The Civil Rights Era in the American history took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. .During this period, there were three main areas that were the focus points for black American rights. Blacks were treated differently regarding housing, education and voting. In this lesson, we will focus on voting rights where Blacks were very unfairly treated.
Blacks had no voting rights before March 30, 1870. This was the time when the 15th amendment gave them the right to vote. However, there were so many laws in many states that made it difficult for them to vote. Some states passed laws that required poll taxes and literacy tests in order to keep black Americans from voting. Making it more difficult to vote, for those who did qualify, they were often threatened and harassed. Because of this, they did not vote. This was very unfair because they were not able to vote for the issues that pertained to them.
Finally, there came a time when many blacks felt it was time to change things. They felt that they were treated like second-class citizens, and they decided to do something about it.
In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. started a voting rights campaign in Selma,
Alabama. Those who were interested in civil rights, went door to door to get blacks to vote. These people were often beaten and bullied. Because of this situation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. planned a march to the state capital of Montgomery to tell Governor Wallace about the unfair treatment.
Just as many political movements get turned down, so was the voting rights campaign turned down. Governor Wallace banned the march, but Dr. King and other civil rights workers were determined to get their views across.
On March 7, 1965, five hundred black marchers marched from Selma to Montgomery. The Selma police used tear gas, sticks and whips to break up the march. These marchers were treated so badly that over 2500 people, blacks and whites, joined the march.
It was at this time when President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress for a bill to protect black American voters. He also announced that he would send federal troops to Selma to protect the marchers so that they could complete their march to Montgomery.
Finally, the marchers were “heard.” In August, Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This meant that all black Americans had the right to vote. This began the era when black Americans were elected to city, state and national government positions. We might add that President Barack Obama became the first black president in American history in the year 2008.
Source: A document for teachers on the Civil rights Era