Loading...

HIST212: Introduction to United States History - Reconstruction to the Present

Unit 8: The Civil Rights Movement   *Reconstruction offered African-Americans a chance to participate in the American political process and exercise their civil rights, but this opportunity was short-lived in many southern states. Once Reconstruction ended in 1877, African-Americans faced harassment, violence, and intimidation at the polling booth. Jim Crow laws segregated African-Americans from white society and denied them equal rights and protections. Lynch mobs killed blacks that challenged white rule. African-American leaders in the North organized political campaigns to challenge segregation and discrimination and expose lynch-mob justice. By the end of the Second World War, this burgeoning civil rights movement began to have an impact on American society. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine from the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision in the landmark Brown v. Board decision. This decision spurred civil rights organizers to push for voter rights legislation and challenge racist southern political leaders who refused to integrate public facilities. 

In this unit, we will look at the historical origins of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and examine the legacies of various civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. We will also look at the broader social and cultural consequences of the Civil Rights Movements, including the emergence of the modern Feminist Movement, Gay and Lesbian Rights Movements, and the Ethnic Rights Movements of the 1960s and 1970s.  *

Unit 8 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 10.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 8.4: 2 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • explain how the Civil Rights Movement reshaped domestic political and social institutions in the United States; 
  • analyze the origins of the Civil Rights Movement;
  • identify key individuals and organizations involved in the Civil Rights Movement;
  • identify new social movements, which were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement that emerged in this period and sought equality and social justice for historically oppressed peoples; and
  • analyze and interpret primary source documents from the twentieth century, using historical research methods.

  • Reading: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 12: Postwar America” and “Chapter 13: Decades of Change—1960-1980” Links: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 12: Postwar America” and “Chapter 13: Decades of Change—1960-1980” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read the final 2 sections of Chapter 12 beginning with “The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement” and the first 4 sections of Chapter 13 ending with “The Native-American Movement.” 
     
    Note on the Text: These chapters focus on the origins of the civil right movement in the United States in the mid-1950s and its development into a mass movement during the first half of the 1960s. Chapter 13 also discusses how the civil rights movement affected a broad spectrum of the American population including women, Latinos, and Native-Americans.
     
    Reading these chapters should take approximately 20 minutes. 

    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

8.1 The Formation of a Mass Movement   - Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Roots of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” presentation Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Roots of the Modern Civil Rights Movement presentation (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this video.  

 Watching this lecture should take approximately 34 minutes.

8.1.1 Brown v. Board of Education   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the presentation. Watch the first section of the video presentation titled Brown v. Board of Education and read the accompanying text.
 
Note on the Media: This presentation focuses on the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the “separate but equal” legal doctrine that had permitted legalized segregation in public education since the 1890s. 

 Reading this text and watching the video should take approximately
25 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Chief Justice Earl Warren’s “Majority Opinion, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954” Link: Chief Justice Earl Warren’s “Majority Opinion, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka,Kansas,1954” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read the primary-source document on the website. 
     
    Note on the Text: In the Brown v. Board of Education majority opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren states that the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public education is unconstitutional, because it denies Americans equal protection under the law. The ruling would play a major role in providing a legal basis for civil rights political campaigns of the 1960s. After reading this document, consider the following questions: According to Chief Justice Earl Warren, why did segregated schools violate the Fourteenth amendment? How does this decision compare and contrast with the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision (see section 1.3.3)?

    Reading this primary-source should take approximately 20 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

8.1.2 Montgomery and Grassroots Protests   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch section 2 of the presentation titled “Civil Unrest” and read the accompanying text. 
 
Note on the Media: Section 2 focuses on grassroots efforts to challenge segregation in the South. It highlights efforts by civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., to draw nationwide attention to their cause by engaging in non-violent civil disobedience campaigns against segregation in public institutions and public accommodations. In this section, click and read the accompanying text, “Rosa Parks,” which includes an interview concerning her historic act of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.

 Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately
25 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.2 Integration Campaigns in the South   8.2.1 Youth Revolt: Freedom Rides   - Reading: Swarthmore College: Global Nonviolent Action Database’s “Freedom Riders end Racial Segregation in Southern U.S. Public Transit, 1961” Link: Swarthmore College: Global Nonviolent Action Database’s “Freedom Riders end Racial Segregation in Southern U.S. Public Transit,1961” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this resource.

 This webpage concerns the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights
Movement. Many college students sought to desegregate public
accommodations in the early 1960s. These young people hoped to
undermine the institution of segregation in southern states and draw
national attention to racial inequalities in the South.  

 Reading this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

8.2.2 Birmingham and Martin Luther King   - Reading: Swarthmore College: Global Nonviolent Action Database’s “African Americans Campaign for Equal Accommodations, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 1963” Link: Swarthmore College: Global Nonviolent Action Database’s “African Americans Campaign for Equal Accommodations, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 1963” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage. 

 Note that this webpage focuses on the landmark desegregation
campaign that Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference waged in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. King’s
nonviolent protests met with a violent response in Birmingham. White
segregationists blew up black churches and homes and attached
marchers. Nationwide public disgust with these actions enabled King
and his followers to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict
that committed white city leaders to desegregate public
facilities.  

 Reading these resources should take approximately 20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

8.2.3 The March on Washington   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 71—Challenging Jim Crow” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch the third part of the video presentation titled “March on Washington” and read the accompanying text. In this part, click the accompanying text, “I Have a Dream” and read an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s famous speech in Washington D.C. in 1963. Also in this section click the accompanying text, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and read an excerpt from this letter in 1963 by Martin Luther King to fellow clergy in which he discusses the purpose of his civil disobedience campaigns in the South. 
 
Note on the Media: This section of the video presentation focuses on the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1963. Organizers hoped to put pressure on President John F. Kennedy and Congress to pass civil rights legislation.

 Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately
30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.2.4 The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 72—Consequences of the Civil Rights Movement” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course“Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 72—Consequences of the Civil Rights Movement” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the presentation. Then, view section 1 of the video presentation titled “Civil Rights Legislation” and read the accompanying text.  

 Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately
25 minutes.  
    
 Note on the Media: Section one of the presentation focuses on the
landmark civil rights bills of 1964 and 1965. Kennedy’s successor,
President Lyndon B. Johnson pressured Congress to pass legislation
banning discrimination in employment and public accommodations and
assuring voting rights for minorities. Congress finally responded
with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.3 Radical Separatism and the Fragmentation of the Civil Rights Movement   - Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Civil Rights Movement: Integration and Segregation” presentation Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Civil Rights Movement: Integration and Segregation presentation (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this video.  

 Watching the lecture should take approximately 30 minutes.  
  

8.3.1 The Black Power Movement   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 72—Consequences of the Civil Rights Movement” presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: ** “Unit 10: Turbulent Decades, Chapter 24: Civil Rights Movement, Lesson 72—Consequences of the Civil Rights Movement” presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch section 3 of the presentation called “Rise of Black Power” and read the accompanying text.
 
Note on the Media: Section 3 focuses on urban African-Americans’ growing discontent regarding their lack of social equality and economic opportunities and the emergence of a radical civil rights movement that called for black empowerment and separation from white society in the United States.

 Reading this text should take approximately 25 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Notre Dame, OpenCourseWare: African American History II: Richard B. Pierce’s “Activism Choices” Link: Reading: University of Notre Dame, OpenCourseWare: African American History II: Richard B. Pierce’s “Activism Choices” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage.

    Note that this webpage discusses the rise of a militant, black nationalist movement in the mid-1960s that demanded greater economic and social opportunities for blacks living in America’s cities. Black nationalists argued that white oppression and discrimination were responsible for poverty, violence, and other problems within the black community and argued that African-Americans needed to embrace their African heritage and demand social and economic equality using force if necessary.

    Reading this resource should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Malcolm X’s “Malcolm X Explains Black Nationalism” Link: YouTube: Malcolm X’s “Malcolm X Explains Black Nationalism” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video.
     
    Note on the Media: In this 1964 speech, Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X discusses the sources of black frustration in the United States and explains why militant nationalism is a necessary tool in African-Americans’ struggle for social justice and economic equality. After listening to this speech, consider the following questions: Based on this speech, what would have been Malcolm’s X’s opinion of the tactics employed by Martin Luther King to obtain civil rights for African Americans? What would have been Malcolm X’s opinion of the pending Civil Rights Act of 1964?

    Watching this video and considering the questions should take approximately 5 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.3.2 White Backlash   - Reading: European Journal of American Studies: Patrick Hagopian’s “The ‘Frustrated Hawks’, Tet 1968, and the Transformation of American Politics” Link: European Journal of American Studies: Patrick Hagopian’s “The ‘Frustrated Hawks’, Tet 1968, and the Transformation of American Politics (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read section 1 of this article, “The Rise of Conservatism and the ‘Frustrated Hawks’”. Note that white disenchantment with the civil rights movement and its gradual decline followed the major gains of the mid-1960s. 

 Reading this section should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.  
  

8.3.3 Keeping the Dream Alive   - Lecture: iTunes U: Stanford University: Clayborne Carson’s ”African American History: The Modern Freedom Struggle” Link: iTunes U: Stanford University: Clayborne Carson’s “African American History: The Modern Freedom Struggle” (iTunes)
 
Instructions: Select lecture 11, “Clarence Jones on King.” Clarence Jones worked with Martin Luther King, and he discusses his experiences and the legacy of this Civil Rights leader. Jones discusses some of the major milestones of the Civil Rights Movement.

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above

8.4 Offshoots of the Civil Rights Movements   8.4.1 Women’s Rights   - Reading: Learn NC: L. Maren Wood’s “The Women’s Movement” Link: Learn NC: L. Maren Wood’s “The Women’s Movement” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage.

 Note that this webpage discusses the emergence of the radical
women’s rights movement in the 1960s. Feminists challenged
gender-based discrimination in employment, housing, access to birth
control, and other areas. Radical feminists used the legal system
and engaged in public demonstrations throughout the 1960s in their
efforts to secure equal rights and treatment for women in the United
States.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

8.4.2 Gay Rights   - Reading: US Intellectual History: Andrew Hartman’s “The Gay Sixties” Link: US Intellectual History: Andrew Hartman’s “The Gay Sixties” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article. Note that this article addresses efforts by gay and lesbians to fight for social and legal equality in the United States beginning in the 1960s. 

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.4.3 Latino and Native-American Rights   - Reading: European Journal of American Studies: Benita Heiskanen’s “A Day without Immigrants” Link: European Journal of American Studies: Benita Heiskanen’s “A Day without Immigrants” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this entire article which discusses the history of Latino immigration into the United States and efforts by Latinos to secure equal rights and highlight injustice and mistreatment at the hand of whites in the United States.

 Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: Connexions: José Ángel Gutiérrez’s “The Chicano Movement: Dead or Alive?” Link: Connexions: José Ángel Gutiérrez’s “The Chicano Movement: Dead or Alive?” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage concerning the history of the Chicano Movement.

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: HistoryLink.org: Patrick McRoberts and Kit Oldham’s “Fort Lawton Military Police Clash with Native American and other Protesters in the Future Discovery Park on March 8, 1970” Link: HistoryLink.org: Patrick McRoberts and Kit Oldham’s “Fort Lawton Military Police Clash with Native American and other Protesters in the Future Discovery Park on March 8, 1970” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee’s “American Indian Movement” Link: Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee’s “American Indian Movement (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage and also explore the link on “Wounded Knee,” found on the drop-down menu under the Background tab at the top of the page. These webpages and the article above it concern the American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier and the history of the American Indian Movement.

    Reading the article and exploring the additional resources should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.