The challenges that the Civil Rights Movement faced during 1964-1970 were poverty and frustration at the slow pace of change. A split in the movement occurred in 1965. Different groups and individuals attempted to deal with these challenges in different ways.
A split in the movement began with the Selma Voting Campaign. A protest march was planned but this was forbidden by the federal government. Martin Luther King went ahead with the march anyway but when they were confronted by troops, they turned back. Sadly this caused a split in the movement with King’s followers wanting more conservative methods and radical Blacks wanting faster change. This is where Black Power was formed because they had thought the Government had forgotten about blacks. As well, racism was still very strong in the South and a lot of Blacks had few opportunities and were poverty stricken. Black Power wanted faster change.
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There was a lot of Black frustration in the cities because of slow change. Riots broke out in the summers of 1964-1967 in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Blacks were frustrated about their living conditions, schooling, very bad health care, a lot of crime and unemployment. Blacks were feeling let down by the federal government who seemed not to be supporting them anymore. There was distrust in white liberals as blacks didn’t feel they were fully committed to the cause of black civil rights. Especially bad riots broke out in the Watts district of Los Angeles. 36 people died, $40 million worth of property was looted, burned or destroyed. 1,000 Police and 13,000 troops had to be called in to stop these riots.
Martin Luther King tried to deal with these problems through the Chicago Housing Campaign. King and his family moved into the slum apartments. They encouraged blacks not to pay rent until the plumbing and heating was fixed. A rally of 45,000 people was held at the Chicago’s Soldiers Field Stadium to ask for mixed schools, better jobs and integrated housing. One day after this rally chaos broke out, with rioting and looting going on for 3 days and 2 nights. This was a major set back to the civil rights movement. This campaign was partly successful because a lot of blacks came to hope for better lives but the government made no promises to improve housing and schools and so few changes were made in the ghettos.
Two different organizations tried to meet Blacks demands for faster, and not necessarily peaceful, change. Black Power, led by Stokely Carmichael, consisted of old SNCC members. They encouraged blacks to help themselves and each other. They wanted control of black schools and facilities. They would use violence if necessary and didn’t want white help.
The second radical black movement was called the Black Muslims. They believed they were superior to whites, that whites were evil and that Blacks would eventually rule the world They were a challenge to the Civil Rights movement because they gave blacks a bad name. Malcolm X was a leader of the Black Muslims and he believed that his group should live a different way of life. He was a brilliant speaker and gained many followers. He converted to the Islamic faith while he was in prison. The Black Muslims worked to help people such as drunks and criminals. No smoking, drinking and womanizing was allowed. Also no Blacks were allowed to associate with whites. Whites were seen as demons. This is where Black Pride developed. Blacks took more of an interest in their history and culture. This new attitude saw the emergence of black drama, literature and poetry. More Blacks were attending university. They refused to be called "Nigger" or "colored" and they were proud to be black.
King tried a new policy to win back the Black support he had lost. This was called his Broadening Policy. This policy was made to appeal to a wide range of people not just Blacks. King asked the government why they spent money on the Vietnam War when there were people in their own country who couldn’t afford necessary items. He also mentioned that it was unfair to draft non-university goers into the army because a lot of those people were blacks whose education was not up to a high enough standard to attend university. This upset the federal government and he lost the support of President Johnson. The Poor Peoples Campaign was also part of the Broadening Policy. King met with leaders of other ethnic cultures such as Indians and Mexicans. A camp-in was organized in Washington where people would live in tents and each day they would send delegations to the Government to ask for better jobs, but King was assassinated before this was able to happen.
The Civil Rights Movement did face a lot of challenges during this period of time. They did not always succeed but they did their best to keep persevering for black equality. Individuals tried to deal with these challenges as well. It was a hard time for the USA especially with the split in the movement and some blacks against each other but they all kept striving for the best they could possibly achieve.
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