Civil Rights and Protests

The Civil Rights Movement

What were the precursors to direct nonviolent protest activities?

In 1941 A. Philip Randolph (1889–1979), civil rights leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (the first major nationwide black union for Pullman porters), threatened to publicly protest the struggle for black equality by staging an all-black March on Washington, D.C. He wanted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to bring an end to discrimination in employment and in the armed services. Roosevelt agreed and established a Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to address these issues, thereby preventing the public protest. A large-scale example of direct-action protest occurred the next year when the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was formed. The interracial group supported the Gandhian philosophy of direct nonviolent protest. The group initiated its 1947 Journey of Reconciliation to test the South’s compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s outlawing of segregation on interstate buses. Further examples of direct-action protest occurred during the war years, when large numbers of black Americans migrated from the rural South to the North and West in search of jobs.


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