The Civil Rights Motion and the first Modification

Civil rights movement photo courtesy of the Freedom Forum


When the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that the segregationist doctrine of “separate but equal” was unconstitutional, our government, our society and our selves were redefined.

With this decision, the court achieved the same status as the other two branches of government – legislative and executive – and fulfilled the aspirations for democracy in our nation.

At this turning point, a young Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as the new advocate and leader of a movement that many hoped would use the Supreme Court ruling to make democracy “real”.

King understood the power of the First Amendment and its guaranteed freedoms, particularly the right to peacefully protest. He brought that power to life and helped make Brown’s promise come true the following year as he uttered the words that gave the Montgomery, Ala., Bus boycott its foundation:

“The only weapon we have in our hands tonight is the weapon of protest. That’s all.”

In King’s words, sparking a peaceful mass protest against racial injustice, became the leaders and legions called to action after Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery for refusing to get on a city bus that wanted to change the nation . They sparked social changes and trials that continue to this day.

For those who want to better understand this and other touchstone events in the struggle for civil rights, we have created a free online course called “The First Change and the Civil Rights Movement”. Lessons cover major civil rights cases, video interviews with leading figures, and historical newspaper front pages from the Newseum collection to set the scenes.

The course’s interdisciplinary, multimedia design makes it an excellent resource for teachers, officials, social leaders, and others who wish to learn more about the roots of the First Amendment in the nation’s quest for racial justice spanning more than two centuries to “find a more perfect one To form union. ”

Because of the first change, this peaceful mass protest movement grew across the South in the mid-20th century and lasted for a decade. The South’s opposition to Brown made the racial segregation problem a violation of civil rights changes. This, in turn, caused federal courts at every level to reaffirm Brown in his most expansive form – with a free press and free speakers following every move.

These cases urged the courts from within to defy the southern district judges and appeal who openly championed the opposition to Brown. The doctrine of interposition that enabled states to stand between the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and federal law had to be repealed once and for all as an unconstitutional view of state rights.

The protests and petitions of the 1950s and 1960s led the White House and Congress to uphold their human rights enforcement obligations in Brown, which required bipartisan political engagement and action. The result was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Suffrage Act of 1965, which crowned moments in Congress history.

The Black Lives Matter movement is today’s version of Selma, Ala., In which nonviolent demonstrators in support of the voting rights for Black Americans were met with billy clubs and tear gas on Edmund Pettus Bridge. As David Halberstam wrote in his book The Fifties, the earlier movement formed the news media and the media America. The Freedoms of the First Amendment strengthened that education then and now by providing a free press and protecting the rights of those who marched when they tried to touch the conscience of the nation.

The first amendment is a primary tool for those looking to revive in the 21st century the efforts of the last century to revive the promises of freedom and equality made in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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Robert Bickel, Professor Emeritus of Law at Stetson University College of Law, and Gene Policinski, Senior Fellow for the First Amendment to the Freedom Forum, are the authors of The First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement, which is being launched with support from Stetson University was called and the Freedom Forum. The online course is available to everyone free of charge.

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