Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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How did change and improvement in African-Americans' civil rights in the South begin to happen?

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Change and improvement happened because African Americans pushed hard for their rights.  It was their actions that allowed change to begin.  But why were African Americans able to push for change at this point and not before?  The main reasons have to do with WWII and the Cold War.  WWII was fought partly against a racist Nazi regime.  The Cold War was supposed to be about democracy and human rights fighting communism.  Both of these made racism and segregation in the US seem less defensible.  As this occurred, many white Americans became more willing to support civil rights for African Americans.

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After decades of continuing deterioration in the civil rights of African-Americans, especially in the South, how did change and improvement finally begin to happen? 

It happened through the hard work and bravery of African Americans and because of changes in white American attitudes.

We all know about how bravely activists participated in the Civil Rights Movement.  They risked their lives at times to push for more rights.  This had a tremendous amount to do with the "change and improvement."

But the change would not have been possible without white support.  This was more forthcoming in part because of the needs of the country during the Cold War.  The US knew that it needed to gain the support of Third World countries in the struggle against communism.  Therefore it did not want to look like a racist country.  In addition, the greater number of blacks in the North where they could vote made it politically helpful for some Northern politicians to support civil rights.

In these ways, black efforts and changing white attitudes combined to make change possible.

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