The civil rights movement that spanned the years following the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 through the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 marked a watershed period for human rights in America. Julian bond, former communications director of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), notes in his introduction that “the words ‘civil rights’ summon up memories and images in modern minds of grainy television footage of packed mass meetings, firehoses and police dogs, of early 1960s peaceful protestors replaced over time by violent rioters, of soul-stirring oratory and bold actions, of assassination and death.” The civil rights movement was also a movement of courage, of perseverance, of strength and of triumph. The Civil Rights Movement covers the key years from 1954 to 1965 in detail. It also traces the roots of the civil rights movement to the 19th century in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation through the Reconstruction period.
The Civil Rights Movement provides hundreds of firsthand accounts of the movementfrom letters, speeches, newspaper editorials and press statementsthat illustrate how historical events appeared to those who lived through them. Among the eyewitness testimonies included are those from Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, President Lyndon Johnson, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy.
In addition to the firsthand accounts, each chapter provides an introductory essay and a chronology of events. The book also includes such critical documents as the Formation of the NAACP, the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Southern Manifesto, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 as well as capsule biographies of more than 100 key figures, a bibliography, an index and 80 black-and-white photographs.
Eyewitness Testimony on the Civil Rights Movement:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand.
—Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857
The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.
—W. E. B. DuBois, 1903
This is what I wanted to know: when and how would we ever determine our rights as human beings?...It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn’t feel like obeying his demand. He called a policeman and I was arrested and placed in jail.
—Rosa Parks, on why she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in
Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955
I believe in segregation. I think it’s the best way, but I am a realist enough to believe that we will have total integration one day. It might not be in my lifetime or in my children’s, but it will come. As the laws change to meet the times, I will support the law.
—Laurie Pritchett, Albany, Georgia police chief, December 17, 1961
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveholders will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
—Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963
88 black-and-white photographs. 4 maps. Index. Bibliography. Appendixes.
About the Author(s)
Sanford Wexler is also the author of Facts On File’s Westward Expansion: An Eyewitness History. He coscripted Set on Freedom, a multimedia CD-ROM and teacher’s guide on the history of the civil rights movement. Wexler was a research consultant on the 10-hour television series The Wounded Dove: The Quest for Peace in the 20th Century. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and a regular contributor to various national magazines and online news services.
Julian Bond was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s as both communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and as cofounder of Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR). In 1965 Bond was elected to the Georgia State Assembly and served there 20 years. In recent years, he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania; Drexel, Harvard and American Universities; and Williams College and is now teaching at the University of Virginia. Bond is currently chairperson of the NAACP.