Rebirth of the Civil Rights Movement
I started college in 1961 and graduated in 1965. Interestingly, those four years in the 19th century were the years of the Civil War. I attended college a hundred years after the Civil War and America was still attempting to address racism.
The modern civil rights movement started in 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, AL for not giving up her seat to a white man on a city bus. By the time that I started college, whites finally became involved in the movement to assure human rights to all Americans.
Within a decade for Rosa Parks' arrest, President Johnson had gotten two major civil rights bills passed by Congress. Both blacks and whites involved in the civil rights movement a half century ago knew that we would be able to change federal laws to ensure equality to all Americans. Even during the darkest days of beatings and killings, we all knew that we would succeed in a matter of several years. It was not something that would take even a generation to accomplish. Our belief that success would come quickly motivated us even more.
Not only were we optimistic about the success of our task, the opposition to our movement were equally helpful. The segregationist especially in the South did a great deal to assist indifferent white Americans to work for equality of all people. President John Kennedy said of Bull Connor, the paradigm of blatant white racism, "The civil right movement should thank God for Bull Connor. He's helped it as much as Abraham Lincoln."
It has been exactly 50-years ago since Bloody Sunday occurred in Selma on March 7, 1965. Bloody Sunday also assisted the civil rights movement as had Bull Connor.
On March 15, 1965, President Johnson spoke to Congress in a televised addressed regarding Bloody Sunday. Even in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, we knew that we would overcome centuries of oppression of blacks.
As we look back upon the past and see what is happening today, George Santayana, the great writer and philosopher, reminds us, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We are reliving racism of the past in America today. After years of killings of black men, white America is finally realizing that there is overt racism of many police departments.
We have had two grand jury probes recently related to killings in Ferguson and Staten Island by white police officers of black males. Interestingly, both grand juries found no reason for indictment of the killers...even though one killing was on videotape.
I was shocked to read about both these grand jury hearings. I could not believe that a grand jury did not find reasonable cause for an indictment. Nevertheless, both grand juries shocked and outraged many whites into waking up to widespread racism remaining in America. While whites were upset, blacks have known about racism firsthand for centuries. However, the lack of indictments affected many whites in the same way as watching Bull Connor a half century ago. The result was a wellspring protests throughout the country.
As one who was involved in the earlier civil rights movement, let me assure the younger generation that the civil rights movement is alive and well in America.
This video is about Rosa Parks.
This video is about Bull Connor.
This video is about Bloody Sunday.
This video is about freedom riders.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.