Martin Luther King/ Malcolm X
The first Blacks were brought to America on Dutch ships in the 17th century. They were needed as slaves on the plantations in the South and were treated like animals.
They didn’t get free until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln wrote in the Emancipation Proclamation that “all persons held as slaves within any State, …shall be then,thenceforward, and forever free;…” Slavery was officially abolished in 1865 in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. But not all Americans welcomed this and so in 1867 the Ku Klux Klan was founded to fight against the rights of the Blacks.
With the 14th Amendment the Blacks gained citizenship, but there was still segregation in public life, for example in schools, buses and restaurants.
In course oftime, Black protest began to rise but it wasn’t really organized until 1955.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a city bus and sat with three other blacks in the fifth row, the first row that blacks could occupy. A few stops later, the front four rows were filled with whites, and one white man was left standing. According to law, blacks and whites could not occupy the same row, so the busdriver asked all four of the blacks seated in the fifth row to move. Three complied, but Parks refused. She was arrested. This injustice caused the Blacks in Montgomery to boycott the bus system. A few days later, the Black leadership met and formed the Montgomery Improvement Association. As their spokesperson, they chose Martin Luther King, Jr., who was at that time an unknown twenty-six yearold minister at the Baptist Church. At a mass meeting Dr. King spoke about unity, Christian love, and non-violence. It was a powerful message that set the tone for the boycott. It lasted for 381 days until segregation in buses ended in December 1956.
Their next important success was in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Little Rock Central High School, like many schools across the country, wassegregated. But the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation of blacks and whites in public facilities was illegal. On September 23, 1957 nine students, who are known as The Little Rock Nine, were the first African Americans to attend Little Rock's Central High. As they drove toward the school that morning, the students knew what awaited them, an angry group of white protesters. Just a few weeks before,the nine had walked past just such a crowd to the high school entrance. That morning, Arkansas National Guardsmen had turned the nine away, and did not help them, when the mob attacked the black students and threatened their lives. But even though they were scared, the nine didn’t give up. They tried again and were forced to leave the school once more. The next day, the Little Rock Nine returnedto Central High, this time protected by United States Army troops sent by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. For them, the battle was only beginning. Throughout the school year, they faced physical and verbal assaults from white students, as well as death threats against themselves, their families, and other members of the black community. In the following May, Ernest Green became the first AfricanAmerican student ever to graduate from Central High. The courageous actions of the Little Rock Nine had helped open the door of education for African Americans all across the nation.
In 1963 the March on Washington attracted the whole nation's attention. It was attended by about 250,000 people and so it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation's capital, and one of the first thathad extensive television coverage. Several civil rights organizations with different political views took part in it. One of the "Big Six" organizers was Martin Luther King, Jr. Blacks and whites walked side by side and demanded amongst others meaningful civil rights legislation, the abolition of racial segregation in public schools, a $2 an hour minimum wage and self-government for the District...