How would you describe the American Civil Rights Movement? What issue was/is the movement trying to solve?

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The American Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s was an alternative political movement (or a social movement) whose goal was to improve the legal, and later the material, conditions of African Americans in the United States.

The Civil Rights Movement was trying to solve two main problems. ...

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The American Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s was an alternative political movement (or a social movement) whose goal was to improve the legal, and later the material, conditions of African Americans in the United States.

The Civil Rights Movement was trying to solve two main problems.  First was the fact that African Americans were second class citizens in legal terms.  African Americans were kept segregated from white Americans in most public accommodations in the South.  Blacks were generally forced to make do with less desirable schools, restrooms, seating on busses, and various other facilities. While they had the legal right to vote, they were typically prevented from doing so by various legal means.  In short, African Americans were not treated as the legal equals of whites.

The first phase of the Civil Rights Movement was meant to solve this problem.  The movement used lawsuits, political pressure, and public protests to try to end segregation.  This phase of the movement includes famous events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the protests for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, and the March on Washington.  This phase ended successfully when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The second problem that the movement was trying to solve was economic rather than legal.  African Americans suffered from higher rates of poverty than whites did.  In its second phase, the movement tried to remedy this situation.  However, the movement failed to solve this problem.  It would have been very difficult for it to succeed no matter what, but it was harmed significantly when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.  As a result of this failure, African Americans are still much less well-off than whites in America today. 

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