The civil rights movement was a period of time when blacks attempted to gain
their constitutional rights of which they were being deprived. The movement has
occurred from the 1950’s to the present, with programs like Affirmative Action.

Many were upset with the way the civil rights movement was being carried out in
the 1960’s. As a result, someone assassinated the leader of the movement, Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Many blacks were infuriated at this death so there were
serious riots in almost 100 cities. President Johnson then appointed a committee
called The Kerner Commission to study the civil rights movement. They concluded
the following: “We are moving toward two societies-one white and one black,
separate and unequal.” There is some truth to the Kerner Commission report, but
on the whole the civil rights movement has been a success because blacks are
better off now than they were before it began.


The Kerner Commission report has some truth when it comes to blacks and politics,
but overall the movement was a success because blacks have achieved more
politically than before they began. Before the movement, blacks had almost no
political power due to laws designed to prevent blacks from voting, like poll
taxes, literacy tests and the Grandfather Clause. Also when some blacks went to
vote, people simply wouldn’t let them register. Due to lack of voting ability,
no blacks were elected into office and therefore, blacks had no say in the
government. Also, blacks were not allowed to serve on juries, yet they were
almost always found guilty in court, even if the evidence was clearly against
them. For example, years ago a boy in Georgia broke into a school to steal an
ice cream. While he should have gotten a few hours of community service, he got
three years in jail just because he was black. A truth to the Kerner Commission
report that occurs today is that blacks are not being represented in Congress
proportionally. While 12% of U.S. citizens are black, there is only one black in
the Senate out of a hundred seats. This is a failure because blacks should be
proportionally represented because it is their right to have a sufficient say in
government. However, the civil rights movement was more of a success because
blacks got the vote. The 24th amendment outlawed the Poll tax, the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 protects the rights of all citizens to vote, and the Voting Rights
Act of 1965 ended literacy tests and let the Federal government register voters
to make sure that they aren’t discriminated again. Because of this new political
power they have obtained, blacks have the ability to elect other blacks to
represent them. There are over four times as many blacks in office today, than
before the movement. This helped the blacks because they could have a
representative to speak for them. A few years ago, a black named David Dinkins
was elected mayor of one of the largest cities in America, New York. In 1968,
Chrisam became the first black woman in the House of Representatives and in 1984,
a popular black leader, Jesse Jackson ran for president. All this is a success
because one of their goals was to have political power and equal opportunity. A
second reason why the civil rights movement was politically more of a success
than a failure is due to the fact that blacks are better off in the courts than
they were. Now, blacks are allowed to serve on juries, and they are hardly ever
discriminated in court as opposed to when the boy was over-sentenced for
stealing an ice cream. For example, O.J. Simpson, who was accused of killing his
wife, received a fair trial and was let off not-guilty. In the 60’s in the south,
he would have been found guilty very quickly.


In the economic sense, the Kerner report has some truth today, but overall the
civil rights movement was a huge success in this area because blacks are much
better off today than they were before the movement. Before the civil rights
movement, almost every black was very poor and they weren’t able to get good
jobs because of their skin color. There was no middle class for blacks, just a
lower class. They didn’t have equal opportunity. An economic failure of the
movement is the amount of poor blacks that still exist. The children which are
products of this particular type of segregation live in a poor neighborhood, go
to a poor school, receive an inadequate education or drop-out so they then can
only receive a bad job or no job at all. These people have children and the
process starts all over again. This is a failure because it prevents blacks from
advancing themselves in society. However, the civil rights movement in this area
is more of a success than a failure because of what can be achieved by
blacks,their ability to obtain much more money than before the movement and not
all blacks are in the cycle of poverty. For example, there is now a middle class
of blacks which is a huge success because it shows that blacks are able to
achieve the same things as whites, it sets a goal for poorer blacks and
eventually more will grow into this class. Another example of an economic
success is Affirmative Action. This was a program made by the Federal Government
which had to be used by companies with a past record of discrimination or
companies who sought to do business with the Federal government. These two types
of companies had to hire a certain percent of minorities. It was made to help
minorities catch up with the whites in the business world. It is an attribute to
the civil rights movement because it gave blacks jobs and opportunities.


Socially, the Kerner Commission report is partly true today, but overall the
civil rights movement was a success because blacks are much better off socially
than they were before the movement began. Before the movement blacks and whites
were segregated in every public place imaginable such as restaurants, buses and
theaters. Blacks were also forced to go to separate schools, and theirs were
quite often the worse ones. The schools didn’t receive as much money, and the
education they received was often inferior to that of the whites. One social
failure of the civil rights movement that still exists today is Defacto
segregation. That is segregation that exists, but is not required by law. It was
originally caused when poor blacks moved into the urban areas, and the whites
fled to the suburbs, or richer part of the cities. It hurts the blacks in that
it caused a non-stop cycle of poverty. It is a failure because despite the laws
made to integrate everyone, segregation which can’t be lawfully stopped still
exists. Despite this, the social civil rights movement was more of a success
than a failure, because blacks were integrated everywhere else, and Defacto
segregation can’t be prevented by law. In 1954, all nine Supreme Court justices
declared having “Separate but equal” schools was unconstitutional. So after many
years, public schools were integrated. This helped the blacks because it gave
them equal opportunities, and it gave the blacks a chance to show that they were
equal to whites. It is a success because blacks got a better education and
didn’t feel inferior. A second social success was integration in all public
places. This came about from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was made after
the government witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s silent protests. They also
realized how unfair segregation by color was. Some examples of silent protests
would be when blacks would “sit-in” at an all white restaurant, all day long
just to protest segregation’s injustice to blacks. They also boycotted and
marched. The integration in public places helped the blacks and was a success
because it got them equal rights which was one of their major goals.


As stated above, there are a few truths to the Kerner Commission report today,
but the successes of the civil rights movement outweigh the failures. Blacks are
better off because they have achieved political power, received equal
opportunity, better pay and better jobs in the workforce and have ended
segregation. Things can only get better for the blacks now, and maybe they can
turn some of the small failures of the civil rights movement into successes.
Category: Social Issues