What were conditions like for black people in the US in the early 1960s?

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The early 1960s marked the most difficult years of struggle in the civil rights movement, yet the period where the movement scored its most significant victories. In these years, African Americans in the South faced legal discrimination, Jim Crow segregation, and obstacles to voting. These were the barriers that the...

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The early 1960s marked the most difficult years of struggle in the civil rights movement, yet the period where the movement scored its most significant victories. In these years, African Americans in the South faced legal discrimination, Jim Crow segregation, and obstacles to voting. These were the barriers that the movement attempted—successfully in the end—to destroy. By 1964, the movement won its most significant victory with the Civil Rights Act, which ended de jure segregation. One year later, the Voting Rights Act eliminated most legal and political barriers to voting. These gains were hard won and occurred only because of a truly mass movement rooted in African American communities. But their victories were not complete.

Economically, during the early 1960s, millions of African Americans lived in poverty, whether in the rural South or in inner-city neighborhoods in the North. Despite the intentions of many of its leaders, the civil rights movement could not overcome these issues. Moreover, discriminatory practices continued, even under law, across the nation. Among many other things, African Americans in the 1960s found it difficult to get home loans, to secure high-paying jobs, and to get elected to public office. Despite the gains of the early 1960s, many of the disparities and inequalities that characterized American society persisted. These contributed to further unrest later in the decade.

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