American Literature: Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement's main goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans, and to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights listed in the Constitution. Learn more about the brave men and women who led the cause in this video. 

CoursesAmerican Literature
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature

Transcript

00:54

movement....well after the Civil War ended in 1865 there was a period in the South

01:00

known as reconstruction a roughly decade-long period of rebuilding that

01:05

was directed by the federal government unfortunately I wasn't able to see this [Woman putting make-up on]

01:10

happen because well you know the play was good basically the southern United

01:15

States was left in shambles after the Civil War because the North won the

01:20

conflict and they must've had one amazing leader and federal government

01:25

took control of the situation they encouraged northerners to move south [Northerners moved to south of the US]

01:29

to help the rebuilding process. They only use military force to protect the

01:33

rights of African American they fought off a growing wave of white supremacist

01:38

groups like the Ku Klux Klan by the 1870s however southern Democratic

01:43

politicians had successfully reasserted control of the south with their newfound [Democratic politican plants a flag]

01:48

power these white politicians created a new set of laws to disenfranchise

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African American citizens those racist regulations were known as Jim Crow laws

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named after an equally racist fictional character Jim Crow who'd been around

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since the 1820s - These laws severely limited the freedoms of the souths new

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African American citizens; enforcing segregation in schooling business and

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housing..banning interracial relationships and making it nearly [Man shouting and white woman and black man]

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impossible for African Americans to vote well these voter suppression efforts

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took many different forms some states forced voters to pay poll taxes to block [People paying voter fees]

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the poor from voting like literally you had to pay money to vote other states

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made voters prove they could read before they got a ballot....

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In both instances it's quite clear that these laws were meant to prevent

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african-americans from voting especially because some states straight up

02:45

made exceptions to the laws that allowed white Americans to vote... well this

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nonsense went on for almost 100 years but then at the beginning of the 1950's

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something changed and the civil rights movement began - The civil rights

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movement was a huge social movement that destroyed those awful Jim Crow laws and [Civil Rights movement on TV]

03:03

changed the American society forever there's no one event that kicked off the

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movement but there are a few we can identify as being particularly important

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well the first is Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court legal case in [The US Supreme Court building]

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1954 african-american students in Kansas got sick and tired of being forced into

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segregated and underfunded schools and decided to sue the local Board of

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Education in favor of school integration and they won, well it took going to the [African-American student in court]

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Supreme Court to get there but they did it well segregation was to be phased out

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slowly over time and while some southern states accepted this change without fuss

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others pitched the bigger fit than a superfan who was too late to buy Justin [Girl superfan throwing tantrum with Justin Bieber]

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Bieber tickets.....

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well the other major event that kicked off the civil rights movement was the

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Montgomery bus boycott, in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 an African American

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woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white [Rosa Parks arrested]

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man but she was sitting there he walked up he said move and she said no that

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seat giving up ting was actually required by the state strict Jim Crow

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laws stating that African Americans had to sit in the back of the bus we're not

04:19

making this up people this actually happened well Parks protests was met with a huge

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wave of support basically a pre-internet flash mob of glorious nonviolent

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resistance unsatisfied with the city's response, the protestors kept it up for [People protesting for Rosa Parks]

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almost a year when a federal court ordered the city's buses to become

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desegregated it took them a year to do this the Montgomery bus boycott also

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launched a certain creature into national prominence a young man by the [Bus launching into the air and Martin Luther King appears]

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name of the Martin Luther King Jr despite these early victories the

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battle for civil rights had just begun well in 1957 in Little Rock Arkansas for

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example the governor Orval Faubus...

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ordered the National Guard to prevent African Americans from going to high

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school kids trying to go to schools and adults trying to stop them that's when [Kid studying at home and man appears]

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you know things have turned upside-down in this crazy world, well a similar event

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occurred in 1963 when Alabama Governor George Wallace literally put his own

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body between black students and the University of Alabama to prevent them

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from attending.. it was only 65-70 years ago people....

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As the 50s gave way to the 60s the civil rights movement only grew [Civil Rights getting heavier on a scale]

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more intense in the late 50s student activists started having sit-ins at

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segregated businesses well during a sit-in black protestors would just sit

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down in whites only establishment essentially forcing the owners to choose

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between willingly integrating their business or using the violence thing to [Arrow pointing to integration and violence]

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keep things the way they were sadly most businesses took the latter approach

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inflicting heart-wrenching violence upon peaceful protesters keep in mind we're

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not talking ancient history this is 50 years ago like your parents know about

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it go ask him they were there yeah and they're one of the many people who are

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still alive today who endured and somehow accepted this horrendous

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violence which really puts into perspective how the issues fought for

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during the civil rights movement remained really relevant today... Well in 1961 a

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group known as the Freedom Riders entered the scene - The Freedom Riders

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were an interracial group that defied segregation laws by sitting next to each

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other on Interstate buses intentionally breaking the law to highlight this [Interracial group of people sitting on a bus]

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injustice as with the sit-ins these bold acts were met with horrendous violence

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several buses were even bombed and this is not like Isis bombing people these

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were like you know Americans bombing [American man throws bomb and African-American man]

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Anyway Freedom Riders were also attacked by mobs in Birmingham

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Montgomery and countless other southern cities and three civil rights activists

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Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered in

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Mississippi in 1964 there's a movie you can see about that....

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well on the bright side Martin Luther King Jr. led the march on Washington for [Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech]

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Jobs and Freedom that same year a massive gathering of roughly 250,000

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people it was here that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous I have a dream

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speech which called for racial unity and dreamt of a future where everyone could [MLK speaking on stage]

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live side-by-side in peace it's one of the best speeches ever so if you haven't

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read it we're just telling you you should...The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was

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the first major piece of legislation passed after the March, the law banned

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any sort of discrimination based on race or ethnicity and ended segregation once

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and for all well a year later MLK Jr led a group of

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activists on a march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama to advocate for [People marching for voting rights]

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voting rights as usual the backlash was violent and barbaric earning the moniker

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Bloody Sunday for well obvious reasons fortunately this helped speed the passage

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of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which protected African American voting rights

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in the south, struck down poll taxes and it eliminated literacy tests well then [Federal Agent tears down poll taxes and literacy tests]

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in 1968 Martin Luther King jr. was assassinated, sparking riots and protests

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across the country this tragedy forced Congress to rush through their final bit

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of legislation in the Civil Rights era the Civil Rights Act of 1968, well this

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law built on many of the ideas established in the Civil Rights Act of

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1964 banning discrimination in the housing market and making it a federal [African-American couple approach a house for sale]

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crime to threaten or attack a person based on their race or ethnicity before

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we go on we have to talk more about MLK jr. born in 1929 King was the son of a

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preacher man making him destined like Luke Skywalker to pick up where his dad [MLK hanging off the edge of a platform and MLK's father as Darth Vader appears]

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left off....

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While in school Kings stumbled across some books by a fellow named [MLK falls over books]

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Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi famous death metal guitarist....

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Gandhi famous Indian

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political leader pioneered the field of non-violent resistance..that is the use of non-violent protests

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to cause political change...Used these techniques to free India from British colonial rule in 1930's...

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well nonviolent resistance can take the form of traditional protests, boycotts and

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marches as long as it doesn't leave a bruise it'll probably work here...[People protesting]

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Gandhi's philosophy had a huge impact on King and would shape his tactics

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throughout the civil rights movement not everyone was as in love with turning the

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other cheek however most prominent among this group was Malcolm X a key leader in

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a small religious sect known as the Nation of Islam, while many of the

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nation's beliefs are derived from mainstream Islam it's considered a

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distinct religion with its own beliefs like that Africans are the original [Arrows point to African people]

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people of mankind that the races should be separated and that white people were

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created by a mad scientist named Yakob [Yakob in the lab with a white man in a tube]

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unlike King, Malcolm wasn't dreaming of white and black children

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playing together in the schoolyard but he dreamed of more segregation on the

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basis that it would allow african-americans to determine their own

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future he also supported African Americans using self-defense in the face [Malcolm X giving guns to African-Americans]

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of racially based violence a view shared by the other groups like the Black

10:49

Panther Party a militant civil rights organization founded in 1966 and nobody

10:55

asked them whole thing with an eye for an eye leaves the whole

10:59

world blind and toothless ....Well Malcolm would

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eventually break with the Nation of Islam in 1964 and convert to Sunni Islam [Malcolm stands with Sunni Islam]

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the most popular branch of Islam later that year

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well this shift softened Malcolm slightly while he still wasn't pulling a

11:15

Gandhi, a'la Martin Luther King jr. he was

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open to the integration of the races and willing to express mild support for the [Malcolm takes down segregation sign]

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civil rights movement sadly this new phase in Malcolm X's life was cut short

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when he was assassinated in 1965 just three years before MLK would meet the

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same fate but the approaches of Malcolm X and

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Martin Luther King jr. were as different as different can be..just goes to show you

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how diverse civil rights movements can be well we see further evidence of

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this diversity in Bayard Rustin another prominent leader in the movement well

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Rustin wore a lot of different hats in his lifetime kind of like a Dr. Seuss [Rustin wearing lots of hats]

11:54

character he was a nightclub singer in Harlem New York, a die-hard member of the

11:58

Communist Party of America and an all-purpose political activist well by

12:04

the late 1940s Rustin was a pioneering leader in the civil rights movement

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focusing particularly on techniques of nonviolent resistance, that's the time

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nonviolent resistance was a relatively new technique of social change and the

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grand scheme of things as any attempt at nonviolent protest in the 17 or 1800's

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would have ended with your head removed from your body most likely [Man taken to a guilotine]

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little known fact; Rustin was the one who helped King develop his nonviolent

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resistance tactics ahead of the Montgomery bus boycott which means that

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Rustin's fingerprints are all over one of the most important events in American [Rustin's fingerprints all over a bus]

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history...Rustin and King would continue working together over the decade and

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Rustin would become the chief organizer of the 1963 march on Washington though

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he received little credit for it at the time see many within the civil rights

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movement were skeptical of Rustin because he was openly gay which was so

12:56

unheard of at that point in time that well he may as well have been a purple

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unicorn although Rustin was out during the 60s [Rustin appears with a unicorn horn and purple unicorn appears beside him]

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he didn't begin openly advocating for gay rights until the 80s when he made it

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the focal point of his career.....Though he's

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often forgotten Rustin is a crucial figure in the civil rights movement

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without him MLK might never have perfected his technique of nonviolent

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protest but don't think that just because King was advocating non-violence

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that he wasn't willing to get his hands dirty... In 1963

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King led a campaign to promote integration in Birmingham Birmingham, Alabama city]

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Alabama one of the most segregated cities in the country well their efforts

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included boycotts of local segregated stores, sit-ins at public restaurants and

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marches across the city well it was during one of these marches on Good

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Friday the Friday before Easter as it happens, the King was arrested for his [MLK arrested]

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part in the day's protests while in prison King wrote a letter that would

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end up being a lot more significant than your average email or text message [MLK writing a letter in jail]

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letter from Birmingham jail as it would come to be known was written in response

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to an editorial published by a group of local white church leaders these prominent

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priests and preachers painted King as an outsider looking to stir up trouble in

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Birmingham argued that he didn't give the local government enough time to

14:16

respond to his demands and described his protest tactics with a generous serving

14:21

of tea and shade...Well, not to keep score but King dunks on his haters immediately [MLK slam dunking a basketball]

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King starts by quoting some scripture just to prove he can get as biblical as

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the rest of them he compares himself to St. Paul one of the most important early

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leaders of the church likening his struggle for civil rights to the

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struggles of the early church...King then eviscerates the argument that he's an

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outsider in Birmingham saying that all the same issues affecting Birmingham

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afflict his home of Atlanta and countless other communities across

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America plus it's his freakin country Georgia and Alabama border each other [Georgia and Alabama on a map]

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with this Smackdown begun King starts describing his approach to nonviolent

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political resistance it's an easy four-step process [Lincoln discussing 4 step process]

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First; collect facts that determine whether or not injustice exists with

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this step King would visit a city to investigate the state of race relations

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there and connect with local residents to find out their personal stories if

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things were looking bad as they usually were he'd move on to step two [MLK discussing personal stories with a woman]

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negotiation well before kicking off the protests King directly approaches local

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leaders and business people to see if they can resolve the issue without

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conflict this step rarely ended in success.. As was the case with Birmingham local

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leaders wouldn't give King the time of day

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which means that it's time for step three self purification and no it's not

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some weird mystical ritual from Game of Thrones with a dragon... instead self [Game of Thrones characters and Dragon appear]

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purification is Kings spiritually charged way of saying preparation

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well preparation takes many forms like activists workshops that teach everyday

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people how to implement nonviolent political action group sessions that

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prepare protesters for the violence they're likely to face and maybe one or [Woman sprays man with firehose]

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two trips to Dave & Buster's if only for a morale boost because who doesn't like

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that... what's step four? direct action - direct

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action is an umbrella term for the nonviolent political action and the term

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includes strikes, boycotts, public demonstrations and marches sound

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familiar yeah they're the exact same tactics King employs throughout this [People protesting in the street]

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whole civil rights movement look King would love it if he could achieve his

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goals on step two and call it a day sure would be a whole lot less stressful but

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that rarely happens if ever forcing King to employ the often messy tactic of

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direct action...well having explained his tactics King takes on the [Person moves King piece in chessboard]

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clergyman's point beat by beat, why didn't he give local government more

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time to act before protesting? well Kings been through this rodeo before the

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people in charge never give up power without pressure why did he use direct

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action to cause chaos which might lead to violence....why does the

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hypothetical violence caused by protests outweigh the real violence faced by

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African Americans on a daily basis... King also makes a distinction between

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just and unjust laws...just laws as their name implies are just ie fair... They're like

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there's no need to debate whether murder is a bad thing or whether theft is [Person holding knife up to a woman]

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something to be a frowned upon but mixed up with all these valid laws are a bunch

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of invalid ones like those that enforced segregation and those that limit the

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civil rights of African Americans invoking a pre-internet version of

17:40

Godwin's law which states that every debate eventually features at least one

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reference to Hitler.. King makes the point that every terrible thing that Hitler [Hitler's army marching]

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did during World War two was completely legal

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even though he perpetrated some of the most horrendous crimes against humanity

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ever well King uses this argument to support the

18:00

idea that laws can be unjust and conversely that some illegal things like

18:05

protesting and equal rights are actually good it's important to note however that [Woman driving a car]

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even though King comes down hard on his fellow clergyman's arguments his final

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message is a unifying one.. King stresses his respect for his foes as men of God

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despite his personal disappointment with their churches and he states that he

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hopes to meet them someday not as civil rights leaders but as a fellow clergyman

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and Christian brother don't underestimate the brilliance of Kings [MLK writing a letter]

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writing here he somehow manages to both destroy their arguments and leave them

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with an uplifting brotherly message which is the writing equivalent to you [MLK writing a letter and fire begins to spread]

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know being a Jedi Master... Another important piece of civil rights writing

18:43

is Anne Moody's coming-of-age in Mississippi born in 1940 Moody is raised

18:48

in a poor farming family in surprise-surprise Mississippi the book a

18:53

memoir follows Moody from her childhood days performing odd job to making ends

18:58

meet to her college years that took elude college to her eventual joining of [Moody at college and joins a protest]

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the civil rights movement the 1950's in this way Moody's book serves

19:06

as a great document of the development of the civil rights movement after all

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Moody is inspired to join the movement after the brutal murder of

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14 year-old Emmett Till in 1955 an african-american kid from Mississippi

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who was accused of the unforgivable crime of flirting with a white woman [Young boy flirting with woman in supermarket and chased by angry mob]

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Moody also learns about the NAACP that's the National

19:29

Association for the Advancement of Colored People - A famous civil rights

19:34

organization Moody did it all, she took part in sit-ins at diners in Jackson

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Mississippi and even rubbed elbows with Medgar Evers a legendary Mississippi [Moody rubs elbows with Medgar]

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based civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1963 by members of a white

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supremacist organization while the novel even ends with perhaps the most iconic

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civil rights movement of all the march on Washington we don't get to see the

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event itself but the novel closes out with Moody on a bus with her fellow

20:00

activists heading to the capital city wondering if they will finally reach [Bus travelling to Washington]

20:04

their goal of racial equality this abrupt ending is actually quite fitting

20:09

after all though the civil rights movement achieved some incredible social

20:13

change, there's still plenty of work left to do still plenty of racially

20:16

based laws to overturn and plenty of hearts and minds that still need to be

20:21

won over to the side of equality although the civil rights movement might [Lincoln statue talking about civil rights movement]

20:25

not yet be over this lesson sure is and what did we learn well we learned that

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the civil rights movement was started in large part due to so-called Jim Crow

20:32

laws racist regulations concentrated in the southern United States...Martin Luther

20:37

King jr. is one of the first leaders we think of when we talk about the civil

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rights movement and for good reason his nonviolent tactics were some of the most [MLK Jr giving speeches for civil rights movement]

20:45

effective drivers of social change nowhere is this more evident than in

20:50

Kings letter from Birmingham jail which explains his philosophy on activism and

20:54

equal rights in full detail but of course he wasn't the only civil rights

20:57

leader with his own unique perspective there was also Malcolm X who took a more

21:02

militant approach to civil rights than MLK and finally we can see Anne Moody's

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memoir coming-of-age in Mississippi as an amazing historical document of the

21:10

movement it gives us a first-hand view of some of the most pivotal events of [Person raises hand]

21:14

the era while there's still plenty more to learn about of the civil rights

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movement this lesson should give you a great foundation to build on...One piece

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of advice before you go if your boo ever wants to go out on the town to celebrate

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a big event just stay home and watch Netflix instead...[Lincoln statue giving advice and scratches his butt]