The American Civil Rights Movement was a collection of various social, political, and economic rights movements that aimed to improve the lives of African Americans. These movements were seen during the period of 1946 to 1968. Civil Rights activists tackled the issues from different approaches that included lawsuits, lobbying the federal government, direct action, black power, and more. While the overall result of the efforts was positive, it did not come about without strong opposition. 

How Did It Start?

As stated, the Civil Rights Movement was more of a collection of approaches rather than something that started all of a sudden. Reading any high-quality Civil Rights essay examples will help you understand the background and causes of the movement. People in the United States who believed in ending slavery were already trying to eliminate it by the time the American Revolution took place. So, the fight to give people of color their due rights was already going on.

These efforts played a part in Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which later became the Thirteenth Amendment in the US Constitution. This Amendment officially deemed slavery illegal in 1865. The period of Reconstruction that came after the Civil War saw the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments too. These essentially led to political equality for people of color. 

However, even with the abolition of slavery, segregation still remained. Under a caste system named Jim Crow, this meant that the Southern people of color would have to live in poverty while the supremacists continued to deny them the rights they now had on an official level. 

The fact that the promises of Emancipation had not come to fruition is what kicked off the movement for Civil Rights in the 20th Century. A part of the reason was also the experiences that colored soldiers had had during World War II. 

Outcomes in the Court

Some of the earliest moves to end racial discrimination were in the courts. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People helped get the ruling from the Supreme Court that segregating African American people from others in public education was unconstitutional. Even though there was resistance, this act was a big win in the grand scheme of things. If you have ever wondered why is freedom of speech important, it is so that people can voice their opinions more easily than in bygone eras when the NAACP had to fight for basic rights. 

Disobedience and Protests

Another important action that was taken by Civil Rights leaders was to turn towards civil disobedience. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched after Rosa Parks, a woman of color, refused to leave her seat on the bus for someone white. One of the leaders for this boycott was Martin Luther King Jr. and this became the first action of its kind that paved the way for many others across the country. It was acts like these that have made it possible today to speak out and take down racist statues that have stood proudly on the country's lands for a very long time. 

March to Montgomery

Some 500 marchers who were being headed by John Lewis and Hosea Williams as they marched to Montgomery were attacked by state troopers. This violence, on a day that came to be known as Bloody Sunday, was shown on television. This was just one of the many injustices people of color have had to endure during this period. Martin Luther King Jr. then took the lead to take marchers to the Alabama State Capitol as part of his campaign to secure the right to vote in Selma, Alabama. 

Black Power

The civil rights legislation, in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was a very big win for the efforts as a whole. However, some people of color were concerned about the fact that there were a number of whites in the effort. This concern was deepened after the Freedom Summer of 1964 in which students of both races went on a voter registration drive. This caused some to believe that white leadership was taking over the effort. 

As a result, a more militant side was introduced to Civil Rights activism. Malcolm X became one of the most important supporters of the idea that people of color should be self-reliant and be able to defend themselves. This approach came to be known as Black Power and only grew stronger after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. 

The Impact 

There were a number of victories that were seen as a result of these efforts. Human rights were afforded to people of color in many different ways over time and a general awareness was created in the U.S. about the events that saw so many people lose their lives. The Jim Crow Laws in the South were abolished and it became illegal to discriminate on the basis of color. 2008 saw the country's first-ever black leader take office in Washington which became a milestone in the national history of the country. 

However, there is still much to be done. The level of socio political and economic equality that proponents of the Civil Rights movement worked to achieve is still not there. Whether it is the fact that black men become victims of police brutality more than anyone else or their stereotypical portrayal in movies and films, there is an inequality that people of color still suffer from. 


Despite the issues that still remain within the society, no one can deny all the good that was achieved for people of color thanks to the Civil Rights efforts of those brave Americans that lived before us. From being treated inhumanely and not being able to vote to having someone from their own community running the country, the people of color have come a long way in their fight for equal rights.