Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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Analyze the changes in goals, strategies, and support of the 1960s African American civil rights movement.

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Earlier on in the push for African-American civil rights, the main method for achieving the ends that the movement expected was through litigation. For instance, in the case of Brown v. Board of education, the movement won a major victory when the Supreme Court ruled against segregating black and white students...

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into separate elementary schools.

The 1960s ushered changes in tactics used by the movement, and members began to pursue a more direct approach. The direct action involved participation in acts of non-violent civil disobedience. The mainstream African-American civil rights movement also extended a leading role in the process to the youths by initiating youth groups. The youth groups took the non-violent actions a notch higher by initiating sit-ins and jail-ins. The sit-ins were focused on occupying whites-only areas especially in the South, and when arrested, the youths would opt to stay in jail and overcrowd the facilities. Overcrowding in jail facilities and rampant sit-ins brought focus on their cause.

Civil action also continued to morph, and members of the movement took a leading role in pushing for economic and social equality.

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The major change of this sort happened after 1965.  Before 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had been pushing for legal rights.  It wanted the end to legalized segregation and to policies that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote.  These goals were pursued non-violently and the movement was supported by a large segment of the white population.

But after 1965, these earlier goals had been achieved.  The movement now started to push for things like economic equality and an end to de factosegregation.  There was also an increase in black nationalism.  Some leaders called for an end to nonviolence and there were many riots that flared up (though these were really not closely connected to the movement).  These new goals and attitudes were much more controversial among whites.  They did not want to have to make the sacrifices that might lead to greater economic equality.  They opposed things like affirmative action on both legal/moral grounds and because those things would hurt them economically.

As the goals of the movement (and the attitudes of some in it) became more controversial, the movement lost white support.

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