The Civil Rights Movement Before and After 1964

Topic: Civil Rights
Words: 673 Pages: 2


The civil rights movement was a social justice struggle among black Americans that lasted in the 1950s and 1960s. The purpose of this protest was to obtain equal rights under U.S law since the civil war abolished slavery but did not manage to end discrimination against blacks(Dewey 451). Along with other whites, Black Americans mobilized and began the unprecedented fight for impartiality. The movement involved different types of actions, including violent, non-violent, and legal, which activists employed in striving for justice. This paper describes and gives examples of the three strategies used, identifies the most effective approach, and explains why activism continued after the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Actions Used in the Civil Rights Movement

Legal action is described as the process of having the court of law settle a case or an argument. Court proceedings in the civil rights movement were spearheaded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which initiated lawsuits to challenge Jim Crow’s legal segregation legislation in the South. For example, the ruling of the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka held that segregation in public education is unconstitutional since separate facilities were fundamentally unequal (Dewey 463). Although the decision was a significant victory for activists, white supremacists resisted desegregation. In response, the Southern manifesto was issued to denounce the ruling, resulting in federal intervention to implement this decision.

Secondly, non-violent action involves the professed, active refusal to obey specific demands, orders, or government laws. When white authorities from the South counterattacked court demands to desegregate, some activists turned to non-violent resistance. In 1955, they launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a mass direct action that gave a template of the efforts of Civil Rights Movement leaders (Dewey 467). During this era, another significant peaceful protest was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that led to the successful enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Lastly, violent action is a confrontation that includes injurious physical force against people and property. Some activists were convinced that non-violent protests were not sufficient and wanted to eliminate many northern middle-class whites from the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1964 Freedom Summer, black activists were joined by the Northern American university students in a voter registration drive in the South (Mazumder 930). The campaign was viewed as a way of imposing white leadership onto the movement. Militant civil rights activism, known as Black Power, emerged and had many adherents, including the Black Panther Party and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

The Most Effective Strategy

Based on this research, activists in the Civil Rights movement employed three actions in seeking justice from white supremacists; they include legal action, peaceful protests, and violence. Civil disobedience was the most effective method because of the extensive media coverage of protestors being physically beaten and harassed by police officers (Dewey 455). Besides, mass protests attracted many followers, including religious groups, student associations, and labor unions.

Why Activism and Violence Continued After the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Although the Civil Rights Movement successfully dismantled Jim Crow’s segregation of the South and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it did not achieve the full economic, social, and political goals of activists. Blacks are still being incarcerated at a disproportional percentage of the population, and they are regularly victims of police brutality (Mazumder 929). Moreover, poverty among black families is still high compared to other Latinos and whites. Therefore, it would take further judicial precedent, legislative action, and mobilization to guarantee African Americans of equal civil rights.


In summation, the Civil Rights Movement was an organized mass protest movement by Black Americans to end racial discrimination and segregation in the southern part of the United States. The association started in the late 1940s, gained national prominence in the mid-1950s, and ended in the late 1960s. Although tumultuous sometimes, the protests were mostly non-violent and led to the enactment of laws that protect all Americans’ constitutional rights, regardless of their national origin, race, sex, and color.

Works Cited

Dewey, Clayton. “Black Lives Matter and the Civil Rights Movement: A Comparative Analysis of Two Social Movements in the United States.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 49, no. 5, 2018, pp. 448–480. doi: 10.1177/0021934718764099

Mazumder, Soumyajit. “The Persistent Effect of U.S. Civil Rights Protests on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 62, no. 4, 2018, pp. 922–935. doi: 10.1111/ajps.12384

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