The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement

Synopsis

The civil rights movement was arguably the most important reform in American history. This book recounts the extraordinary and often bloody story of how tens of thousands of ordinary African-Americans overcame long odds to dethrone segregation, to exercise the right to vote and to improve their economic standing.

Organized in a clear chronological fashion, the book shows how concerted pressure in a variety of forms ultimately carried the day in realizing a more just society for African- Americans. It will provide students of American history with an invaluable, comprehensive introduction to the Civil Rights Movement.

Excerpt

Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, seemed an unlikely place for the gravest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. It was a New South community of 107,000 U+>gated its library, parks, zoo, buses, hospitals, juries, and police force with little resistance. Harry Ashmore’s Arkansas Gazette, one of the region’s most respected newspapers, endorsed these integration initiatives. Still, there were limits to desegregation because the city’s swimming pool, hotels, theaters, restaurants, drinking fountains, and toilets remained racially divided throughout the 1950s.

Little Rock’s schools were slated for desegregation early on. A week after Brown was decided in May 1954, superintendent Virgil Blossom drafted plans for gradual desegregation, beginning with the elite Central High School. Blossom hoped that the governorship could be his if he handled the South’s most difficult problem smoothly. His plan called for spending more money on black schools to siphon off demands for integration. Nearly all blacks would attend a brand-new $1 million Horace Mann High School on the east side while the children of community leaders could escape desegregation by attending the brand-new Hall High School in the growing suburbs to the west. One school board member remarked candidly that ‘the plan was developed to provide as little integration as possible for as long as possible legally.’

Although only token blacks would be involved in school desegregation, the Blossom Plan was criticized by segregationists. Erving Brown, president of the Capital Citizens’ Council, dismissed the plan as altogether unnecessary: ‘The Negroes have ample and fine schools here, and there is no need for this problem except to satisfy the aims of a few white and Negro revolutionaries.’ When blue-collar workers and fundamentalist pastors worried about the social consequences of school desegregation, the school board offered . . .

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