The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was a political, legal, and social struggle by black Americans to gain full citizenship rights and to achieve racial equality. The Civil Rights movement was first and foremost a challenge to segregation. During the Civil Rights Movement, individuals and organizations challenged segregation and discrimination with a variety of activities, including protest marches, boycotts, and refusal to abide by segregation laws. Many believed that the movement began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ended with the Voting Rights act of 1965. However, there has been debate about when it began and whether it has ended yet. The Civil Rights Movement has also been called the Black Freedom Movement, the Negro Revolution, and the Second Reconstruction. There were three main tenets to the Civil Rights Movement, the Post Civil War Period, the Educational Period, and the Social Movement.
Following the Civil War, the 13th 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed. The 13th amendment made all blacks citizens of the United States. The 14th amendment granted them equal protection under the law. The 15th amendment gave black citizens the right to vote.
After the outlawing of slavery, a new form of slavery developed in the South called sharecropping. This Debt Peonage tied the sharecropper to the land. By this system a black family farmed the land owned by whites. The blacks were allowed to keep about 10-15% of the profit and the rest went to the landowner. The blacks were kept in debt through their purchases at a General Store owned by the landowner. The blacks purchased things on credit, which kept them in debt. The story To Praise Our Bridges, by Fanny Lou Hamer, depicts the life of sharecroppers. It explains how the sharecroppers were kept in debt, and how they were sabotaged if they started to come out of debt.
Black Codes or Jim Crow laws, were put in place to limit the movement of blacks' rights and to enforce segregation.