Fighting for Civil Rights

February 01, 2010 Schools

During the 1950s, black leaders began to use marches, demonstrations and the courts to defeat racist laws. Their efforts are known as the civil rights movement. The most famous court case of the civil rights movement began in 1950 when 7-year-old Linda Brown of Topeka, Kansas, was denied access to a school that was just four blocks from her home because she was black. Linda's father went to court and on May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation (or separating races) in public schools violates the Constitution.


...on Buses

Another important civil rights milestone happened on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. On that day, Rosa Parks, a black seamstress who also worked for the NAACP, was asked to give up her bus seat to a white person. She refused and was arrested by police. Black leaders urged black people to boycott, or refuse to use, the buses in Montgomery. A young preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. led the peaceful boycott. Though originally scheduled for only one day, the boycott lasted 381 days. People walked many miles to work or home to avoid using the buses and the bus companies lost around $3,000 each day. The U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that Montgomery could no longer have a segregated public transportation system because it violated the Constitution.


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