Civil Rights Movements

The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for blacks to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t end discrimination against blacks—they continued to endure the devastating effects of racism, especially in the South. The movement was mostly nonviolent and resulted in laws to protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of colour, race, sex or national origin.

Brown vs. Topeka

It was a 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared segregated schools to be “inherently unequal.”

In 1876, Kansas required that all of its public schools be open to all students, regardless of their race. Just three years later, however, the legislature backed away from its enlightened approach to racial issues and authorized school boards in cities of over 15,000 persons to establish separate black and white schools for elementary and junior high students. Topeka operated twenty-two elementary schools at the time the Brown suit was filed in 1951. In many cases, black students were forced by the policy of segregation to attend a designated black school far from their homes when a much closer elementary school, open only to whites, was nearby.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Court held that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Within three years of the Supreme Court’s decision, integration of Topeka’s schools was complete.

Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine black students who enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957. The children were carefully picked. Their attendance at the school was a test of Brown v. Board of Education. They were also the first blacks to attend high school.

On September 2, 1957, Governor Orval Faubus announced that he would call in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the African-American students’ entry to Central High, claiming this action was for the students’ own protection. Faubus insisted that violence and bloodshed might break out if black students were allowed to enter the school.

Several of the Little Rock Nine went on to distinguished careers.

The role of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a political activist and a black woman. One day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, a long-standing tradition in the south, which triggered a huge chain of events that ultimately helped start the civil rights movement. After she was arrested for not giving up the seat a boycott of black people riding buses in Montgomery, Alabama ensued, that lasted for a year and inspired many to rise up and demand equal rights. One of them was Martin Luther King.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term coloured people. The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and the Spingarn Medals are for outstanding positive achievement of any kind, frequently political. Its headquarters are now located in Baltimore, Maryland and over half a million members.

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by the former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century, and by Oklahoma when it gained statehood in 1907, although not by the former border slave states. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

March of Washington, The role of Martin Luther King

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement. Among many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honours. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

Loving vs Virginia case

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of colour, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “coloured”.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labour law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits the labour application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people in the United States. The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Movement were not effective in changing race relations.

The Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California to challenge police brutality against the African American community.


Gender role differences? What were the strengths and limitations of being a woman? To elaborate on the subject, why was Stuart (skeeter’s bf) so upset with Skeeter?

A: probably cos of the book cos he was a racist. He only thought of how this would affect him and didn’t want to be left out of the rich community.-> “U a selfish woman Skeeter,” – What does this tell us about his intelligence/ability to see the bigger picture,  elucidate us the irony.

What role does a man play in each family->how do the women react to those roles; are they satisfied, furious etc?

A: In most families, the man is the one earning the money, the white women seem to be pretty satisfied with sitting around the house all day and hosting parties. In Minny’s case, the man is abusive and dictating. It makes her angry and scared but she’s dependent on him, so she can’t leave. Skeeter, on the other hand, doesn’t really want to get married and is very independent, speaks bluntly what’s in her mind.

What details did you notice that the filmmakers had given to African-Americans’ everyday lives?

A: They had to ride a separate bus to white families. They were not allowed to talk to white people. They had work on top of work. Constantly disrespected.

What were some of the things that black people/the maids were not allowed to do, compared to whites, that were shown in the movie? Why?

A: Use the same toilet, eat at the same table, talk to them informally, talk back, be interviewed, use the same books as a white person at school, ride on the bus at the same part. The white people thought of them as dirty and for that reason didn’t want to use the same items. They also felt superior and thought they could act however they want and have power over these people.

What do you think Hilly meant in the scene where she does not want to use the bathroom she thinks Aib had used and when Skeeter tries to make fun of the situation, Hilly says: “You shouldn’t joke about the coloured situation, I do whatever it takes to protect our children.” ->Describe the irony here.

A: the women made very little effort to even deal with their children and it was all done by black maids.

Aibileen kept repeating to the child she took care of “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”, why do you think was it so accentuated/ why was it so pronounced in the movie?

A: She probably wanted the child to grow up kind and not racist like the women at that time, also she knew that her own mother wasn’t giving her any love but Aibileen loved all those children like her own. It might have been so pronounced to show that despite the rudeness of the white women and how much they hated them, the maids still cared for the children like their own and loved them.


For my visual, I have chosen a quite gruesome picture. It depicts Theatrice Bailey, brother of the Lorraine Motel’s owner scraping the blood of Marthin Luther King Jr off the balcony after his assassination. I chose it because the whole movement was quite bloody and violent and pictures like this show how bad it actually was. These people risked and lost their lives because they believed they deserve equal rights. They spoke up and in return were killed or beaten. These pictures will remain forever to show how unfair humanity has been (and sometimes still is to this day) and the mistakes we should never repeat. I believe we should be ashamed of ourselves for the harm we have caused to these innocent people. And equality should’ve been possible to achieve without such violence.


The movie, “The Help”, for what it was, is quite historically accurate. It does only show the maids part of the inequality of races but it still gives a good idea of how they were treated.
To me, this movie is less about the ugliness of the era than an optimistic tale about the ability of people, surrounded by hatred, to love one another. It definitely doesn’t show the full cruelty of the era and seems more like an American fairytale. In that sense, it is lacking in my eyes, I wouldn’t call it a history movie for that reason. I find it a bit too fairytale like.
How the maids were treated was definitely accurate. They were forbidden a lot of things and treated like trash. I find it utterly ironical although how the white women were afraid of getting diseases from the maids by using the same toilet but they had no problem with them raising their children.

“The Help is essentially a soap opera, but one that features some impeccable acting and evidences a social conscience.”


were the thoughts of one critic. I also think the movie is less about showing the people nowadays about the inequality of the races but more about making fun of the way of living and rude methods used back then. The actions of the whites are ridiculed in the movie and made fun of. This does make the issue seem less real and cruel but at least shows that we, as a humanity, can move on.
One other flaw I found with the movie was how they used stereotypes for the characters rather than making them seem like actual people. The characters are either, good but have suffered for long, black women and whites who support them or incredibly evil white women. This was although saved by the great acting. The actors of Minny and Skeeter are some of my all-time favourites.

“Never have I watched a movie where you cry and laugh at the same time.”

( – by busbfran)

This movie is definitely very moving and gripping, you are bound to be emotional. For me personally, when I started watching it, I didn’t want to stop. So having to stop and continue in the next lesson was quite upsetting. You couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen next. And after the movie, you’re just speechless.
To summarise, the movie was very well made with amazing actors but I would’ve liked seeing a bit more history and less comedy show.

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