The rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality

The civil rights movement first came to being in the early 1950s, in the form of the 1954 Topeka Court Case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal. However this case only referred to only four states and the District of Columbia. A year later the Supreme Court called on all schools to plan for integration. By the 1960s the main aim of the Civil Rights movement was to get the civil rights bill passed. The bill would give the federal government the power to enforce de-segregation of all public accommodation and outlawed discrimination in publicly owned facilities as well as in employment.

There were three main factors, which contributed to getting the civil rights legislation passed in congress. The first was the march in Washington. This march was organised due to the reaction of the shooting of NAACP member, Medgar Evers outside his home. The march occurred in August of 1963. Over 200, 000 people took part in the march. One of the most famous civil right advocates, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in front of the Lincoln Memorial Dr. King gave his well known speech, entitled ‘I Have a Dream’. The massive media attention to this event had a strong affect on public opinion, especially those who felt treatment towards with the blacks was unfair and unjust. The second factor was due to the assassination of JFK and the wave of sympathy that was felt after his death. The final factor was Lyndon Johnson. Johnson was aware of the value of the black vote in the upcoming election. His personal influence in Congress was very effective in getting the bill passed. This had a great effect on the nation and although not immediate it gave most blacks a better standard of life.

Chosen Case Study-

For my case study I have chosen the 2001 Cincinnati Riots. From the10-12 of April 2001 the city of Cincinnati, Ohio experienced the worst rioting in the United States since the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. The riots were a reaction to the shooting of a 19-year-old black man, Timothy Thomas, by a white police officer at 02.20 on the 7th of April 2001.

Between Feb 1995 and April 2001, fifteen black men under the age of 40 were killed by police whilst police killed no other men from any other race. Of the cited fifteen black men three (including Thomas) had not used deadly weapons against the police. Despite all the situations that lead to the deaths of the men, no police were ever found guilty through any civil or criminal trials.

On the 9th of April 2001 around 200 black Cincinnati residents, including Thomas’s mother entered the City Council Chambers. The group had interrupted a council meeting demanding details of the incident and the immediate accountability for the death of Thomas. The crowd had carried signs which bore words such as “Stop killing us or else”.

The riots began in at night when a group was peacefully protesting in police presence outside of City Hall. The police dispersed the group. The group then moved into the CBD where they started to riot. There was violence against whites and non-blacks that were in the area at the time. Businesses were looted; shops damaged and small fires were set. The crowd consisted mostly of young blacks.

The news of rioting quickly spread and simultaneous riots broke out over the poorer black suburbs.

The violence on the second day was widespread, the violence seemed to be in areas with high concentrations of blacks. Even though there were some black community leaders such as church congregation leaders and non-business organisation leaders before night fall they were unable to stop the crowd from becoming violent. After the riots had ended the Mayor of Cincinnati put a curfew on the city and the rioting ended.

Assess Importance of Case Study in Relation to the Achievements of the Civil Rights Movement-

This is event is quite important in relation to the civil rights movement as it shows that there are still quite large disparities between blacks and whites. With many blacks feeling they have been treated unfairly in the past and are still being treated unfairly in the present day, despite the fact that equality is enshrined in the Constitution. It seems as if many disadvantaged Afro-Americans feel cheated and/or that they are the targets of white abuse whether on the streets by civilians or by the government that is there to protect them and their rights.

Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has given African-Americans the same rights as those of whites, many that live in disadvantaged areas feel that the government ‘out to get them’ or perpetuate their suffering, as was the case in Cincinnati. The blacks may feel like they’re being victimised by corrupt police officers just as their parents and grand-parents were in the 1950s and 60s, although they may still hold ill feelings towards the government and police force even though it is completely un-necessary. There were also throw backs to the 1960s with the blacks peacefully protesting outside of City Hall and just like the 1960s the police dispersed them. Reported in the Cincinnati Post was the case of Bomani Tyhimba he had filed a lawsuit against the City for holding him longer than needed for two traffic violations. This report was in March, a month before the riots.

Issues That Need to be Addressed-

Many issues need to be addressed regarding the disadvantaged blacks and their communities. The ones who were the largest groups in the mobs were the young black males. This is either because they felt that the government was not doing enough to enforce the civil rights act and keep them safe from discrimination or that the civil rights act was not enough. There is still quite an un-easy tension between blacks and whites in the US. These should be addressed instead of being ignored and swept under the rug by the government.