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The Civil Rights Movement in America

The Civil Rights Movement in America

Steven F. Lawson
David J. Garrow
Neil R. McMillen
Mark V. Tushnet
J. Mills Thornton
Copyright Date: 1986
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  • Book Info
    The Civil Rights Movement in America
    Book Description:

    The Civil Rights Movement warrants continuing and extensive examination. The six papers in this collection, each supplemented by a follow-up assessment, contribute to a clearer perception of what caused and motivated the movement, of how it functioned, of the changes that occurred within it, and of its accomplishments and shortcomings. Its profound effect upon modern America has so greatly changed relations between the races that C. Vann Woodward has called it the "second revolution."

    In a limited space the eleven scholars range with a definitive view over a large subject. Their papers analyze and emphasize the Civil Rights Movement's important aspects: its origins and causes, its strategies and tactics for accomplishing black freedom, the creative tensions in its leadership, the politics of the movement in the key state of Mississippi, and the role of federal law and federal courts.

    In this collection a scholarly balance is achieved for each paper by a follow-up commentary from a significant authority. By deepening the understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, these essays underscore what has been gained through struggle, as well as acknowledging the goals that are yet to be attained.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-812-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    Twenty-three years after James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi, eleven noted scholars came to the University to discuss, examine, and analyze the Civil Rights Movement. Representing the disciplines of history, political science, and the law, they participated in the eleventh annual Chancellor’s Symposium on Southern History. Their papers and the commentaries on them contribute to a clearer perception of what caused and motivated the Civil Rights Movement, how it functioned, the changes that occurred within it, and its accomplishments and shortcomings.

    The Civil Rights Movement warrants such extensive examination because it had a profound effect on the modern...

  5. The Origins and Causes of the Civil Rights Movement
    (pp. 3-18)

    If it is venturesome to suppose that anything analytically new may be offered as to the origins and causes of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it is equally true that the demography of this phenomenon is fundamental to its deepest comprehension. In this case, political demographics may truly be said to be racial destiny. In the two decades immediately following the outbreak of World War Two, almost three times as many Afro-Americans departed the South as had left during the Great Migration of the century’s second decade—with 1,599,000 moving mostly North during the period 1940–1950, and...

  6. Civil Rights Reform and the Black Freedom Struggle
    (pp. 19-38)

    Social movements ultimately fail, at least in minds of many committed participants. As radicals and revolutionaries have discovered throughout history, even the most successful movements generate aspirations that cannot be fulfilled. Activists, particularly those in social movements that are driven by democratic ideals, often do not regard the achievement of political reform as conclusive evidence of success. Their activism drives them toward values that cannot be fully implemented except within the activist community. Thus, although American social movements provided a major impetus for the extension of civil rights to previously excluded groups, many abolitionists struggled for more radical transformation than...

  7. Creative Tensions in the Leadership of the Civil Rights Movement
    (pp. 39-64)

    One of the persistent themes in the increasingly rich literature on civil rights leadership is the debilitating effect on the movement of competition among organizations and individuals who sought to lead it. Throughout the direct action phase of the movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (sncc), the Congress of Racial Equality (core), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (sclc), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp) competed vigorously for publicity and position. The organizations jockeyed for headlines, elbowed one another out of the limelight, moved in on each other’s demonstrations, and took issue with each other’s tactics....

  8. The Politics of the Mississippi Movement, 1954–1964
    (pp. 65-96)

    In May of 1963 two Mississippi leaders appeared on local television to discuss race relations in the state’s capital city. Jackson was then in the midst of crisis. A black boycott of downtown merchants over the issues of jobs and segregation had led to mass rallies, demonstrations, and picketing. Refusing to negotiate, city officials were trying to break the movement by filling the jails with civil rights activists. For Mayor Allan Thompson, there was simply nothing to negotiate about. In his television appeal to “our Nigra citizens,” the mayor reminded blacks of their good fortune in being Jacksonians:

    You live...

  9. Federal Law and the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement
    (pp. 97-126)

    What came to be known in the United States as the civil rights movement—from the early 20th century to the late 1960s—was first and foremost a movement to endde juresegregation in the country. Let this presentation begin with an unambiguous conclusion: that movement was successful. Blatant, overt laws requiring segregation of the races were declared unconstitutional, and laws denying and impeding the right of black Americans to vote were ended. In this sense, the civil rights movement that most people joined (or opposed) was won.

    To be sure, there were always efforts at overcomingde facto...

  10. The End of One Struggle, The Beginning of Another
    (pp. 127-156)

    In 1978 scores of veterans from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (sncc) gathered in New York City to honor Ella Baker, the woman who had presided over the recruitment of most of them to the civil rights struggle. The occasion was her 75th birthday. Many of the people in the room had not spoken to each other for years, separated in some cases by distance, in others by political divisions. Now they were reunited to celebrate the wisdom, the humor, and the courage of someone who had transcended all the differences that existed between them.

    On that evening, Vincent Harding...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-172)
  12. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 173-178)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 179-180)
  14. Index
    (pp. 181-188)