The mechanism which contributed to the development of the civil rights movement in the US was created by the 14th Amendment. The primary role of this amendment was to keep the Civil Rights Act (1866) in force. It provided that all people born in the US were to be granted citizenship and receive equal treatment under the US laws (Johan 2000). It encouraged equality under the law although the Act excluded Indians who were not taxed. This Act contained clauses such as Citizenship Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. For instance, the Citizenship clause provided a broader definition of who qualified to be a US citizen. The clause presented the decision in the ruling Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)according to which the Supreme Court did not recognize persons of an African origin as US citizens.
The Equal Protection Clause provided for equal protection for all US citizens regardless of their skin color provided they were within its jurisdiction. This was in line with the decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) where the court ruled that any kind of segregation in schools was unconstitutional. This was also in line with the decision in Reed v Reed (1971) where the court ruled that discrimination on grounds of sex was contradicting to this clause. This amendment slowed the pace of the rights movement since it addressed some of the crucial issues regarding discrimination.
The second factor that influenced the civil rights movement was theCivil Rights Act of 1866. This act was mainly enacted to protect the rights of African Americans. It provided that all persons born in the US and who were not subject to any foreign power were to be granted citizenships regardless of their color or race. It also provided citizens’ rights which included right to sue or be sued, right to contract, and the right hold or sale property. Since the Act was against segregation, it also slowed the pace of the movement since it addressed important issues on equality. The movements were also delayed by conflicts which arose among the leaders of the movements. For instance, Malcolm X and people from the Muslim community were against King and his tactic of non-violence.
Another contribution to the movement was made my activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was one of the forces behind the US civil rights movement. He participated both directly and indirectly in ensuring that adequate rights were granted to African Americans. Under his leadership several non-violent demonstrations and marches were held to protest against discrimination. For instance, in 1955 he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott was against discrimination in public buses. This acted as a motivation for black people who felt segregated hence making them join the civil rights movement. In 1963 King also led the March on Washington where both black and white students gathered to protest against segregation. This was the time when he delivered his thrilling ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. King was also behind the walk to the capital of Alabama protesting against discrimination during voter registration which was, however, prohibited.
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The philosophy of non-violence was illustrated, for instance, during the sit-in movement, when four college students from North Carolina and Greensboro remained in their seats when they were denied services because of their race (Martin 2012). This practice later became an achievement since it became a tactic widely applied. For instance, many protesters started using this tactic until their needs were met. Some court decisions also led to the development of the movement e.g. the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)case. In this case the state of Louisiana passed a law which provided separate railway transport and accommodations for blacks and whites. The court upheld the constitutionality of the Brown v. Board of Education providing on segregations. This decision set precedent until it was overruled in the case.
The main purpose behind the civil rights movement was to fight discrimination. This could only be achieved if people understood their rights and participated in choosing leaders who could protect their rights. This explains the importance of equal voting and access to education.
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