The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

The 14th Amendment - Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Jim Crow America
  • Mostly in Deep South
  • Blacks and whites completely seperated.
  • Blacks considered grossly inferior.
  • The point of Jim Crow was to keep blacks on bottom.
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Plessy v. Ferguson
  • 1/8 black in Louisiana meant he was all black.
  • The law in Louisiana said blacks and whites had to sit in seperate traincars.
  • Got on an all-white train car
  • Was arrested--took it to court.
  • Appealed to Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court ruled that segregation could be Seperate but equal
  • Supreme Court ruled that as long as things were equal, they could be segregated.
  • So it said Jim Crow was ok--it started to grow in the South.

The Scottsboro Boys
  • Nine boys on a train going to Memphis
  • Picked a fight with two white boys
  • Beat the white boys who rolled off the train and accused the blacks of gang-raping two white women
  • The women go along with the story, got the blackboys arrested.
  • Jury all white, all male. Nine day trial. No physical evidence of rape. No physical evidence of violence or force. Guilty or not, let's get these...verdict was guilty--death sentences.
  • Finally got a better attorney who took it to the Supreme Court--found guilty again. Finally found innocent.
  • None of them executed. Six years later, one of the women went back on her story.
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Brown v. Board of Education
  • Linda Brown from Topeka Kansas
  • Walked through dangerous railroad yard, got to bus, got to all-black school half hour early, sat there and waited.
  • Her father sued-wanted her to go to the closer all-white school.
  • Lower courts all ruled "Seperate but Equal."
  • Went to the Supreme Court--wanted to overturn it, but wanted it to be unanimous-cut a deal with the other judges.
  • He said they would overturn it but be very delayed in intergration.
  • Unanimous overturning of Plessy vs. Ferguson (got rid of Seperate but Equal--on paper)
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Emmett Till
  • From Chicago, 14--went down to the South
  • Mom warned him things were different there
  • Walked out of store and said bye baby to a white women
  • Store owner and another man went to his house
  • Never seen alive again
  • Found in the river four days later
  • bullet through his head, beaten, drowned
  • Two men found innocent in court by an all-white jury