Civil Rights

The Civil Rights Movement and the escalating war in Vietnam were the

two great catalysts for social protest in the sixties. Since the end of the Civil War many organizations had been created to promote the goals of racial justice and equality in America, but progress was painfully slow. It was not until the sixties that a hundred years of effort would begin to garner the attention necessary to force a modicum of change. There was little consensus on how to promote equality on a national level—groups such as the NAACP, CORE, and Dr. Martin Luther King's SCLC, endorsed peaceful methods and believed change could be affected by working around the established system; other groups such as the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Nationalist Movement advocated retaliatory violence and a separation of the races. There were numerous marches, rallies, strikes, riots, and violent confrontations with the police. National leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X would be assassinated, violence would claim the lives of young and old, and rigged all-white juries mocked justice in cases involving crimes perpetrated by whites against African Americans. Restaurants, hotels, night clubs, public facilities, and the school systems were still segregated during the early sixties, and educational and job opportunities for minorities were far below those available to the white majority. The African-American community, being in the minority, depended on the support of the white population, and at least in terms of sentiment, those caught up in the spirit of the hippie movement took the cause of racial justice and equality to heart, and often to the streets.

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