Following are the main points of THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT 1960-1980 taken from US History Book by State Department.
The struggle of African Americans for equality reached its peak in the mid-1960s. After progressive victories in the 1950s, African Americans became even more committed to nonviolent direct action.
In 1960 African-American college students sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in North Carolina and refused to leave. Their sit-in captured media attention and led to similar demonstrations throughout the South. The next year, civil rights workers organized “freedom rides,” in which African Americans and whites boarded buses heading south toward segregated terminals, where confrontations might capture media attention and lead to change.
They also organized rallies, the largest of which was the “March on Washington” in 1963. More than 200,000 people gathered in the nation’s capital to demonstrate their commitment to equality for all.
The high point of a day of songs and speeches came with the address of Martin Luther King Jr., who had emerged as the preeminent spokesman for civil rights. “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,” King proclaimed. Each time he used the refrain “I have a dream,” the crowd roared.
President Kennedy was initially reluctant to press white Southerners for support on civil rights because he needed their votes on other issues. Events, driven by African Americans themselves, forced his hand. When James Meredith was denied admission to the University of Mississippi in 1962 because of his race, Kennedy sent federal troops to uphold the law. After protests aimed at the desegregation of Birmingham, Alabama, prompted a violent response by the police, he sent Congress a new civil rights bill mandating the integration of public places. Not even the March on Washington, however, could extricate the measure from a congressional committee, where it was still bottled up when Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was more successful. Johnson persuaded the Senate to limit delaying tactics preventing a final vote on the sweeping Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in all public accommodations. The next year’s Voting Rights Act of 1965 authorized the federal government to register voters where local officials had prevented African Americans from doing so. By 1968 a million African Americans were registered in the deep South. Nationwide, the number of African- American elected officials increased substantially. In 1968, the Congress passed legislation banning discrimination in housing.
Violence accompanied militant calls for reform. Riots broke out in several big cities in 1966 and 1967. In the spring of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. fell before an assassin’s bullet. Several months later, Senator Robert Kennedy, a spokesman for the disadvantaged, an opponent of the Vietnam War, and the brother of the slain president, met the same fate.
By then, however, a civil rights movement supported by court decisions, congressional enactments, and federal administrative regulations was irreversibly woven into the fabric of American life.
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THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT
During the 1950s and 1960s, increasing numbers of married women entered the labor force, but in 1963 the average working woman earned only 63 percent of what a man made. That year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, an explosive critique of middleclass living patterns that articulated a pervasive sense of discontent that Friedan contended was felt by many women.
The women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s drew inspiration from the civil rights movement.
Reform legislation also prompted change. During debate on the 1964 Civil Rights bill, opponents hoped to defeat the entire measure by proposing an amendment to outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender as well as race. First the amendment, then the bill itself, passed, giving women a valuable legal tool.
In 1966, 28 professional women, including Friedan, established the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Passed by Congress in 1972, that amendment declared in part, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
In 1973 the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade sanctioned women’s right to obtain an abortion during the early months of pregnancy — seen as a significant victory for the women’s movement.
Conservative opponents mounted a campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, and it died in 1982 without gaining the approval of the 38 states needed for ratification.
THE LATINO MOVEMENT
In post-World War II America, Americans of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent had faced discrimination. New immigrants, coming from Cuba, Mexico, and Central America — often unskilled and unable to speak English — suffered from discrimination as well.
Chicanos, or Mexican-Americans, mobilized in organizations like the radical Asociación Nacional Mexico-Americana, yet did 280 not become confrontational until the 1960s.
The example of black activism in particular taught Hispanics the importance of pressure politics in a pluralistic society.
César Chávez, founder of the overwhelmingly Hispanic United Farm Workers, demonstrated that direct action could achieve employer recognition for his union. California grape growers agreed to bargain with the union after Chávez led a nationwide consumer boycott.
Hispanics became politically active as well. In 1961 Henry B. González won election to Congress from Texas. Three years later Eligio (“Kika”) de la Garza, another Texan, followed him, and Joseph Montoya of New Mexico went to the Senate.
THE NATIVE-AMERICAN MOVEMENT
In 1961, when the policy was discontinued, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights noted that, for Native Americans, “poverty and deprivation are common.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, watching both the development of Third World nationalism and the progress of the civil rights movement, Native Americans became more aggressive in pressing for their own rights.
In state after state, they challenged treaty violations, and in 1967 won the first of many victories guaranteeing long-abused land and water rights.
The American Indian Movement (AIM), founded in 1968, helped channel government funds to Native-American-controlled organizations and assisted neglected Native Americans in the cities.
In 1973 AIM took over the South Dakota village of Wounded Knee, where soldiers in the late 19th century had massacred a Sioux encampment. The episode ended after one Native American was killed and another wounded, with a government agreement to re-examine treaty rights.
Still, Native-American activism brought results. Other Americans became more aware of Native-American needs. Government officials responded with measures including the Education Assistance Act of 1975 and the 1996 Native-American Housing and Self- Determination Act. The Senate’s first Native-American member, Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, was elected in 1992.
The youth counterculture reached its apogee in August 1969 at Woodstock, a three-day music festival in rural New York State attended by almost half-a-million persons. The festival, mythologized in films and record albums, gave its name to the era, the Woodstock Generation.
A parallel manifestation of the new sensibility of the young was the rise of the New Left, a group of young, college-age radicals. The New Leftists, who had close counterparts in Western Europe, were in many instances the children of the older generation of radicals. Nonetheless, they rejected old-style Marxist rhetoric.
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