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Martin Luther King, Jr. : The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement


Civil Rights in America

What was the Civil Rights Movement? 

"The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for Black Americans to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t end discrimination against Black people—they continued to endure the devastating effects of racism, especially in the South. By the mid-20th century, Black Americans had had more than enough of prejudice and violence against them. They, along with many white Americans, mobilized and began an unprecedented fight for equality that spanned two decades." (Civil Rights Movement from

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, resulting in her arrest and igniting the movement. At the time, segregation said that blacks and whites were to be separated on buses, with black at the back. When a white man was unable to find a seat (because the whites only section was filled), Parks and two others were ordered to give up their seats. Parks refused and was arrested.  Her arrest incited the Montgomery Improvement Association (led by Martin Luther King, Jr.) to stage a boycott of the Montgomery bus system, which lasted 381 days. 

Brown v. Board of Education 

This 1954 landmark case was heard and ruled on by the United States Supreme Court. It was decided that segregation in public schools was illegal. In September of 1957, nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, arrived at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas to become the first colored students to attend the formerly segregated school. Blocking the entrance of the school were the Arkansas National Guard (on order of the Governor) and a large mob. The nine students left, trying again to enter the school a few weeks later, having to be removed from the school because of violence against them. The nine students were finally able to attend the formerly all white school after President Dwight D. Eisenhower intervened and ordered federal troops to escort the students to and from classes. These students brought attention to the issue still facing segregated schools in the south. 

March on Washington

On August 28, 1963, one of the most famous civil rights movement events took place. Organized by civil rights leaders, more than 200,000 people congregated in Washington D.C. for a peaceful march and the goal of forcing civil rights legislation. The highlight of the march was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, "I Have a Dream". 

Bloody Sunday and the March from Selma

March 7, 1965 turned violent for peaceful demonstrators as they marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest the killing of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson. As the protesters neared the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were blocked by state and local police. The marchers refused to stand down and moved forward, resulting them being viciously beaten and teargassed. 

Source (2009). Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved from

Protests and the Civil Rights Movement

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Books about the Civil Rights Movement

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