How did the Civil Rights Movement gain force in the 1950s?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To a great extent, there was much in the time period that allowed the Civil Rights Movement to gain force and become something that would end up shaping modern America.  Initially, I would suggest that the conformity and the desire for "the norm" that was such a part of the 1950s had a tremendous consequence.  The idea of "keeping up with the Joneses" and a condition whereby more people were "the outsiders" because they could not be see as "the insiders" helped to create an understanding in which "the other" was more prevalent.  The fight for Civil Rights was a part of this landscape.  At the same time, the judicial activism that was embodied by Justices like Earl Warren helped to set the stage for the social activism that hosted the Civil Rights Movement.  Warren's decisions largely spoke for these "outsiders" and ensured that issues such as equal protection under the law or equal application of the law was tantamount to the fulfillment of the goals in the Constitution.  Decisions like Brown v. Board Education went very far in ensuring that Civil Rights was something that became embedded in the minds of every American.  The desegregation of public facilities ending and their integration "with all deliberate speed" helped to create the legal basis for the Civli Rights Movement, something that moved socially.  Just the mere words, "with all deliberate speed," would help to inspire the calls of Civil Rights Leaders who demanded that "all deliberate speed" translated to "the fierce urgency of now."

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