The social and political unrest of the Civil Rights movementLegal and other efforts led by African Americans against racism and segregation and for the... More characterized and defined the decade of the 1960s. From Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963, to the televised police assaults on blacks in Birmingham, Alabama, with police dogs and water hoses, to the bombing of a black Birmingham church that killed four young girls, to the murders of civil rights workers Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner in Mississippi, the decade became a testament to the social, political and economic realities of violent and deep-seated racial hatred. In 1964, the massive Mississippi voter registration drive “Freedom Summer” increased black registered voters from 7% to 67% of those eligible in the five years after civil rights organizers first arrived.
- The war in Vietnam provided a backdrop for racea recent idea created by western Europeans following exploration across the world to account for... More and racismthe use of race to establish and justify a social hierarchy and system of power... More that grew out of a long history of European and U.S. colonialism in Asia. In 1961, the U.S. became involved in the civil war in Vietnam, which had been under French colonial rule. However, by the late 1960s, with hundreds of thousands of troops in Vietnam, anti-war sentiment in the U.S. brought about protests across the country.
- In 1965, Mexican American civil rights activist César Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led California grape-pickers in a strike to demand higher wages. In 1966, Chávez and supporters marched from Delano to the state capital at Sacramento, and called for Americans to boycott grapes in support of farm workers. The strike, which lasted five years, garnered national attention about the plight of the mostly Mexican migrant workers and their exploitation. The effort resulted in the first major labor victory for U.S. migrant workers. In similar movements in South Texas in 1966, United Farm Workers-formerly NFWA-marched to Austin, Texas, in support of melon workers and UFW workers’ rights. In 1969, Chávez and UFW members protested growers’ use of illegal immigrants as strikebreakers by marching through the Imperial and Coachella Valley to the Mexican border. The UFW organized strikes and boycotts in the early 1970s to get higher wages from grape and lettuce growers. Chávez led a boycott in the 1980s to protest toxic pesticide use on grapes. Chávez’ strike and boycott efforts resulted in signed bargaining agreements protecting farm workers.
- In 1965, riots erupted in Watts, a black Los Angeles neighborhood.
- In 1967-68, riots occured in Detroit, Newark and other major cities, some in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis in April 1968.
- In 1968, anti-war protests disrupted the Democratic National Convention in Chicago as opposition to the war in Vietnam grew.
- In 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War, thousands of refugees migrated from southeast Asia to the U.S., in what became the first of several waves of Asian refugees seeking political asylum. Critics have argued that the U.S. immigrationthe act of entering a country of which one is not a native to become... More service began to selectively employ political asylum refugee status in a way that was racially biased.
“The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups…and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways.”
– Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson’s decision allowing the Selma march
John Lewis (on right in trench coat) and Hosea Williams (on the left) led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 7, 1965, protesters began the first of three attempts to march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, the state capital, in support of voting rights. The first time marchers were stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade. Fifty marchers were hospitalized after police used tear gas, whips and clubs against the marchers. Dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” it was only after the third try that the marchers reached Montgomery. The protest was a catalyst for passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later.