Throughout 1950 to the 1960s there was a lot of racial tensions regarding people who were not white. Segregation was a huge part of this including bathrooms, water fountains, transportation, and education. African American people were still being mistreated, performing the same type of labor as the slavery times, except with little payment. Laws were put in place, such as the Jim Crow laws. These laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation (“Jim Crow Laws”). Martin Luther King Jr was an unquestioned leader of the peaceful Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was at the same time one of the most beloved and one of the most hated men of his time (“Martin Luther King Jr”). He did many things to influence the movement such as speeches and protests regarding discrimination. Martin Luther King was an active socialist activist and a Baptist minister. He was also a key leader in the watershed events and the Montgomery bus boycott. He was also a key leader during the March on Washington. During this event, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “I Have a Dream”. ‘“this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” (“Martin Luther King Jr”).
This speech was a call for peace and equality which was also televised and shown to millions. After his speech was televised, along with the violence, many Americans became supporting this movement. Rosa Parks helped initiate the civil rights movement. Most of the faces we know from the Civil Rights struggle are images of young, bold, idealistic people (“Understanding the Historical Impact of Rosa Parks by Monica Sanders”). She did this by taking a stand and refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus. She was upset with the daily frustrations, blacks could only attend certain (inferior) schools, only drink from specific water fountains, segregated libraries and lots of other restrictions (“Rosa Parks”). This impacted the civil rights movement greatly, she saw an end to legalized segregation in America and the emergence of a Black upper and middle class (“Understanding the Historical Impact of Rosa Parks by Monica Sanders”).
The Birmingham Children’s March was a non-violent protest involving African American children who wanted to stand up for their rights. “The goal of the plan was to use tactics of non-violent protest to provoke Birmingham civic and business leaders to agree to desegregate.” (“KIM GILMORE”). This movement started in 1963, during the time that Martin Luther King Jr led thousands of African Americans. Kim states, “On May 2nd, they left the 16th Street Baptist Church in groups, heading throughout the city to protest segregation peacefully” (Kim Gilmore). They were planning on meeting with the mayor to talk about the segregation and discrimination in their cities peacefully. The response to this protest was not as peaceful. Hundreds of children were arrested and brutally beaten. Despite the results of the protest many children continued to volunteer in the protest. On May 10th an agreement was made to end the protests, desegregate businesses and to free all who were put in jail.
“The city was in the world spotlight, and local officials knew that they could no longer ignore the Civil Rights Movement,” says Kim Gilmore. During the 1950s and the 1960s, racial discrimination and segregation was a big issue and angered African Americans. African Americans were segregated from the whites in bathrooms, water fountains, education, and transportation. People who were African American were also being treated unfairly and they had had enough, which led to the Civil Rights movement. Laws, such as the Jim Crow laws, were put in place along with many violent protests.