Background: The Civil Rights Movement cont'd
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Birth of a Movement

On September 4, 1957, under court ordered plan, nine black students were scheduled to attend school at Central High School in Little Rock, that held 2 000 white students. In the case of Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954 segregation in public schools had been outlawed. Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford was among the "Little Rock Nine". She bravely walked to school while being faced with a mob of angry white parents. Even Governor Orval Faubus opposed the plan, and was determined not to let the school become integrated. She was mobbed by the crowd and spat on.

"Then my knees started to shake all of the sudden and I wondered whether I could make it to the center entrance a block away." - Elizabeth Eckford

There had been a guard at the entrance allowing white students to enter, but when she went to him he would not move. "when I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet somebody started yelling, 'Lynch her! Lynch her!'" The children were finally sent home because of the mob. President Eisenhower would later be forced to send troops to protect the nine students as they went to school. For the rest of the school year the students would walk from class to class with troops by their sides. The civil rights movement had begun.

In the 1960s it was the time for ending segregation all together. February 1, 1960, four black college students walked into a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. They sat down at the lunch counter and ordered coffee, but they were not served because it was "whites only". They sat in the store until it closed and returned the next day. Thus started sit-ins. They "refused to move until they demands were met". Sit-ins spread to fifteen cities in a few weeks. Many were also being taught nonviolent protesting. They were taught how to deal with the abuse they would encounter and respond to violence. They were also taught to fall in a position that would protect their head and vital organs. Protesters were mobbed by whites. They were covered with ammonia and itching powder, yelled at , beaten, burned with cigarettes, they were pulled from their seats and taken to jail. But more always came and took their place. These sit-ins forced the nation to watch the violence done against blacks and give sympathy towards them. It forced the nation to deal with the problem, and that they just could not turn their heads and look the other way anymore. Sit-ins ran until lunch counters began serving both whites and blacks.

Beginning on May 4, 1961 CORE began a series of "freedom rides", "a bus or train ride through segregated southern cities organized by a civil rights group to protest segregation". White protesters would sit in the back while the blacks sat in the front. At bus terminals, black riders would try to use whites only waiting rooms, bathrooms, drinking fountains, and eating areas. These "freedom rides" brought on beatings of the riders, buses blown up, but still the rides continued. Federal troops had to be ordered to be put on the buses to protect the riders.


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