What are the factors responsible for the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the US during 1960s?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many factors that were responsible for the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  Let us look at some of the more important factors:

  • Quality of black leadership.  The Civil Rights Movement was lucky to have good leaders.  The greatest of these leaders was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His charisma and his brilliant idea of using nonviolence were instrumental in making whites in the North support the idea of black rights.
  • WWII.  During the war, the US had engaged in a great deal of propaganda about how it was fighting to preserve democracy and human rights.  This was true, but it was also somewhat odd given how the country oppressed African Americans at home.  African Americans used this rhetoric, along with the fact that they helped fight for democracy, to assert a moral right to be treated equally after the war.
  • Cold War.  In the 1960s, the US was involved in the Cold War with the USSR.  Both sides wanted the support of black and brown people around the world.  Many American leaders felt that segregation and discrimination made the US look bad to these people and would therefore help the Soviets.  These leaders pushed for greater rights of African Americans as a way to help fight communism.
  • Black migration to the North.  During and after WWI, blacks had started moving north.  They came for factory jobs and to escape the blatant racism of the South.  In the North, they had the right to vote.  In some places, this made them an important voting bloc and encouraged politicians to care about black demands.
  • The media, particularly visual media.  African Americans used the media very well to get their message out.  When whites in the North saw the ways in which blacks in the South were being treated (like the famous pictures of peaceful marchers being attacked by police dogs), it helped convince them that the blacks’ cause was just.

All  of these factors helped the Civil Rights Movement succeed in the US in the 1960s.

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