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The Civil Rights Movement

In the southern states, there used to be a set of laws called Jim Crow Laws. Many of these laws required black and white people to be separated in public places. There were separate schools, separate drinking fountains, and separate waiting rooms! The phrase "separate but equal" is used to describe these laws. However, white people were often provided better schools and facilities than black people. This wasn't equal!

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court made an important decision. In a case known as Brown vs. Board of Education, it was decided that separating blacks and whites into different schools was unconstitutional, or unfair. A law was passed saying that all public schools must accept black and white students.

The Civil Rights Movement began on December 1, 1955, when a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. At that time, blacks and whites were segregated, or separated, from one another. Black people were not allowed to sit in the front of the bus, but Rosa Parks stood up for herself and said this wasn't fair! Many people agreed with her, and the Civil Rights Movement started. People began to demand equality, asking that everyone be treated the same no matter what their skin color is. Because of Rosa Park's courage, she is thought of as the "mother of civil rights."

 A lot of protesting went on during the Civil Rights Movement.

Many people chose to have "sit ins." A sit in happens when a group of people refuse to move. They may choose to meet in a library or restaurant and stay there for a very long time!

In 1957, a group of nine students called the Little Rock Nine were the first black students at a high school in Arkansas. They were treated very badly by a lot of people who didn't want them to attend this school. However, they were very courageous and gave hope to a lot of other people.

In 1963, there was a March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom. This was the biggest protest at the United States capital ever! During this event, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Many people were inspired and hopeful about the future.

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest person ever to earn this honor!

In 1965, three marches were held from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The people marching were asking for voting rights and equality. Some police officers harmed the protestors. Videos were shown all over the country. Many more people began to stand up for civil rights.

All of these events helped make life more equal for Americans. By standing up for what they believed in, many protestors helped change people's minds about civil rights.