Naacp – The Most Important Civil Rights Organisation

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The main reason the civil right organisations began to emerge were because of the years of violence and pain that was bought upon the kidnapped African’s who were forced to work in plantations several years prior and despite their attempts for freedom then through publishing weekly issues of the radical weekly and the abolitionist North Star they would be promised freedom through the 13th amendment that would abolish slavery. On the other hand, African American’s would still be looked down upon and face years of segregation within their social life’s along with their personal lives as they would be given an poor education and forced to work in mines and coalfields. The Civil rights organisations played a major role in the civil rights movement and helping bring around change as due to their influence they helped enforce the civil rights act of 1964 which late on bought about change in the Supreme Court justice system which eventually was followed by desegregation. However, the organisations that would play a major role in history did not form during the start of the civil rights movements as people were oppressed from forming groups and protesting due to the Jim Crow law which enforced racial hatred and segregation. Furthermore, those who wished to start an uprising would be imprisoned or lynched and, in some cases, killed. However, the increase in prejudice and oppression would lead to many people having enough of how African Americans were treated which led to the formation of many groups over a period of time. These organisations would play a major role in ending segregation with many working together and applying other groups’ ideas with them. However, the most important organisation would be the NAACP. 

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The NAACP is the most important activism group because it is the oldest civil rights organisation. However, before it was the NAACP it was the Niagra movement a group that aimed to end segregation and help African American’s be accepted into society. The organisation was founded by Du bois who used to teach at the Tuskegee University and it would be differences between himself and Washington that would lead to the formation of the movement. The group’s main aim was to gain equality and seeked for an end to discrimination and segregationas many blacks were given unequal opportunities and were assaulted and attacked. Hence, the Niagra movement believed African Americans should no longer be victims of prejudice and should have an equal chance at life and an education. In addition, even though the group didn’t have an impact on legislation it did lead to the formation of the first black weekly magazine ‘The moon illustrated weekly’. This allowed the group to win the support of the middle-class white males which illustrates that the group was uniting cultures which had not seen eye to eye before as it was attracting white citizens who were also in favour of equal rights. Media has always been a medium that could help influence people’s minds and behaviours and this propaganda technique would be successfully used to gain for followers to support the campaign from different backgrounds and races. Furthermore, just to showcase how successful the organisation was Du bois managed to get his daughter into first-class education something that was very difficult for an African American to achieve which further emphasised the impact he and the organisation had made as African American’s were isolated and segregated into separate schools and education. This is showcased through the letter he sent to her claiming, even though the treatment of African American’s isn’t as brutal as it once was it is still the “Old world”. Meaning nothing is changing, everything is going back to how it was with colour segregation. 

However even though they had been oppressed from the right to an equal education his daughter was in one of “world’s greatest modern empires”. This showcases how some change has been made as she is in a good school awarded the right to a fair education despite being black as not all black girls were fortunate enough at the time as according to an article titled “Girl, 15, Guilty in Bus Seat Case” it is illustrated that an 15 year told female African American was found guilty for violating a city ordinance “Unlawful for any passenger to refuse or fail to take those seats assigned to race”. This illustrates how times still had not changed as despite the civil rights organisations protesting for change their were still certain restrictions that had forced them into segregation as they were not allowed to use public transport like others would. This source proves to be valuable as many African American women would be sexually assaulted and segeregated and despite African American’s being segregated in society it was worser for black women as they were seen as inferior. Also, even in employement they would be making far less then their peers which highlights the struggle of being a black woman in that era. On the other the hand source does seem to lose some value to as it presents African American women as weak despite women like Rosa Parks being defiant and taking a stand for what they believe. 

As a result of this there were some opposition to ideologies of peace and nonviolence that groups such as the Niagra movement inhibited. The group’s ideologies were a contrast to Booker T Washington’s ideologies. For example, in the Atlanta compromise he stated, ‘Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom’. This showcases how he believes reconstruction allowed the black citizens in the south to gain political power as they were able to win the election to state legislations and the US congress. However, they were still heavily segregated against and where still given separate publics areas from the whites which emphasises how very little to non-had changed. In addition, in a later memoir, Washington suggested he has used the depicting tone he had to ‘Inspire’ the southerners so they could finally accept African Americans. This source proves to be valuable as Washington was controversial for wanting African American’s to go back to their orginial countries and would constantly persuade white official and citizens to fulfill his wife. However, this would create many tension as many wanted to begin their lives in America. As a result, although the Niagara Movement had little impact on legislative action, its ideals led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of coloured people which would dominate legislatures by using laws and the court to fight injustices making it the most important civil rights organisation. Upon its founding, its focus was to create social equality and after the increase in the lynching of African Americans followed by the 1908 riots in Chicago the NAACP decided to end the equality and injustice that they faced. The NAACP began to fight racial tensions in 1910 with the Pink Franklin case. However, they would fail to win the case and despite not being victorious, they resolved to use the law to fight for equality. They did this using many methods. One of them being critiquing the then president Woodrow Wilson as he was the one who allowed segregation to take place in the government and after being pressurised by the organisation he forbade lynching. Moreover, another major impact the organisation had was to help unify schools within the south due to the Brown vs Board case, as in 1954 the supreme court ruled the racial segregation of children at schools unconstitutional. This was one of the biggest impacts during the civil rights movement as it helped establish the model ‘Separate – but – equal’. Furthermore, one of the biggest moments in the civil rights movement would occur soon – after a secretary of the NAACP Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. As a result, the Montgomery bus boycott followed thus becoming a springboard to enforce the policies the organisation believed in. According to Aldon. D. Morris. A scholar who experienced racism due to the Jim Crow act says, “Black protestors were impatient with the pace of racial change and with the caution of NAACP leaders, scholars nevertheless assumed political significance of mass military and was limited”. This illustrates how other organisations used the ideas and strategies advocated by national civil rights leaders. This is because many belived in peaceful protests which gives this source value. However, the source loses value to as not all the groups were using similar techniques and methods as organisations such as the the Black Panther movement were using violence and warfare to achieve their goals. The NAACP did not put the pressure on the government to help end segregation through one of the most important acts – The civil rights act of 1964 alone. Other organisations such as the SCLC and the Urban League helped put the pressure on the government as they could no longer ignore the voices of the masses thus enforcing the civil rights act which ended segregation and gave African Americans a chance to work without being segregated against. In addition, the Voting Rights Act would soon be followed, a federal legislation that prohibits discrimination in voting. In addition, in article titled ‘NAACP president wants more voice for the youth’ which was published in 1968 it states “Black teachers’ salaries were half of that of whites at the time”. The frustrated tone of this highlights the segregation African Americans were facing as they were underpaid and forced to work longer hours as they were only expected to work menial jobs as many were prohibited from the right to an good education and despite their being ‘Black teachers’ they were still only paid a labour workers wage as they were seen as low class workers because of their skin colour. 

However, the NAACP would battle this as they were also behind the legal battle to secure a ground-breaking win after it was declared segregating schools was violating the 14th amendment. However, this would not be their only Supreme Court victory as during the Tinker v Des Moines case they would capture another victory for students who were suspended for protesting the Vietnam War by supporting a black armband thus giving students and children an opportunity to change their lives by giving everybody the same education. The NAACP was the most important activist group during the civil rights movement because it helped pass important acts such as the civil rights and voting rights act. Through this The NAACP persuaded 80,000 African Americans in Mississippi to vote. During this time, 42% of Mississippi’s population was African American and only a staggering 7% had been registered to vote. Furthermore it also set up schools for children giving them a chance at an education in the south, a racially segregated place at the time as that is where the plantations used to be, and the banning of slavery caused a lot of money to be lost. Also during the war it fought for African Americans to serve as officers within the army. 

However, because of the success the NAACP was having other organisations would form to support the cause and despite not making a big of an impact as they did they would still play their part in fighting for justice and equality. the Student Non-Violent Committee played a major role within the civil rights movement because in 1960, activist Ella Baker who worked with the SCLC encouraged students who were involved in the sits ins to create their own organisation which opposed to Martin Luther King Jr’s ideology which required the students to carry on working with the SCLC. This led to many sit-ins and protests however a nonviolent manner was approached. The organisation would also organise the number of African American in the South. However, in the Mississippi freedom summer of 1964 the Ku Klux Klan would kill a handful of it’s members which showcases how the organisation’s members were not afraid to sacrifice themselves for justice. In addition, according to James Lawson, a theology student ‘We affirm the philosophical or religious ideals of nonviolence as the foundation of our purpose, the presupposition of our faith, and the manner of our action. Nonviolence, as it grows from Judaic-Christian traditions, seeks a social order of justice permeated by love. ‘ This illustrates despite opposing King’s view they did see eye to eye when it came to how rallies and public gatherings as the SCLC also used nonviolent methods to have their voices heard. However, as time progressed, they supported freedom rides, along with the 1963 march on Washington which eventually lead to the civil rights act of 1964 which ended segregation and banned unemployment bans on African Americans. On the other hand, however, many of the SNCC members where white which unsettled members of the white and black community but it does illustrate the diversity the group had created as members were mixed. Furthermore, in contrast to previous tactics of nonviolent methods more radical elements would be introduced in the late 60’s which would eventually lead to the SNCC being disbanded in the early 70’s. In contrary though, the SNNC had an major impact because they voiced their opinions and made change without promoting conflict or afflicting in violence. In addition, the SCLC, did not appeal to students and the SNCC directed the black voter registration drives within the south and despite losing three of its members during the Mississippi freedom summer it did not succumb to the use of violence and force to gain freedom. 

On the other the Congress of racial equality was also another activist group emerging however it would not make the impact the NAACP had. It was founded in Chicago and membership was open to ‘anyone who believes that ‘all people are created equal’ and willing to work towards the ultimate goal of true equality throughout the world. ‘ Also, to stand up against nonviolence and oppression they used similar techniques other groups did before them, they used the nonviolence as a mechanism. For example, they used to participate in campaigns and freedom rides which were used to fight the non-enforcement of the Supreme Court as well as the march on Washington for freedom and jobs and to gain social and economic rights of African Americans. However, by the late 60’s the group started to focus on Black Nationalism and separatism. Black Nationalism seemed to develop an identity for African Americans, whereas separatism seeked autonomy. Core was an important activist group during the civil rights movement as a result because it introduced many things such as the freedom rides and freedom summer voter project which seeked to expand voting rights to African Americans in the south, along with fighting racism through silence protests. Also, they had white members, middle class. This illustrates that they had a further reach as they were attracting white middle-class men to fight racism and segregation. However, most of their members where white and middle class which did showcase their diversity of the group as they had attracted white middle-class men towards the organisation as well. 

The Black Panthers was another organization founded in 1966 to oppose violence from police on African American’s. However, the reason they were not as important as the NAACP was because their methods to achieve their goals were a contrast to beliefs as this organisation was more rebelious. They would conduct citizen patrols of U. S. cities and had over 2000 members. In addition, the group was founded after Malcolm X would be assassinated and after the murder of a black teen Matthew Johnson. Furthermore, at first when they were formed, they would monitor the police and took part in community control and focused pride within. However, their main ideology was to have more African Americans in a political role in office. The main difference on the other hand with this organisation was that they didn’t believe in peaceful protests they believed violence should be used to get attention and people to notice. However, in contrast to the violence they began social programs that would provide free breakfast for children and began free health clinics within African American communities to help those who couldn’t afford medical costs and bills. The groups violent ways did catch up to them which hindered them as a group and slowed down the groups influence as they would be involved in encounters with the police as Huey Newton one of the founders of the group had taken the life of a police officer in 1968 and ws convicted of manslaughter in 1968, however the decision would later be reversed in court. In contrary to this, conflicts within the group led to troubles within the organisation to as in 1969 a black panther member was tortured and killed by other members of the group. Also, the bookkeeper for the organisation was founded murdered and despite no one being charged it was believed the organisation was responsible. The Black Panther movement also had an major effect during the civil rights movements because it set up programs that would feed helpless school children, they also gave free medical attention to African American’s who couldn’t afford it as many African American’s could not eat due the bad financial situation they had at home as many African Americans were banned from getting high paid jobs and instead were forced to work labour jobs. 

The SCLC however would also play a major role as activism group during the civil rights movement because unlike other organisations such as the SNCC and SCLC they worked with other organisations instead of recruiting people to raise membership. They were still not as important as the NAACP though as they did not make a big impact on laws and the court. They were behind the formation of the citizenship schools founded by Septima Clark which increased voting’s for African Americans. Moreover, they participated in the Albany movement which challenged all types of discrimination and segregation. Furthermore, they played a major part in enforcing the Selma voting rights march and the Birmingham Campaign all used to stop racial oppression and tension. They also used many ideas other organisations had established and put them into one organisation. However, Hannah Markova wrote in 2008, the SCLC “Represented a significant turning point in the movement”. This is a trustworthy statement as in 2008 the first black African American president would be elected which signifies how far the community has come. However, the source seems to lose value to as this did not end racial tenstions and segregation. Instead it split the country in half as it was hard to fathom their was a non-white president. 

The organisation was also affiliated with Churches and they became places where meetings were held. Money to fund the organisation was also raised by donations from church. Moreover, sit inns allowed the group to gain power and confidence and it achieved its agenda by getting the blacks and whites together. However, in 1961 they began involving themselves in issues in Albany, Georgia, however the authorities did not support this, and this resulted in no media coverage for the group thus meaning the campaign in Georgia was a failure. The SCLC was the most important activism group because it supported African American through building schools and enabling them to vote and even though their campaign failed in Georgia, in Birmingham in 1963 everything had changed for the organisation. The reaction of city authorities led to worldwide outrage as videos of dogs attacking protestors emerged along with children being attacked with high pressure hoses. As a result, the SCLC forced Birmingham to become desegregated and the videos that emerged of dogs and hoses attacking protestors had reached president Kennedy who helped enforcing the 1964 Civil rights act. 

In summary, even though the NAACP, SCLC and the Niagra movements led to many changes such as enforcing polices and helping bring around acts which would temporarily pause tension and hatred. For instance, the National association for the advancement of coloured people helped unify schools within the south due to the Brown vs Board case, as in 1954 the supreme court ruled the racial segregation of children at schools unconstitutional. The Student nonviolent coordinating committee supported freedom rides, along with the 1963 march on Washington which eventually lead to the civil rights act of 1964 which ended segregation and banned unemployment bans on African Americans. The Niagra movement didn’t have an impact on legislation it did lead to the formation of the first black weekly magazine ‘The moon illustrated weekly’. This allowed the group to win the support of the middle-class white males which illustrates that the group was uniting cultures which had not seen eye to eye before. However, the most important civil rights organisation during the civil rights movement was the SCLC. This is because they were behind many of the marches and protests such as the march in Washington and the Selma voting rights which would increase votes in African Americans. Moreover, even though they would have a failed campaign in Georgia in 1961 after focusing on the civil rights issues their they did retaliate in Birmingham as after causing an uproar in authorities their they caught the attention of John F Kennedy who would help enforce the 1964 civil rights act which would bring an end to segregation and oppression thus bring around freedom for coloured minorities. 

10 Jun 2021

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