On Nov. 13, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated buses in Alabama were unconstitutional.
The ending of the Civil War was hardly the end of discrimination against African Americans. The early hopes for a colorblind society were quickly dashed as the Northern occupation of the South ended, and a series of discriminatory laws began constructing a segregated society, sometimes enforced by prejudice, sometimes by illegal violence, and sometimes by the law itself.
In 1896, in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court declared that separate, but equal facilities for different races were permitted. This led to the construction of two very separate, and not very equal societies for blacks and whites in the South and elsewhere.
In the 1950s, this system was overturned through a series of courageous actions in many places, combined with a shrewd legal strategy by the NAACP and others. One such action was the Montgomery Bus Boycott, ignited by Rosa Parks, led by a then mostly unknown Martin Luther King, Jr., and supported by virtually the entire African American population of Montgomery, Alabama and elsewhere.
- The successful Civil Rights movement for African Americans has led to a series of further movements to promote Civil Rights for other groups. What are some of these other movements? In what ways are they similar, and in what ways are they different, from the earlier civil rights movement?
- The goal of the Montgomery Bus Boycott was to get equal access and equal treatment for African Americans – to create an even playing field. Has that objective changed? If so, in what ways? If not, what are the current barriers to “an even playing field” and how do they differ from those of the past?
1, Dec. 1955, Rosa Parks -Legacy [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from < biography.com/video/rosa-parks-legacy-15821379604>.