The Modern Civil Rights Movement can be traced back to the arrival of blacks in America as slaves in 1619, through the questions of slavery pondered (and ultimately avoided) by the Founding Fathers, into the increasing rancor of the 19th century and the abolitionist movements and the rise to prominence of such black luminaries as Frederick Douglass. The questions of civil rights was obviously a profound aspect of the Civil War, and an animating aspect of Reconstruction. In the earlier twentieth century, the battle was waged by men like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, though the two differed powerfully and angrily in their ideas.
The first major event of the modern civil rights movement was the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education, which overturned desegregated schools across the nation. Schools, especially in the South, were slow to comply, and often attempts to register black students broke out in violence.
Meanwhile, in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man in December 1955 and sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a successful protest that took over a year and ended with the Supreme-Court-ordered desegregation of Montgomery buses. The boycott also brought to fame a young pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the protest.
The attempts at school desegregation and the bus boycott began a flood of protest demonstrations that engulfed the country. In 1960, students pioneered the sit-in as a form of protest, and soon sit-ins sprang up all over the nation. Groups like SNCC, CORE, and SCLC organized rallies, demonstrations, and massive campaigns in cities that were famous for discrimination.
The movement benefited from massive media attention, which stirred up international sympathy through its pictures and video of protestors peacefully demonstrating for their...