Faces of the Civil Rights Movement: The Lives and Legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
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Martin Luther King put out a call for station-wagons to come to Montgomery to be used as free shuttle services. A few supportive whites provided rides to blacks. Even so, many blacks were forced to walk miles every day to get to work. But the resolve hardened each day.
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The resolve of racist whites also hardened. Violence increased dramatically. During the campaign at least eight bombings took place.
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The Ku Klux Klan held highly visible, intimidating rallies. Nevertheless six months into the Montgomery, Alabama boycott, another began in Florida, forcing the bus company there out of business. Eleven months on, the battle was finally won. Enormous pressure forced the desegregation of Montgomery buses, and a small taste of what mass action could achieve left the black community hungry for much more. After the Montgomery boycott, Martin Luther King became greatly respected for his leadership qualities. His actions criticize him. Any Negro who teaches other Negroes to turn the other cheek is disarming that Negro.
The s saw the famous Brown v. Board Supreme Court case that ruled against segregation in schools.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. met 50 years ago
But it would take a lot more than paper legislation to have any effective change. In Little Rock, Arkansas, came the first major confrontation to desegregate schools. Nine black teenagers were set to attend a school in Little Rock. However, once Faubus was in office, he soon shed his liberal image. Playing on the discontent that existed among whites toward integration, he became a hardened segregationist and refused to enforce any law to integrate schools.
Racist mobs rallied to physically stop the black teenagers getting to the school. Pressure forced President Eisenhower to act. He sent federal troops to ensure passage for the blacks students. The fact that the state had been forced to intervene represented another victory for the black movement and greatly demoralized the racists. Until the early s the struggles of blacks against segregation had mainly consisted of local action.
In , that changed, and the movement rapidly spread from state to state with young people playing a key role. It began with the sit-in movement. A new generation inspired by the movements already taking place in the U. They would enter segregated restaurants and demand to be served, and when they were refused they would literally sit-in!
The invasion of the bar meant that its owners lost money. Eventually the police would be called and the youth, predominantly students, would be arrested. Many were beaten.
MLK vs. Malcolm X (similarities/differences)
Every time a group was arrested another group would come to take their place. Thousands were arrested and many were expelled from school, but the sit-ins spread like wildfire.
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Then came the Freedom Rides where black and white students would board buses and travel through the southern states. These actions were taken to force the integration of buses that had already been passed in law, but not in practice.
Malcolm X - HISTORY
Many of the freedom riders were beaten and brutalized by racist mobs. Yet the Freedom Rides still continued. It became clear to the youth that they needed their own organization to discuss the strategies and actions they needed to take.
They were invited by Martin Luther King to form the youth wing of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC , an organization which had a strong pacifist thread but still supported direct acts of civil disobedience. While still defending the tactic of non- violence, for SNCC, non-violence was seen as a tactic to be used on a case-by-case basis, not a principle for all situations.
Martin Luther King evolved as the most important leader of the black revolt. His principle of pacifism was the dominant feature of the movement for a long period. But once youth entered the scene of battle, it was much harder for him to hold this line. Faced with beatings, lynching and petrol bombings, the idea of non-violence somehow did not ring true. Figures like Malcolm X, with his message of militant action, became a much more attractive focus for young blacks. If someone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery. He was effectively voicing the thoughts of many younger activists.
Martin Luther King went on and on talking about his dream. I sat there thinking that in Canton, Mississippi, we never had time to sleep much less to dream. After King was presented with the Nobel peace Prize, Malcolm again used the opportunity to highlight their different approaches. However, even Martin Luther King was to talk of revolution towards the end of his life. King started supporting marches of striking workers and was gunned down as he prepared to march with refuse workers in Memphis.
The Civil Rights Movement. Jim Crow Racial Segregation This was a struggle that had to be fought. Lynchings There was always strong resistance to the dismantling of Jim Crow. Montgomery Bus Boycott The whole black community in the area rallied behind the boycott. Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides Until the early s the struggles of blacks against segregation had mainly consisted of local action.
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