American History

American History

The Civil Right Movement in 1960’s America.

The dominant misconception of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) is that it occurred within a very short time period i.e. between 1954-1965. Branded the “classical phase” of the CRM, there is no doubt the influence television had as they delivered on a nightly basis to the living rooms of middle class America and indeed the world, scenes of brutality and injustice of segregation in the South.

As America fought a long and costly war in Vietnam and TV news showed a running tally every night of the body bags holding dead American soldiers (average age 19), white middle class America began to examine its own conscience and moral values asking why they were fighting for freedom and democracy abroad when millions of their own citizens at home (mainly African Americans) did not have these privileges.

Led by its luminary, Martin Luther King, (MLK) the CRM attracted mass support throughout America and the eloquence of MLK with his non-violence agenda shone like a beacon. Alternatively the CRM had a darker side which rejected Kings non violent agenda with groups such as the Black Panthers, Nation of Islam and Black Power advocating self-defence and frightened white America.

Whilst the majority of the 8 week classes will discuss the “classical phase” of Civil Rights, we shall also look at the historical background commencing with Lincolns emancipation of the slaves during the American Civil War (1861-65) and the reconstruction of the South up to the end of the 19th Century.

Progressing through the 20th Century we look at events which affected Civil Rights such as The Depression, WW1 &WW2, KKK and lynching, Grass Roots, Presidents Kennedy and Johnston, Vietnam, Counterculture, Freedom Movements and America in flames in 1968 as riots spread across all major cities.

We will look behind the headlines and get the “story behind the story” and dispel some myths prevalent in the popular narrative.

Civil Rights in America is a fascinating story but also vast and we only scratch the surface and highlight the salient points of the story. If we have enough time at the end, we can discuss where we are today in relation to civil rights. Following a coloured President (Obama) then a controversial one (Trump) and currently a more traditional one (Biden), we will try to establish if race relations have improved or diminished over the past 60 years since the end of the Classic Phase

Class withdrawn for this term

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Classes are run by Harris Education and Recreation Association HERA