Civil Rights of the 1960’s

March on Washington/Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream”

200,000 people came to protest peacefully for Civil Rights, in Washington D.C.

March on Washington/Martin Luther King Jr.

On August 5th, 1963, a huge event took place dealing with the Civil Rights movement. In Washington D.C. 200,000 assembled to peacefully protest, both blacks and whites, for equal rights of all citizens, no matter the color. The Civil Rights Act was in congress, the act was programmed to make segregation illegal no matter what gender or race. Part of the March’s agenda was to get the word of Civil Rights across so Congress would approve the act, instead of leave it sit in Congress for a while. The March was organized by many Civil Rights groups and activists, and religious groups as well that believed everyone should be treated equally.

The March on Washington was extremely successful, one of the main speakers at the event was Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a African American advocate of rights for all people. King Jr. promoted protest through peace, and did not believe violence would solve any matter in the fight for equality. Martin Luther King presented a famous speech called “I have a dream” during the March on Washington. The speech consisted of King Jr. speaking of “having a dream” that whites and blacks children could hold hands together, play together, and mainly coexist with each other happily. The same went for “having a dream” that businesses and schools would be desegregated. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech touched the whole nation, many felt that desegregation could actually happen and blacks and whites can live happily together. The speech was the highlight of the March on Washington.

Although Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech was the main event of the March on Washington, there were other speakers in D.C. at the same time as well including Josephine Barker, an African American woman who was the first African American female to be in a major picture film. Also, singer Bob Dylan performed.

The March on Washington was on live media coverage so the nation could see the non-violent protest first hand. Americans could see the struggles the African Americans have to face day by day just by watching their television. Many Americans were moved by their struggles, while others still felt as though African Americans could never have the same rights as whites, and these people caused agony to the African Americans for more years to come. The March was important because it showed how many people were willing to fight for Civil Rights, black or white, and it provided hope for the future, for if all these people could rally for equality why couldn’t they change a law? Equality felt so near to the African Americans, and it was closer than ever before.

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Luther, M. (2008, 4 15). Martin luther king online. Retrieved from

Greensboro Sit-in

Greensboro Sit-in

The four African American men started a national movement with their peaceful protest at an event known as the Greensboro Sit-in

Greensboro Sit-in

On February 1, 1960, a group of four black college freshmen attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State were tired of segregation that they faced, and decided to peacefully protest by sitting at an all white service counter at Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The four men were fascinated by the works of Mohandas Gandhi who advocated the effects of peaceful protest. The four men decided that a sit-in would be a great way to get their message on equality across. One of the men in the group had previously gone to a concert, where an African American had acted aggressively and in turn, got arrested and did not help the cause for Civil Rights at all. So, the four of them decided that they could not by any means retaliate in violence.

The plan for the four of them was simple; they would make sure to stop at a newspaper journalist’s before entering the Woolworth store. The journalist would come to make sure they could get their point across to the public eye. The four men would buy supplies at the store and make sure that they kept the receipt for evidence, and then, they would sit at the all-white counter politely asking to order.

The four African American’s carried out their plan, but were refused service and were asked to leave the store. They left, but word spread around quickly of their protest, and more protest came to follow. Students of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State School came to the counters to protest the following day, and even women at a nearby college joined the protest as well. On the 5th of February, 1960, as many as 1,400 people came to the Woolworth store to protest peacefully. They met opposition, as white males came to harass the protesters by throwing eggs, yelling profanities, and spitting into the protesters face.

The Greensboro Sit-in sparked other sit-ins to occur in North Carolina and other states as well. By the end of the month, many stores either desegregated their white only counters or removed the counters all together to elude the protests. The four African American men started a trend by being brave in protesting, they were successful in their attempts and sparked a national movement. Many saw if these four men could get results on desegregation, why couldn’t they get full rights as the white man?

The sit-ins showed how an idea can spark a whole nation into the idea of Civil Rights, whether they believed it was right or wrong, the Civil Rights movement was happening, and excited or scared, the African Americans were determined to obtain their rights.


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Murray, J. (n.d.). Greensboro sit-in. Retrieved from

ImageMalcolm X civil rights activist, speaks.

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was a civil rights activist in the 60’s; he championed the idea of black rights, and believed in getting their rights anyway possible, which included violence if need be. Malcolm had a rough childhood, his own father, a civil rights activist himself, was killed by a white supremacist group when Malcolm was only six years of age. Police had ruled his death as an accident, but Malcolm’s family thought otherwise. Malcolm’s mother Louise went crazy after her husband’s death and was assigned to a mental institution. Malcolm and his 7 brothers and sisters were put into separate foster families.

Malcolm was very intelligent in school, so much so that he was at the top of his class in junior high. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but was told by a teacher that since he was black, he had no future as a lawyer. Outraged, Malcolm dropped out of school and moved to New York. Malcolm got involved with drugs, prostitution, stealing, and gambling. Eventually, Malcolm got in trouble with the law, and got sentenced for 10 years in prison due to burglary.

Malcolm spent these 10 years in prison painstakingly reading every single word in the dictionary, and self-educating himself, for he had nothing else to do. Malcolm saw he needed to change his ways. He was told about the religion of Islam in prison when his brother visited him, and he read about Islam as well. Malcolm was hooked, and believed that Elijah Muhammad, the teacher of Islam was right in every way. Muhammad taught African Americans and other Islamic people should have their own state where no whites can live, and that whites were holding back African American empowerment, and hindered the African American success on purpose.

As Malcolm X exited jail, he advocated the Nation of Islam to all; he was a natural leader and increased the group total from 300 to 30,000. Malcolm X was now seen as a public leader to all people, but that increased his death threats and safety as well from white supremacist groups, just as his father had dealt with before his death.

Malcolm soon came to the realization that Elijah Muhammad was not the person he claimed to be, Muhammad advocated no sex before marriage while he had relations with 6 women and had children with a few of them as well. Outraged, Malcolm quit the Nation of Islam group and made his own religion named the Muslim Mosque Inc. The Nation of Islam was very upset with Malcolm leaving and was actually marked for assassination.

Malcolm took a trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The trip opened his eyes to new possibilities, for white men were kind to him and were acting as brothers. After this trip, Malcolm believed that maybe whites and blacks could get along after all; they did not need to be separate.

Malcolm came back to the United States, and on February 27, 1965, he was shot and killed by three men who were identified as members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X’s teachings left a legacy of hope for the African American community, as he taught many about the rights of African Americans should have, and put out the word that they needed those rights in order to live a fulfilled happy life.


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Malcolm x. (12, 5 11). Retrieved from

The Black Panther Party

The symbol of the Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was an all black social reform group that aimed to incorporate equality for all. The Black Panthers were armed with weapons and taught in militant self-defense when their communities were attacked, or other members of the Black Panther Party were harmed. The Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale on October 15th 1966. The Black Panthers main focus was to protect minorities against the police force, whom more often than not, attacked the minorities for no reason at all.
As time went on, the Black Panther Party’s ideas and agendas had changed as well and the Ten Point Program was established. The Ten Point Program is a set of demands that the Black Panthers believed should be met in order for them to live a happy equal life to the whites. The Ten Point Program had demands such as, full employment of the black community, housing fit for human living, and freedom for all minorities. Knowing the Ten Points was part of the initiation of being in the Black Panther Party, they could not be in the party unless they knew the Ten Points by heart. The full list can be seen here:
To be enlisted into the Black Panther Party, one would have to follow a set of rules. The rules were put into place so the Black Panthers could be in good health while working, and are in the right state of mind, plus they had a moral code of ethics as well. For example, the Black Panthers could not be drunk while doing party work, they could not be involved with any sort of drugs that could harm their health and the health of the party, and the Black Panthers could not steel from anyone or commit crimes upon people in the Party or the black community. Other important aspects of the rules include learning how to use weapons, and filling out work daily saying what work you completed on that day. The Black Panther Party rules also included 8 Points of Attention which listed how the Black Panthers should act, including returning anything they borrow, not hitting or swearing at people, and speaking fairly to all. The last part of the rules that the Black Panthers had to follow were 3 Main Rules of Discipline: Obey orders in all your actions, do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the poor and oppressed masses and turn in everything captured from the attacking enemy. The full set of rules can be seen here:

Baggins, B. (n.d.). Marxist history: Usa . Retrieved from (2011, october 12). Retrieved from
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The First Freedom Rides

Posted on October 5, 2012

This bus was firebombed during the Freedom Rides

The First Freedom Riders

In November of 1960 John F. Kennedy was elected president of the USA. Many African Americans were excited by Kennedy’s election for he had stated he was a supporter of Civil Rights. Unfortunately for the African Americans, Kennedy did nothing for the Civil Rights movement, and the African Americans decided to take matters into their own hands. In 1961, African Americans and whites that supported the civil rights cause took a “Freedom Ride” on segregated buses from Washington DC to the still very racist Deep South (New Orleans). The freedom rides consisted of the whites sitting in the “black only” section of the bus while the blacks sat in the “white only” section. The riders also used different toilets at rest stops. The Freedom Riders knew that this trip might put them in danger, but they were allowed to do so because of the Supreme Court decision, Boynton vs. Virginia.

Boynton vs. Virginia stated that the Interstate Commerce Act ruled that integration of passengers on the interstate was very much legal, so the Freedom Riders were not breaking any laws. The Freedom Riders knew about the aggression the South has put on many southerners, so they were prepared for the heavy violence to come. In Alabama, the Freedom Riders had split up into two groups. Both groups were attacked in different ways; the first bus that arrived was in for a surprise. A group of 200 southerners swarmed the bus and hit the vehicle with stones, and even slashing the tires. The bus quickly got away as fast as it could, but needed to stop to change the slashed tires. The bus stopped, and was attacked again, but was firebombed. All of the Freedom Riders aboard escaped the fire and escaped. The second group wasn’t as lucky and had larger injuries than the first group. The second group also was met with an angry southern mob, in which actually boarded the bus. The southerners made the blacks sit in there designated areas, and beat them with anything they could find such as sticks, pipes, and their own hands. Police were called to stop the violence, but they were too late. Many of the Freedom Riders were already badly beaten and the police had been extremely slow to stop the violence. It turns out; the police station was only two blocks away to the scene.

This incident brought major attention the country on Civil Rights, many did not know how violent the South actually was, and did not know the police could care less about protecting them as well. People rallied for Civil Rights and urged President Kennedy to take notice as well. The Freedom Riders protested peacefully, and more people started making their own Freedom Rides as well. Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was a supporter of the Freedom Rides as well. Without the Freedom Rides, many would not have known about how harsh the South really did treat the African American people and the nation needed to do something to stop the violence.

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