Portal:Civil rights movement

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The 1963 March on Washington participants and leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial

The civil rights movement was a political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish institutional racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement throughout the United States. The movement had its origins in the Reconstruction era during the late 19th century, although it made its largest legislative gains in the 1960s after years of direct actions and grassroots protests. The social movement's major nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience campaigns eventually secured new protections in federal law for the civil rights of all Americans.

After the American Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery in the 1860s, the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution granted emancipation and constitutional rights of citizenship to all African Americans, most of whom had recently been enslaved. For a short period of time, African American men voted and held political office, but as time went on they were increasingly deprived of civil rights, often under the racist Jim Crow laws, and African Americans were subjected to discrimination and sustained violence by white supremacists in the South. Over the following century, various efforts were made by African Americans to secure their legal and civil rights, such as the civil rights movement (1865–1896) and the civil rights movement (1896–1954). The movement was characterized by nonviolent mass protests and civil disobedience following highly publicized events such as the lynching of Emmett Till. These included boycotts such as the Montgomery bus boycott,"sit-ins" such as the Greensboro and Nashville sit-ins, and marches such as the Selma to Montgomery marches.

At the culmination of a legal strategy pursued by African Americans, in 1954 the Supreme Court struck down many of the laws that had allowed racial segregation and discrimination to be legal in the United States as unconstitutional. The Warren Court made a series of landmark rulings against racist discrimination, including the separate but equal doctrine, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964), and Loving v. Virginia (1967) which banned segregation in public schools and public accommodations, and struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage. The rulings played a crucial role in bringing an end to the segregationist Jim Crow laws prevalent in the Southern states. In the 1960s, moderates in the movement worked with the United States Congress to achieve the passage of several significant pieces of federal legislation that authorized oversight and enforcement of civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly banned all discrimination based on race, including racial segregation in schools, businesses, and in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored and protected voting rights by authorizing federal oversight of registration and elections in areas with historic under-representation of minority voters. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. (Full article...)

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between civil and human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book's epilogue. He described their collaborative process and the events at the end of Malcolm X's life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book's publication regarded Haley as the book's ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to create the effect of Malcolm X speaking directly to readers. Haley influenced some of Malcolm X's literary choices. For example, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam during the period when he was working on the book with Haley. Rather than rewriting earlier chapters as a polemic against the Nation which Malcolm X had rejected, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of "suspense and drama". According to Manning Marable, "Haley was particularly worried about what he viewed as Malcolm X's anti-Semitism" and he rewrote material to eliminate it.

When the Autobiography was published, The New York Times reviewer described it as a "brilliant, painful, important book". In 1967, historian John William Ward wrote that it would become a classic American autobiography. In 1998, Time named The Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of ten "required reading" nonfiction books. James Baldwin and Arnold Perl adapted the book as a film; their screenplay provided the source material for Spike Lee's 1992 film Malcolm X. (Full article...)
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Portrait of King
King in 1964

Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. An African American church leader and the son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr., King advanced civil rights for people of color in the United States through nonviolence and civil disobedience. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi, he led targeted, nonviolent resistance against Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination.

King participated in and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other civil rights. He oversaw the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As president of the SCLC, he led the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King was one of the leaders of the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The civil rights movement achieved pivotal legislative gains in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. (Full article...)

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FBI Poster of Missing Civil Rights Workers.jpg
Missing persons poster created by the FBI in 1964, signed by the Director J. Edgar Hoover. Shows the photographs of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner. All three were found to have been later murdered by local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Neshoba County Sheriff's Office as well as the Philadelphia, Mississippi Police Department were involved in the incident.

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