Paper on Lessons from Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s

Lessons from Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s

The 1960s Civil Rights Movement has a monumental impact on the modern American society. Martin Luther King, Jr. was as one of the efficient facilitators and source of inspiration for the movement. In August 28, 1963, Martin Luther delivered the “I have a dream” speech (“Martin Luther King”, n. d). The speech that characterized the segregation situation and the model that was to be used during the movement. How and why did the model become a success? The following case study uses the speech to explain the black segregation situation and the triumphant Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Slavery was prohibited in 1865 through the 13th Amendment. However, black people in America continued to suffer in a white supremacist American society. A century after the abolishment of slavery, segregation of the black community occurred through economic, social and political injustice. In the speech, King Jr. says that “One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty”. The blacks lived in ghettos as they could not afford decent housing due to economic discrimination (“Martin Luther King”, n. d). Socially, black people were not allowed to socialize and even share social amenities for example schools, hotel, and playgrounds. Politically, blacks had no voting rights in some states. It meant that they had no say in the country because they lacked representation in legislature (Ware, 2013).

Prior to 1960s, there were protects among the black communities that were characterized by violence. The crashes between whites and blacks caused fatalities. The police who were, majorly white quelled demonstrations through force. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was different in organization and leadership. The movement used social protests that were non-violent (Ware, 2013). In his speech, Martin Luther beseeched the protesters to use “maintain dignity and discipline” and not to allow “physical violence” (“Martin Luther King”, n. d). In order to have large demonstrations, there were organized groupings such as the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Students Nonviolent Coordination Committee and African American civil rights movement led by Martin Luther. Through such organizations, black people were able to influence large and widespread protests across the country. Also, the societies challenged judicial cases, boycotts, marches and mass jailings. The protests became noticeable and powerful, and provoked the authorities due to the social disorder they created (Ware, 2013).

The 1960s movement changed America in a great way. Some of the protests that generated national attention were the Birmingham and Selma movements in 1963 and 1965 respectively. The massive protests and arrests pressurized the government to enact the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in the following year. The laws banned discrimination in employment and public places based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Moreover, from Voting Rights Bill, all people were allowed to vote without barriers used previously to disallow them in some states. Blacks were also discriminated in ownerships of homes, and the Fair housing Act of 1968 ended the discrimination (Ware, 2013).

Today, America has some of the finest laws that safeguard discriminative acts. The minority groups are protected by the law. Through peaceful protests, challenging judicial decisions, boycotts and civil rights lobby groupings, all groups of people are able to ask for legal protection. Thus, the model continues to be applied in modern day petitioning. The strategy has been appropriate and effective in fighting for civil liberties enabling a social change in America. Although the fight for social, economic and political equality continues, the laws enabled by the 1960s movements have reduced discrimination.



Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream. Address at the March on Washington (n.d). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from

Ware, L. (2013). Civil Rights and the 1960s: A Decade of Unparalleled Progress. Maryland Law Review, 72(4), 1086-1095. Retrieved April 17, 2019, from