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Describe the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement


Topics on the Page

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act
  • Growth of the African American middle class, increased political power, and declining rates of African American poverty
    • Integration of Professional Sports
      • African Americans and Professional Baseball
      • African American First in Other Sports
      • African Americans and Professional Football
        • Includes a Lesson plan Washington Redskins and racist names for sports teams
      • African Americans and Golf

See also Historical Biography Page for Shirley Chisholm



Focus Question: What were lasting accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement?

timeline2_rus.svg.pngInteractive Historical Timeline for milestones in African American history beginning in 1619.
Roy Wilkins, executive secretary, NAACP, 1968.
Roy Wilkins, executive secretary, NAACP, 1968.


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Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 11.29.04 AM.png**13 Civil Rights Picture Books for Kids**


1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act


Civil Rights Acts
Civil Rights Act of 1957 was a first step in ensuring voting rights for African Americans. It established a Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice.

primary_sources.PNG First brought about by President Kennedy, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stated that:
  • all children, regardless of race, should be able to attend the same schools
  • no segregation in public places or the workforce would be allowed
  • the unequal requirements for voter registration were null and void

Multimedia.pngThe Freedom Summer of 1964, video, audio and photos. During Freedom Summer, many Northern, black and white, male and female college students into Mississippi to challenge that state's brutal segregation policies and to help blacks register to vote and get an education. The students were met with intimidation and violence from members of the KKK. The most famous case being the murders of Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. Click here to find out more.

See what a program called Freedom Schools (based off of the 1964 program Freedom Summer) is doing to help African American and Latino students with their literacy skills, leadership skills, and cultural knowledge.
Multimedia.pngClick here to hear an interview with author Bruce Watson about his book Freedom Summer that documents the efforts of hundreds of American college students.

President Kennedy was assassinated before the bill could be presented before the House and the Senate, but President Johnson continued to push the bill. It passed in the House in February and then in the Senate in July. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only was intended to end racial discrimination, but also declared that discrimination based on sex was illegal as well.

Multimedia.pngClick here for a video about the Civil Rights and the 1950s for a summary of the events that led up to the Civil Rights Movement and the events of the 1960s.

Voting Rights Act of 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965

primary_sources.PNG The Voting Rights Act of 1965 stated that:
  • The literacy tests used to determine whether blacks could vote in the United States were null and void. Click here to take the Alabama Literacy Test from 1965 that was used to restrict African Americans from voting.

The Jim Crow Laws that were established after Reconstruction were successful in continuing discrimination against blacks by making them pass literacy tests in order to practice their right to vote. Even though legally, through the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, blacks were granted the right to vote after the Civil War, southern whites often engaged in violent activities that discouraged blacks from voting.

The Jim Crow Laws and the literacy tests were forms of disenfranchisement.
  • Disenfranchisement is the taking away of civil or electoral privileges.
  • This term is often used in association with the situation existing before the Civil Rights Movement.

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external image Red_apple.jpgA lesson plan on the Jim Crow era. A lesson plan on the Alabama Literacy Test.

Growth of the African American middle class, increased political power, and declining rates of African American poverty

March on Washington, 1963
March on Washington, 1963

It is undeniable that racism still exists today in many places in American society. However, the strides made during the Civil Rights movement have greatly advance the situation of African Americans.
  • Thanks in part to the anti-discrimination laws passed during the Civil Rights movement, the African American middle class began to grow during the 1960s.
  • The rate of blacks graduating from high school and college jumped immediately following this period, which also led to better paying jobs being held by black Americans.
  • While still disproportionately high, the poverty rate for African Americans also dropped after this period.
  • Blacks have also becoming increasingly visible in the political sphere, holding many more politically powerful positions that prior to the Civil Rights movement.

Click here to read an analysis of the growth of the black middle class from Dateline.

lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President. This lesson focuses on the relation of the Civil Rights Movement to his election.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of African Americans and women in politics

African Americans in Congress by the Numbers from the Washington Post.

Rotating_globe-small.gifIntegration of Professional Sports


The integration of sports in America created a framework for changing racial attitudes toward people of color. Click here for a brief overview from ESPN

For a perspective, see the essay "Why Sports History is American History" by Mark Naison

African Americans and Integration of Professional Baseball

See also Historic Baseball Resources from the Library of Congress.

"Southern League": Birmingham Barons Break Racial Divide, from NPR describes how in 1964 the Barons became the first integrated professional sports team in Alabama.

external image JackieRobinson1945.jpg
Multimedia.pngJackie Robinson broke baseball's "color barrier" in 1947 as in this video from the History Channel. Robinson became the first publicly acknowledged African American to play in the MLB since 1884 when Moses Fleetwood Walker last played for the Toledo Mudhens. Robinson, prior to signing with the Dodgers, had had a tryout with the Boston Red Sox as did another Hall Of Fame player Willie Mays. Boston however would sign neither and would be the last team to integrate when Elijah "Pumpsie" Green joined the team in 1957.

See also, Jackie Robinson Integrates Major League Baseball (1947) from the PBS website, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.
primary_sources.PNGJackie Robinson Letter to President Dwight Eisenhower, May 3, 1958

Negro League World Series, opening game Oct. 11, 1924, Kansas City, Mo.
Negro League World Series, opening game Oct. 11, 1924, Kansas City, Mo.


Negro Leagues History from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.


Rotating_globe-small.gifSee also the following about Latinos and Baseball

African American Firsts from Other Sports
  • Willie O'Ree became the first black person to play in the National Hockey league in 1957, suiting up for the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. O'Ree did all this while being 95% blind in his right eye. However he would not be in the NHL for very long and would never play in it again after 1960 and it would be another 14 years for another black person to play in the NHL. In fact O'Ree was Canadian so an African-American did not play in the NHL until 1977.
  • Arthur Ashe was the first African American male to win the U.S. Open (1968) and Wimbledon (1975) Tennis Titles as well as the first African American male to play on the American Davis Cup team (1963). Althea Gibson was the first African American woman to win Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958.
  • Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1950. In a weird string of events, Cooper was the first African American drafted (Celtics 2nd round 1950), Clifton, of Harlem Globetrotters fame, was the first African American to sign a contract with a NBA team (NY Knicks) and Earl Lloyd was the first to play in a game due to the Washington Capitols schedule starting a day before Boston and four days before New York.

African Americans and Professional Football
Kenny Washington
Kenny Washington

  • Kenny Washington was the first African American to sign a contract with a National Football League team in 1946. Click here to read his story. and to learn about segregation and integration in professional football.
Multimedia.pngFor more, see Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football (official trailer on YouTube)

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Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins. Thomas G. Smith, Beacon Press, 2011 details how the Washington Redskins became the last team to integrate African American players. The Washington Redskins became the last NFL team to integrate its roster in 1962.


The 2,128 Native American Mascots People Are Not Talking About from FiveThirtyEight Sports, September 2, 2014

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“National Colored Tournament," Shady Rest Country Club, Westfield, NJ, July 12, 1925.
“National Colored Tournament," Shady Rest Country Club, Westfield, NJ, July 12, 1925.
African Americans and Golf

external image Beautiful_red_apple.jpgUneven Fairways is a documentary from the Golf Channel about the struggles of African Americans to integrate the professional golf tour. See the trailer on Vimeo here.

primary_sources.PNGSee also When the Fairways Weren't Fair from ESPN (February 11, 2009). The article includes text from the PGA charter banning Black players.

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngTimeline of African American Achievements in Golf from PGA.com


Redemption for Negro League Players. Story of 16 year old student working to connect old Negro League Teammates and even getting some their pensions from Major League Baseball. Click here for the story.

Multimedia.pngFor information about African American basketball teams in New York from 1900 to the 1950s, see The Black Fives from the New York Historical Society.

Major General Walter E. Gaskin, left, greets, Earl "The Pearl" Lloyd*, March 3, 2006.
Major General Walter E. Gaskin, left, greets, Earl "The Pearl" Lloyd*, March 3, 2006.



Bill Russell, 2005
Bill Russell, 2005























Works Cited

Civil Rights Act-1964. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from Our Documents Web site: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=97
Educators and Students: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from The National Archives Web site: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act/

Alabama Literacy Test circa 1965. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from Alabama Literacy Test Web site: http://kpearson.project.tcnj.edu/interactive/imm_files/test.html

Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from NPS.gov Web site: http://www.nps.gov/archive/malu/documents/amend14.htm

Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from NPS.gov Web site: http://www.nps.gov/archive/malu/documents/amend15.htm
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disenfranchise