Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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Did the Civil Rights Movement succeed in achieving its desired change? 

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The American Civil Rights Movement has had successes and failures. There have been significant improvements as a result of the movement, but there still are areas where full equality doesn't exist.

The American Civil Rights Movement used various techniques to achieve some of its goals. The NAACP often used the courts to achieve their goals. The Brown v Board of Education case led to the ending of the practice of separate but equal schools. Schools could no longer be segregated based on race. The Norris v Alabama case prevented African-Americans from being excluded from juries.

The movement also used various forms of protests. The Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the end of segregation on city buses. It was a common practice to have separate sections on buses for blacks and whites. The sit-in was used to highlight the segregation that took places in public places such as restaurants. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevented segregation in public places.

Marches were also used to highlight inequalities. The Selma March was designed to protest the lack of African-Americans that were registered to vote. The violent response by the police eventually led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Literacy tests and poll taxes could no longer be used to deny people the right to vote. Federal officials also helped to register voters.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 prevented discrimination in housing sales and rentals. It was now illegal to deny a person the opportunity to rent an apartment or buy a house based on their race.

These accomplishments brought about major changes. However, the Civil Rights Movement has not changed and improved everything. White attitudes took a long time to change. Many people resisted these changes and harassed and threatened African-Americans. The Southern Manifesto was an example of white opposition to the Brown v Board of Education Case. 101 southern members of Congress vowed to fight the case. The angry response to school desegregation orders was very visible at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Little Rock Nine needed military protection to go to school. James Meredith needed federal protection to register at the University of Mississippi. The Freedom Riders were attacked as they went to the South to try to achieve equality. The KKK was still strong in the South.

Today, African-Americans lag behind in economic opportunities. They make less money than whites make. They tend to have lower graduation rates than whites have. They have higher incarceration levels than whites have. Thus, while the Civil Rights Movement brought about many changes, we still don't have full equality in the United States.

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