievements vs Black Power Movement ‘s achievements: Practice essay

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Civil Rights Movements’ achievements vs Black Power Movement ‘s achievements: Practice essay
Learner’s Book page 151
Assess according to the essay rubric on page 287 in the Learner’s Book.

Learners need to explain the aims and methods of each of the Black Power and Civil Rights Movements as well as to assess the achievements and long-term impact of each movement. Although Black Power made more radical promises, in practice the more moderate Civil

Rights Movement can be said to have brought about more lasting practical reforms in the removal of segregation. The impact of Black Power was more psychological. It gave a new sense of pride to many

African Americans but failed to achieve its ultimate goal of black political, economic and social power in a predominantly white society.


Both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power movement aimed to achieve lasting changes for African Americans in the USA. The Civil Rights Movement used tactics of passive resistance to challenge discriminatory laws and to bring about racial equality and integration.

The Black Power movement went further by rejecting integration into white-dominated American society and calling for black solidarity and autonomy. This had a powerful impact on the way many African Americans came to view themselves, but the Civil Rights Movement achieved more immediate gains in practical terms.

Aims and methods of the Civil Rights Movement

Aimed to challenge discriminatory laws and social practices in US South (e.g. segregation in buses, restaurants, schools, exclusion from voting registration)

Used peaceful tactics of passive resistance and civil disobedience against unjust laws (e.g. refusing to leave segregated facilities or demanding access to them, marches, not resisting when arrested or attacked)

Aimed to show injustice and violence of those opposing them and so win support and moral high ground among white Americans and the media

Achievements of the Civil Rights Movement

Leaders such as Martin Luther King gained wide respect and their tactics showed up the violence of supporters of white supremacy

Wide support shown at events such as the Washington March

Activities led to federal intervention (e.g. Civil Rights Act 1964, Voting Rights Act 1965)

But brought about little change in the social and economic position of African Americans, especially outside the South
Aims and methods of the Black Power Movement

Believed Civil Rights leaders were too moderate and that racial discrimination throughout USA needed to be challenged more aggressively

Rejected aim of integration into a predominantly white USA and called for black autonomy and self-defence, by violence if necessary (e.g. Black Panthers)

Rejected white values and belief systems and called for pride in black value systems

Made common cause with African political and cultural leaders, little concern with white opinion or the media
Achievements of the Black Power Movement

Gave many African Americans a new sense of strength, pride and purpose

Exposed the social and economic deprivation of many African Americans

Encouraged black businesses and enterprises

Demonstrated African American solidarity with wider cause of African liberation

But tactics alienated many white Americans and more moderate African Americans

Little practical gains were made to improve the economic and social position of most African Americans

The Black Power movement was too idealistic in its aims and its militant style alienated many Americans, both black and white. It therefore failed to achieve as many tangible results as the civil disobedience and passive resistance campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. Yet perhaps its ultimate achievement was to give a new sense of pride and determination to many African Americans which continues to this day.

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