English Across the Curriculum

African Americans

The Civil Rights Movement

After World War II a new movement for civil rights began. African Americans started to have more confidence and believe more in themselves. They had served for their country with honour during the war and in the North many Blacks started living in better conditions. A new group came to life - the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People). It attracted many members and received support from both Blacks and Whites.

The Civil Rights movement gained momentum in the 1950s. In 1954 the Supreme Court decided that segregation in schools was against the constitution. In 1955 a black woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama because she refused to let a white passenger take her seat. Blacks in the city started boycotting buses. This boycott was led by Martin Luther King, who became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

The movement reached its climax in 1963. Over a million people, Blacks as well as Whites took part in a protest demonstration in Washington D.C.

In the following year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. This law banned discrimination in school, public places, jobs and many other fields. African Americans received the right to vote and in 1967 Thurgood Marshall became the first Black judge to serve with the Supreme Court.

Rosa Parks
Image: See page for author,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


March on Washington in 1963
Image: National Archives at College Park,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons