Why did the Civil Rights movement in the United States become fragmented after 1966?

8 August 2016

It is safe to say that the main reason as to why the civil rights movement became fragmented after 1966 was the major ideological splits that had developed within the movement to civil rights for African Americans. Examples include; the rise of black power, the adoption of more radical tactics by certain civil rights groups such as the SNCC and CORE, and the ideological splits among those involved within the civil rights movement.

The rise of the concept of the Nation of Islam gave birth to the concept of a separate, ‘blacks only’ state, which clearly undermines the work of Martin Luther King to bring about inclusion and equality of rights and freedoms for African Americans. In addition, there was an ideological split towards the use of violence in the flight for civil rights. Around the year in question, organisations such as the SNCC and CORE began to adapt more violent, radical methods.

Why did the Civil Rights movement in the United States become fragmented after 1966? Essay Example

To give an example in 1966, after the resignation of James Farmer as the leader of CORE, the organisation adopted more and more radical principles and methods, an example of this is the expulsion of white members from the organisation. This was a clear influence from the Black Power movement and Malcolm X’s input into the civil rights movement. This movement and this man, who at one point was a member of the Nation of Islam, felt that more violent methods were needed in order to raise awareness of the economic and social struggles of African Americans.

However, groups such as the NAACP and the SCLC, the latter of which Martin Luther King was a member held the belief that through peaceful protest and using the law and constitution in their favor, they could; not only bring about the gain of civil rights for African Americans, resulting in racial equality, but they could also bring about the inclusion of African Americans into American society, which was criticized by members of other groups as they felt that as African Americans had not been accepted in mainstream, white American society in the past, so they were not going to be accepted in the future.

These groups were also criticized further by the radicals of the civil rights group, who felt that the NAACP and CORE as they felt, and expressed the opinion that Blacks should be prepared to react to violence, through any means possible. Furthermore, in addition to this, Martin Luther King was criticized by other groups. They felt that he dominated the movement and had too much influence over the movement, and was a glory seeker, using the campaigns to make a name for himself. Certain members of certain groups felt that he was controlled by a white government.

This was a clear indication that there were great ideological splits within the civil rights movement. In addition to the personality that was Martin Luther King, James Farmer who was the leader of CORE between 1942 and 1966, spoke at the Washington March three years before his resignation, resigned from the position as leader due to CORE’s increasing radicalization, of adopting more violent methods, moving away from the method of peaceful protest, for example sit-ins that they had used in the past, and moving away from trying to create, not a more inclusive society, but a more separated one.

Another ideological split in the campaign for civil right was the disagreement to which de jure change could bring about de facto change. For example, taking the example of the US Supreme Court ruling that segregation was acceptable, providing that the facilities and amenities were of an equal standard. This was de jure change, but de facto the facilities provided to blacks were of a poor standard, are were certainly not par with those provided for whites.

In addition, taking a later example, some of those involved in the civil rights movement were of the opinion that de jure the 1964 Civil Rights Act brought equal rights for African Americans but de facto the African American community still were not equal as this Act did not cover the voting rights of African Americans, and it was not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Africans were, legally equal to white Americans.

Others disputed that due the social and economic hardship from which African Americans were suffering; they still were not equal to whites. Therefore, in conclusion, the reason as to why the Civil Rights movement became fragmented after 1966 was because of the apparent ideological splits that existed among certain people, groups and organisations that were involved within the movement.

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