Civil Rights and Identity Politics
The struggle for equality has been an ongoing battle in the United
States. Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, significant victories were achieved by
various minorities on this front via the Civil Rights Movement. Events such as
the mass immigration of African Americans to the North during the second World
War, the heavily segregated South, and the federal government’s desire to
defend itself against Soviet propaganda were several important factors that
fueled the fight for equality. During this time, leaders like Martin Luther
King Jr., Malcolm X, and Caesar Chavez emerged as key figures in the Civil
Rights Movement. African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and
Native Americans organized in significant numbers, crying out for the equality
and freedom they deserved as citizens under the protection of the
Constitution. Issues of American inequality, segregation, and racial
integration manifested themselves into varying forms of mass protest, bringing
change to American society through legislation and a determination to see that
One cannot forget that the United States is a country founded through the
contributions of an ethnically diverse population. The Civil Rights Movement
raises the question of how such a pluralistic nation can continue to function
as an integrated whole if specific groups of citizens are denied the rights
that form the basis of the American ideal simply because of their skin color.
11.10 Students analyze the development of federal civil rights
and voting rights.
11.10.1 Explain how demands of African Americans helped
produce a stimulus for civil rights, including President Roosevelt's ban on
racial discrimination in defense industries in 1941, and how African Americans'
service in World War II produced a stimulus for President Truman's decision to
end segregation in the armed forces in 1948.
11.10.2 Examine and analyze the key events, policies, and
court cases in the evolution of civil rights, including Dred Scott v. Sandford,
Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Regents of the University of
California v. Bakke, and California Proposition 209.
11.10.3 Describe the collaboration on legal strategy
between African American and white civil rights lawyers to end racial
segregation in higher education.
11.10.4 Examine the roles of civil rights advocates (e.g.,
A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, James
Farmer, Rosa Parks), including the significance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
"Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "I Have a Dream" speech.
11.10.5 Discuss the diffusion of the civil rights movement
from the churches of the rural South and the urban North, including the
resistance to racial desegregation in Little Rock and Birmingham, and how the
advances influenced the agendas, strategies, and effectiveness of the quests of
American Indians, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans for civil rights and
11.10.6 Analyze the passage and effects of civil rights
and voting rights legislation (e.g., 1964 Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act of
1965) and the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, with an emphasis on equality of access to
education and to the political process.
When examining the Civil Rights
Movement in the 1960’s, one can see that there were many events that led up to
the massive social change that took place during this time. Not one single
event started the movement, but collectively the social and political sphere in
the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s the set the foundation for the people to gain momentum
and fight for their civil rights. It is very important that students have an
understanding of the events that built up to the Civil Rights Movement in the
1960’s. Without these events and social and political settings, the Civil
Rights Movement might not have taken place.
- AAA: Agriculture Adjustment
- Franklin Roosevelt developed many
programs through the New Deal. One of the programs was the AAA, which
demanded that farmers not plant full crops or cut down on the amount of live
stock that they had. This downsizing of farms was supposed to make prices
of food to go down, but there were other consequences. Not only did the AAA
decrease the amount of food available, but farmers fired many of their
tenant farmers and workers whom the majority of them were Black Americans.
With the displacement of Black Americans, many of them moved to cities to
find jobs. This movement of Black Americans from the rural areas to the
more urban areas allowed them to work together to start demanding changes.
Significance: Encouraged Black
Americans to move to the cities where the heart of the Civil Rights Movement
- World War II
- Black Soldiers who fought for
democracy in World War II had to face the reality that they did not these
rights in America. They did not want to risk their lives for a cause abroad
that they were losing at home. This hypocrisy caused the Black Americans to
question their role in society and why they were denied many of their civil
Significance: Black Americans
realized that they could accept the position that society put them in because
they had the right to the freedoms and liberties of the nation. After WWII,
Black Soldiers did not want to fight for a country that was denying them their
- Cold War
- United States had to confront the
racial inequality between minorities and Whites. This is because the United
States claimed to have the most liberal and free society compared to the
Soviet Union, however the US was hypocritical since Black American citizens
did not have the same rights as white citizens. The Jim Crow Laws were
still the rule of the land in the south.
- White, middle-class, nuclear family
was the focal point of the 50’s. Black Americans were held at such a
disadvantage that Americans realized that that there was a denial of civil
rights in the US.
Significance: This setting forced
the United States government and people to be more receptive to social change.
Minorities had the attention of the American people and government, so demanding
social change through protest and demonstrations were moving the process of
gaining civil rights forward.
Specifically examining the 1950’s, there were many events
that set the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement to take place.
- In order to understand how Black
Americans organized themselves in the beginning before leaders like Martin
Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X stepped forward, it is important to explain
the NAACP. The NAACP stands for National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People. This group was established in the early 1900’s, but
continued to play a vital role in advancing and starting the civil rights
movement in the 1960’s. NAACP focused on the advancement and changing of
legal and court action. The NAACP would later be replaced with the SNCC and
SCLC, which focus on peaceful civil disobedience.
- Some civil rights protests that the
NAACP were involved in: Desegregation of schools- Brown vs. Board of
Education, Desegregating of public areas- Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Significance: This group, NAACP,
was able to organize two very important events that set the stage for Black
Americans to gain their civil rights through court cases. This organization
ended the Jim Crow Laws and segregation that was prevalent in the south. The
NAACP also set the foundation for the very important SNCC and SCLC, which
continued to organize Black Americans to gain their civil rights
- Brown vs. Board of Education- 1954
- A court case that challenged
“separate but equal” public facilities between Black and White Americans.
The “separate but equal” facilities were actually unequal and violated the
- Linda Brown, a young black student,
had to walk much further to her black school because she was not allowed to
attend the white school that was a block away. The Brown family fought in
court to end segregation of school based on race.
- Decision of the court Justices was
unanimous that “separate but equal” schools were in violation of civil
The effects and significance of
this court case and decision:
Desegregating school was a slow process. Southern schools found ways
around the court ruling.
Lack of Eisenhower’s support delayed progress of desegregation.
Little Rock: Nine Black students attended a White school in Arkansas.
President Eisenhower sent in 1000 paratroops to control the situation and finish
out the year with the students.
Significance: Southern schools,
regardless of the legislation outlawing segregated schools, still had hostile
feelings of the mixing of races.
Commission for Civil Rights was established, which involved federal
efforts to ensure the right to vote was protected for Black Americans.
- Montgomery Bus Boycott- 1955
- Rosa Parks did not give her seat on
the bus to a white man. Parks was arrested, which set the whole movement to
protest this racial segregation.
- Supreme Court ruled that the buses
segregation laws were unconstitutional.
-Women played a
vital role in promoting the protest of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They made
and passed out fliers to support the fight for their civil rights.
King Jr. emerged from this protest and started to take on leadership positions
in promoting civil disobedience to gain rights.
movement protesting came from this time, which was used during “sit-ins” at
segregated public areas.
- Kennedy’s Presidency
- Kennedy’s presidential finally set
the foundation for the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. He was young and his
attitude was focused on change. Many Black Americans felt that Kennedy was
the president that would change the social structure to be more
intergraded. Unfortunately, Kennedy lacked strong convictions to focus on
the civil rights movement. Nevertheless, there were some strides made to
secure civil rights for minorities.
Significance: Political action
taken: Robert Kennedy secures voting rights for southern blacks; Johnson headed
the Commission on Equal Employment Opportunities; Kennedy appointed Robert
Weaver to be chief of federal housing agency and Thurgood Marshall to U.S. Court
Circuit; Civil rights legislation was draft up and was being passed by Congress
by Kennedy’s death.
Lastly, Martin Luther King Jr.
and Kennedy created a relationship. The involvement of the President with a
Civil Rights leader created a perfect setting for the Civil Rights Movement to
The Civil Rights Movement was a
moment in history that advocated a series of reforms to eliminate public acts of
racial segregation, particularly in the South. The civil rights leaders of this
time engaged in different tactics. Thurgood Marshall advocated using the
judiciary to challenge discriminatory laws while Malcolm X employed radical
action and supported separatist views on racial relations. Martin Luther King,
however, encouraged non-violent protests and civil disobedience against laws
that were fundamentally unjust. The movement was fostered by religious
conviction (in the case of Malcolm X and Dr. King) and aided in the cause. Since
one of the major strategies employed during the movement was civil disobedience,
the media coverage of such events brought the cause to millions of people
watching the protests around the world. Though it was a very contentious time in
terms of race relations, the various kinds of protests and rallies was a major
factor in passing federal legislation that protected civil rights.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC):
The significance of introducing this organization is to show the students the
group that was responsible for the sit-in and freedom rides.
|Sit-Ins & Freedom Rides: The importance
of explaining these concepts is to show students civil disobedience in action
against segregation laws as well as effectiveness of these types of protests.|
Martin Luther King: As the central figure
in the Civil Rights Movement, it is imperative for the students to reexamine
(since they studied him in elementary) the role of Dr. King in leading the
movement. His powerful speeches and moving ideas of a society that is equal and
harmonious appealed to the mass who believed that violence between races needed
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC): It is important to inform the
student of the organization from which Dr. King derived his leadership. The
significance introducing this group is to explain their strategy of
non-violent and civil disobedient protests and how the protests were
|Birmingham Campaign: The significance of
explaining this events is to show the students not only the non-violent
protests at work but to show how the brutality from authorities (particularly
under the orders of Eugene “Bull” Connor) was covered by the media and brought
sympathy and passion to the civil rights cause from the world. This event also
led to the arrest of Dr. King and prompted him to write his famous “Letter
from Birmingham Jail”. |
|March on Washington of 1963: This large
and significant political rally is important to cover in a history class in
order to show how the mass rally was a major factor in passing the civil
rights legislation. It also served as a picturesque gathering that showed the
amount of support that the Civil Rights Movement had. Perhaps the most
significant part of this event was Dr. King’s delivery of the “I Have A Dream”
Passage of Federal Civil Rights
Legislation: It is important to introduce these laws to the students in order to
explain the significance of the Civil Rights Movements and its mission. The
passage of civil rights legislation, which abolished racial discrimination in
the public sector and guaranteed voting rights and protection, was considered
the goals that the movement worked to achieve.
“Letter From Birmingham Jail” - This source
is important to shows the students the reasoning behind Dr. King’s advocacy of
civil disobedience against unjust laws. This letter served as an answer to those
who advocated bringing civil rights issues to court rather than through
“I Have A Dream” Speech (possibly in audio)
– The speech by Dr. King is one the most important primary sources for the
students to examine (and hear) as it lays out the focal points of the movement
and explores a future that is in racial harmony. Since the eloquent speech is
noticeably more powerful when heard by the actual speaker (Dr. King), I feel it
is important for the students to hear the original speech that was given to the
large audience in the Washington D.C. Hearing the speech would draw more
attention from the student and allow them to hear exactly what the whole world
heard during that event.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 & 1968 – This
source shows the actual legislation that abolished racial segregation in public
facilities and forbade discrimination in the sale or renting houses. This source
is significant as it shows the achievements by the Civil Rights Movement.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 - This source,
like the Civil Rights Act, is the actual legislation that outlawed literacy
tests as a requirement for voting and established federal registration and
protection for voters. This source is significant as it shows another
achievement by the Civil Rights Movement.
Pictures: I will use various picture of the
protests and marches to give the student visual sense of what the Civil Rights
Movement looked like and how some pictures can bring about powerful emotions for
The cry for African American equality spread from the South to the rest of
A ghettoized population
Racism adapted to new legislation
Tensions flared throughout urban America.
From "their" problem to "our" problem
More riots throughout the latter half of the 60’s
Detroit 1967 - 43 dead, 7,000 arrested, 1,300 destroyed buildings,
2,700 looted shops
Was nonviolence really getting anyone anywhere?
Students need to be aware that the struggle for civil rights was not
confined to the South and that Watts Riot played an important role as a
transitional force in the movement for equality.
Students should understand that despite the passage of new legislation,
the condition of many African Americans, especially those living in
crowded urban areas, was not improving.
Students should be familiar with the principal factors that led a
number of African Americans to dismiss nonviolent protest as a realistic
means for achieving their goals.
He grew up in poverty.
Top of his junior high class
He wanted to be a lawyer
He was told this was "no realistic goal for a nigger"
He turned to crime.
New York City
The ways of the ghetto
He went to prison.
Students should be familiar with Malcolm’s background in order to
better understand the point of view he would develop and the messages he
Students should be able to compare and contrast the conditions Martin
Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X faced growing up, and connect these
differences to their opposing perspectives.
Malcolm Little became Malcolm X.
The Nation of Islam
African American nationalism
Malcolm X had something to say.
Malcolm X had an audience.
Primarily poor African Americans living in ghettos
Students should be familiar with Malcolm X’s message and be able to
detect its influence in the black power movement.
Students should understand why Malcolm X’s message was received with
enthusiasm by many ghettoized African Americans.
Students should be aware of why Malcolm X was perceived as a threat to
the status quo.
Frustrations mounted among SNCC members.
SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael
The insult of assimilation
Chants for black power became louder.
Students should be able to contextualize the growth of the black power
Students should be able to identify Carmichael with the popularization
of the term and the movement
Students should understand the basic principles underlying the black
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was a byproduct of the black power movement.
Frustrated African American youths
Influenced by Malcolm X
More aggressive, more confrontational
The Black Panther’s political philosophy was shaped partly by communist
"Power to the people"
Ten-Point Program and Platform
of the Black Student Unions was
distributed throughout African American communities.
Students should understand the forces that influenced the Black Panther
Students should be familiar with the Black Panther’s message and have
the ability to compare and contrast the party’s beliefs and tactics with
those of the overarching black power movement.
Black Panther Party
White law enforcement was seen as a principal source of racism.
Violent confrontations between African Americans and white police
Targeted by the FBI, state, and local authorities
The Black Panther Party ultimately crumbled.
Students should be able to understand events related to the Black
Panther Party within the context of the Cold War.
Black Is Beautiful
The call for black power was more than just a call for political and social
Students should be aware that the principal ideas behind
the black power movement manifested themselves in a variety of ways,
including a revitalized pride in African heritage.
Significance: The black power movement provided an outlet for varying
groups of African Americans to vent their frustrations in different ways.
Students should be aware that the manifestations of this movement attracted
widespread attention, both positive and negative. The more radical groups were
eyed with suspicion by the FBI and generally did not obtain the degree of
support that less extreme movements did. Students should also keep in mind
that Martin Luther King Jr. remained a key figure in the fight for equality.
Finally, the impact the black power movement had on motivating other minority
groups in the country to take a stand for their rights should be highlighted.
Chicano Movement and other Cultural Efforts for equality
Native Americans/Red Power
Asian Americans/Yellow Power
Sig: The events taking place in the African American community
were an example for these minorities and paved the road for their organization
for changes and redefinition.
Background: Spent most of life working in the fields and looking for work
-Important for students because he knew the harsh realities of working the
fields. This led to involvement in organizing for better conditions
1962 traveled California visiting farm communities and inspired workers to
do something about their condition
-Sig: Chavez was a lone man trying to lobby together farm workers. It shows
his commitment to his people and hope to gain more numbers.
Inspired by MLK and Ghandi
Pledge of non-violence by strikers
- Chavez conducted a 25 day fast to recommit to non-violence
It epitomized his approach to social change
- Sen. Robert Kennedy in Delano at end of first fast to break
Sig: Through Chavez’s non-violent tactics he was able to gain
members and support from a senator. But his fast also shows
his dedication and sacrifice.
Poem written by Chavez
United Farm Workers-Viva La Causa!
1962 Chavez and Dolores Huerta started National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)
-Sig: Unified the some 1200 workers to organize strikes. This allowed him
to accomplish what he envisioned for Chicanos.
1965 Merged with Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee- Filipino union
- strike with Delano grape growers- 5 years and support from millions of
Delano grape boycott turned into La Causa
Sig: was not just about farm workers but anyone who wanted to set their
lives aside and make a difference
1966 March from Delano to Sacramento. Chavez hopes to dramatize strike
and gain support from Governor Pat Brown. March left with 75 people- 10,000
supporters once they reached Sacramento.
Sig: By ’66 the strike was starting to receive attention and more
supporters of La Causa.
By 1970 UFW signed contracts with grape growers-agreed to health
insurance and pay increases
Sig: Students can know that the strikes had worked and the long haul had
paid off. Many of the rights that farm workers have today stem from the
UFW’s achievements in the 1960s.
Brown Berets-Chicano Urban Movement
Comprised mostly of youth revolutionaries-wanted to redefine themselves
Wore brown berets as symbol against oppression and form of unity
-Represented their militant approach
-March 1, 1968 planned and participated "blowouts" in east L.A. Thousands
of students walked out of classrooms in hope for better education. There
were many more walkouts throughout the southwest.
Took "direct action" against police brutality. They protested and exposed
the L.A. sheriff department’s abuses in the barrio.
Sig: Examine two different movements of urban youth and rural farm
workers. urban movement was a result of UFW, but they were fighting for
something different and in a different manner.
Interview: Carlos Montes
American Indian Movement (AIM): organization to promote
unification of Indians regardless of tribe or differences.
-Sig: They did not have a central leader, but were made up of chapters
throughout cities. This allowed unification among many different tribes.
Wanted to establish recognition of international treaties
-Sig: Treaties were important because it documented the violations of the
government. AIM went to extremes to prove that the United States government
had broken treaties and their rights as American Indians .
Wounded Knee: AIM leaders and Sioux seized city of Wounded Knee-site of
Sioux massacre by 7th Calvary 1890. Occupation wanted to draw
attention not only to treaties but to conditions of the Sioux.
Alcatraz Island: 3 different occupations. November 1969 led by Richard
Oakes and young urban Indians, represented by " Indians of all Tribes."
- Native Americans wanted the deed of the Alcatraz Island, make a
university, create a cultural center and museum.
-Sig: Both of these events demonstrates that AIM was a organization that
took extreme measures to express their lack of civil rights. Native Americans
wanted the public to understand their need for self-determination.
This movement was mostly centered in the western United States. It was
concentrated in the Bay Area where there was a high percentage of Asian
Debate of Asian American definition
Oriental-means the east, but carries cultural colonial baggage
Students on campuses began term Asian-American
Slogans read, "Yellow Power" and "Yellow is Beautiful"
San Francisco State and UC Berkeley 1968 and 1969
-students went on strike demanding programs in Asian American Studies
Vietnam War: concerned about portrayal of Asians through media. Wanted to
be reflected in positive light.
Sig: Asian Americans begin to come together to redefine themselves and
demand for certain equalities. They wanted to be empowered by their