Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

Start Free Trial

In what ways did the Civil Rights Movement succeed?

The Civil Rights Movements succeeded in a variety of ways, especially in the resulting lawful, legislative, and social changes. Brown v Board of Education was particularly powerful in that it ended racially separated public schools. Congress, as a result of the movement, passed measures against discrimination, including the Fair Housing Act. Stereotypes surrounding African Americans also began to change as equality became increasingly mainstream. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Civil Rights Movement succeeded in ending segregation. Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation in schools and set a precedent for making segregation illegal. This opened up public services for African Americans and made it illegal for businesses to discriminate against people based on their race. Though there were some riots when some schools were forced to integrate, the experience has been largely positive for society as it is now common for people of different races to interact.

Another thing that came out of the movement was the dropping of literacy tests and poll taxes as a requirement to vote. By removing these qualifications, more people are able to actively take part in elections. Even though African Americans had been citizens of the United States since 1868, they could now enjoy their citizenship fully without barriers to suffrage.

Another positive thing that came out of the movement was that most of the United States gained an appreciation for the struggle that black Americans faced. Due to well-spoken leaders and peaceful protests, many people viewed the civil rights movement as the right thing to do as a country. The movement also set a precedent for other peaceful protests later in the century and beyond. There had previously been laws protecting African Americans but they largely failed due to lack of enforcement; changing people's perceptions was the greatest legacy of the movement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team


An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Civil Rights movement won judicial, legislative, and moral victories. Judicially, the Supreme Court supported integrated public schools in Brown v. The Board of Education. The Supreme Court also backed the enforcement of black voter rights in states with histories of discrimination against black voters. It also struck down state laws forbidding interracial marriage.

Legislatively, Congress passed a number of laws, including the Fair Housing Act, which forbid segregation by neighborhood. Whites could now no longer legally refuse to sell their homes to blacks and real estate agents could not "steer" blacks and whites to certain neighborhoods. Additionally, real estate agents could no longer refuse to show a black person a certain home or refuse to deliver an offer on a home. Anti-discrimination laws forbade employers rejecting a candidate on the basis of race. Congress attempted to put teeth into these provisions by setting up watchdog organizations such as the EEOC to handle complaints of discrimination on the job.

The Civil Rights movement also represented a moral victory in changing the majority of white people's perceptions of blacks. By presenting blacks as dignified, nonviolent, intelligent, and hardworking, the movement helped overturn negative stereotypes of blacks and made it easier for whites to accept blacks as equals. 

Of course, all of these measures were imperfect. Racism persists, and the country still faces many problems brought on by racial inequality.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Civil Rights Movement succeeded in at least two main ways. First, it succeeded in that it won more legal rights for African Americans. Second, it succeeded because it helped to create a less racist society, one where whites and blacks get...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

along better (though by no means perfectly).

The clearest success of the Civil Rights Movement is the fact that African Americans now have all of the same rights that white Americans have. Before the Civil Rights Movement, segregation and discrimination were legal. It was also legal for states to engage in a variety of activities that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The Civil Rights Movement was aimed in large part at doing away with these injustices. With the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this aim was accomplished. Segregation and discrimination are now illegal and states cannot use things like literacy tests to prevent African Americans from voting. Before the movement, African Americans had very few rights. Today, they have all the rights that other Americans do. This is the main reason why we can say that the Civil Rights Movement was a success.

The other way in which the Civil Rights Movement succeeded is less obvious and more debatable. However, I would argue that the movement succeeded by making American society less racist and more tolerant. Before the Civil Rights Movement, it was perfectly acceptable to be openly racist in much of American society. In most parts of the United States, very few white and black Americans associated with one another as equals. It would have been unthinkable, for the most part, to have black teachers teaching white students, black police arresting white people, and black government officials helping to govern white constituents. Today, none of these things are remarkable. Today, there are very few places in the United States where it is acceptable to voice openly racist opinions. This is not to say that there is no racism, but there is much less than there once was. This is, in my view, a way in which the Civil Rights Movement succeeded.

I would argue, then, that the Civil Rights Movement succeeded because it won legal rights for African Americans and because it helped to create a society that is less racist and more just than the society that existed before the movement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what ways did the civil rights movement succeed and what made those successes possible?

After a long struggle, the Civil Rights movement accomplished many of its goals. By the end of the 1960s made many positive changes had been made by the movement.

With the Brown v Board of Education case, separate but equal schools were declared illegal. The "separate but equal" policy was created to keep the races apart but was rejected by this Supreme Court ruling.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott helped to end the practice of having separate seating sections on buses. African-Americans would no longer have to pay their fare at the front of the bus, get off the bus, enter through the back door, and sit in the back of the bus.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to have segregation in public places. No longer would there be separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains, or restaurants that only served whites.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped African-Americans register to vote. It also made the poll taxes and literacy tests illegal. These taxes and tests were designed to keep African-Americans from registering to vote and from voting.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 made it illegal to discriminate when renting an apartment or selling a house. The race of person could no longer be used as a factor when deciding to whom an apartment would be rented or to whom a house would be sold.

There are several factors that made these successes possible. One factor was the persistence of the African-American people to demand equal rights. African-Americans remained united in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and didn’t ride the buses for 381 days until segregation ended on the city buses of Montgomery.

Outstanding leadership was another reason for these successes. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., made wise decisions in leading the nonviolent protests. They were able to rally the people to the cause and keep them focused on the ultimate goal.

The bravery of the African-American people was another factor for these successes. They were brave to face the hate the white people showed toward them. The Little Rock Nine were incredibly brave kids to face this pressure. Other people were beaten for protesting nonviolently for their rights. Some were killed in doing this also. However, the protests continued until changes were made.

The coverage of some of these events by the media also helped. Many people couldn’t believe what they were reading in the newspapers or hearing on the radio. When they witnessed the violence with their own eyes on television, such as with the Selma March, this spurred many whites into demanding change along with the African-Americans who demanded change.

There were many successes made in the Civil Rights movement. There were many reasons why these successes occurred.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on