April 01, 2010 African Diaspora
Civil Rights Movement: Revisited
If asked, "When did the civil rights movements began," commonly many would say that the Civil Rights movement began on December 1, 1955. On this day, Rosa Parks (1913-), a black seamstress, refused to cooperate with a segregation law. As she boarded a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she took a seat in the designated "black" rows in the back. When the bus filled up she was asked to move so that a white man could have her seat. She refused to give the man her seat and then was arrested. However, while this specific incident received national attention, one could argue that the civil rights movement began during slavery. Many sought ways to get equal and just rights in those times. In the 1830s, black communities had groups organized specifically to oppose slavery and promote racial advancement. Schools and literary societies were common in the urban North.
All black organizations were devoted to abolishing slavery. (Bennett, 112) Also in1830, these communities began sending delegates to a national Negro convention where they discussed strategies for abolition and racial advancement. African Americans worked with white allies in integrated antislavery organizations. They were determined to let their own voices be heard. Discrimination and legal restrictions on social and political rights encouraged some African Americans to leave the United States. Some immigrated back to Africa. Other destinations included the West Indies, Mexico, and Europe. (Klein, 67) African Americans were also likely to seek fuller freedom and safety from kidnapping by escaping to Canada (where slavery was abolished in 1833). The majority remained in the United States, tied to their homes by kinship and a sense of entitlement. They hoped to gain citizenship rights and were committed to fighting for the freedom of those still...