King and the Peaceful Protests 1955-1968

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Montgomery Bus Boycott

12/1/1955 - Nov 1956

EVENTS:
NAACP in Montgomery Alabama - challenge segregation on city buses
- 1st Dec 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up seat on bus + was arrested
- Led to boycott of city buses - led by MLK

  • Most AA took part - buses lost 65% of revenue
  • City authorities arrested over 150 protestors during march against segregation

  • Led to Browder v Gayle in Nov 1956 - formally desegregated transport

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Showed when AA worked together they could achieve significant results
- Highlighted economic power of AA
- Started process of direct action
- King emerged as leading figure in CRM

Little Rock

1957 - 1958

EVENTS:
- 10 black students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock - Sept 1957
- Orval Faubus - governor - stationed National Guard to prevent students from entering
- Eisenhower had to enforce law + National Guard told to help students gain entry
- 1958 - Faubus closed schools - shut for whole academic year

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Eisenhower unwilling to intervene but forced - federal intervention necessary
- Desegregation = slow process
-1964 - less than 2% black children in south attending integrated schools

Greensboro Sit-ins

2/1/1960 - July 1960

EVENTS:
- 1st Feb 1960- 4 students sat at 'whites only' seats in Greensboro Woolworths - refused to move until served
- More students joined protest - 6rh Feb - over 300 students involved
- 70,000 participated in 6 months
- July 1960 - Woolworths desegregated lunch counters

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Helped movement to gain momentum
- Sit-ins marked new phase of peaceful protest

Albany Movement

1961 - 1962

EVENTS:
- SNCC - Albany, Georgia - organised sit-ins in segregated facilities
- Boycotts used to put pressure on authorities
- MLK heavily involved
- Pritchett arrested large number of protestors
- July 1962 MLK given jail sentence but soon released
- Federal Gov had no need to intervene + press lost interest
- Albany movement ended in failure
- Bus facilities desegregated but many facilities shut

- Refused to desegregate schools

SIGNIFICANCE:
- SNCC began to consider more violent tactics - peaceful protest did not always work
- Unclear aims
- Not possible to tackle segregation as a whole but to exploit economic power of AA through boycotts

Freedom Rides

May 1961 - Sept 1961

EVENTS:
- Organised by CORE - demonstrate little de facto change in interstate bus travel + highlight level of violence Civil Rights campaigners faced in South
- May 1961, Washington DC - fierce resistance in Alabama - bus firebombed + riders beaten
- Birmingham - BUll Connor allowed travellers to be attacked by KKK
-JFK forced to intervene - ended in Sept 1961

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Direct action could attract media attention
- Civil Rights groups could work together - many believed MLK tried to take credit
- Kennedy more supportive of CRM
- Worried AA would be accused of being violent

Birmingham Campaigns

April 1963 - May 1963

EVENTS:
- Birmingham rigidly segregated
- MLK convinced Bull Connor would overreacts - attract media coverage
- Targetted segregation in public spaces
- April 1963 - MLK arrested - wrote 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'
- 1st month = peaceful
- May 1963 - SCLC called on school children + students to participate in demonstrations
- Jails filled with 1000+ children
- Propaganda victory for CRM

SIGNIFICANCE:
- SCLC reached agreement with city - widespread desegregation + end to discrimination in employment
- Most shops + public spaces not desegregated
- Global recognition for MLK

March On Washington

8/28/1963

EVENTS:
- 250,000 marched on Washington DC - speeches from Civil Rights Leaders
- 'I Have a Dream' speech

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Civil Rights organisations could work together for same aims
- Persuaded Kennedy that time was right for Civil Rights Act

Mississippi Freedom Summer

1/1/1964 - 12/30/1964
  • Organised by SNCC - increase voter registration
  • Mississippi - less than 7% of AA registered to vote
  • 1000 volunteers came from North to run Freedom Schools - take AA to voter registration offices
  • White people of Mississippi hostile - volunteers attack
  • 3 activists murdered - brought attention to campaign

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Prevented black people from registering
- Peaceful methods not successful
- Led to divides in Mississippi Democratic Party

Selma Campaign

1965

EVENTS:
- SCLC
- Selma - less than 2% AA registered to vote
- Authorities ignored Civil Rights Act
- Sheriff Jim Clark responded brutally to demonstrations
- Peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery - commemorate 10th anniversary of Montgomery Bus Boycotts
- 3 attempts + support of federal troops to complete march

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Violence persuaded Johnson to address issue of Voting Rights

Chicago Campaign

1966

EVENTS:
- MLK chose Chicago - highlight problem of economic + social inequality - had large, oppressed black community
- Mayor unwilling to take positive action to end racial discrimination
- MLK organised marches through white neighbourhoods
- Mayor agreed to negotiate but never carried out promises + made marches illegal

SIGNIFICANCE:
- MLK campaigns not guaranteed success
- Aims of campaign vague
- Couldn't change economy overnight - needed more funding
- Difficult to organise so many people
- AA less influenced by Christian ministers - viewed MLK as irrelevant

Poor People's Campaign

1968

EVENTS:
- Gathering of poor people in Washington DC in 1968
- Aimed to create coalition of poor of all races to demand laws to combat poverty
- MLK assassinated - 4th April 1968 - campaign fell apart

SIGNIFICANCE:
- Demonstrated significance of MLK to movement