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Civil Rights Movement Essay

2067 words - 9 pages

Civil Rights Movement
Marilyn Hemingway
History 300
May 08, 2013
Dr. Goldstein

African Americans have experienced racial discrimination in virtually every single area of their lives. America has come a long way since the 1800’s when slavery was common, but that road certainly hasn’t been easy or short for Black American. Not long after the Civil War ended, African Americans experienced a form of racial segregation called Jim Crow. The name "Jim Crow" originated from a character in an early nineteenth-century minstrel show song. A white minstrel blackened his face and jigged around while singing. The "Jim ...view middle of the document...

The south also alienated a majority of African Americans through literacy tests and poll taxes discriminating against blacks who could not pass such tests by restricting their right to vote. Almost every southern state approved laws controlling voting rights in the years from 1871 to 1889. These limiting laws were launched in Georgia in 1871 and 1877, in Virginia in 1877 and 1884, in Mississippi in 1876, in South Carolina in 1882, and in Florida in 1888. The effects were devastating. More than half the African Americans who voted in Georgia and South Carolina in 1880 disappeared from the polling places in 1888. Florida’s black voting population decreased by 27 percent. Although poll taxes and literacy requirements in legal terms were designed to stop numerous uneducated Americans from voting, these requirements had loopholes exempting white Americans from paying poll taxes or performing read tests. One example in Oklahoma, anyone qualified to vote or anyone related to someone qualified to vote before 1866, was exempted from the literacy requirement. The only Americans who could vote before 1866 were whites therefore effectively exempting whites from the law.
The entrenched Jim Crow laws slowly crumbed. One significant black figure, Booker T. Washington, lead to the downfall of Jim Crow laws. Washington believed that education would provide the answer to the problems of African Americans. In a speech he gave in Atlanta, he detailed his plan named the Atlanta Plan. The Atlanta Plan involved accepting the system of the country as it is and working within the system to promote change. In sharp contrast, William Dubois, another noteworthy black leader, believed that protesting the system would force a change, rather than waiting and hoping for a change by the slow process of osmosis. Dubois founded the 20th century black protest. In one of the initial meetings, Dubois inspired the beginning of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, the Court’s view gradually changed from a pro-states' rights to one more concerned with the enforcement of the Bill of Rights and the preservation of human and civil rights. This was mostly due to the appointment of four new Justices, Hugo Black, 1937; Stanley Reed, 1938; Frank Murphy, 1940; and Robert Jackson, 1941. Finally, people began to contest Jim Crow laws. One of the first attempts to dislodge Jim Crow laws came in the case of Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada. A black student named Lloyd Gaines was denied admission to the white-only State University of Missouri Law School, so he took legal action. The Court did not force Missouri to accept Gaines. Instead, since Missouri had no black law school, the University was forced to pay for blacks to attend law school out of state or build a facility for black students. By making the continuation of segregated schools expensive, the Gaines’ decision was a huge stepping stone on the path towards the...

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