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What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement After 1965? Don’t Ask Your Textbook


What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement After 1965? Don’t Ask Your Textbook

Adam Sanchez

Fifty years ago this week, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairperson Stokely Carmichael made the famous call for “Black Power.” Carmichael’s speech came in the midst of the “March Against Fear,” a walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, to encourage African Americans to use their newly won right to vote. But while almost every middle and high school student learns about the Civil Rights Movement, they rarely learn about this march—or the related struggles that continued long after the Voting Rights Act.


Nixon’s Southern strategy comes to mind…


Thank you for pointing out that the text books are inept and are that way for a reason. This time in history touches me deeply as I was part of the movement for civil rights and voting rights.
After the Civil Rights Act was signed a group of young people that I was involved in went to Atlanta and worked in black neighborhoods to push integration and voting. We went to restaurants and other public places in integrated groups to test the law. Needless to say we were not received well and our lives were threatened everyday. Complete with burning crosses on the lawn and threatening phone calls, police visits, and so on.
The following year the riots broke out and cities were on fire. I was in Chicago when tanks rolled down the residential streets and the curfew was shoot to kill for anyone outside after six in the evening.
This time in history is usually passed off as violent and offensive but we fought then for the same things Bernie and supporters are fighting for now.
We tuned in and dropped out of the society we viewed as corrupt and bigoted. It hasn’t changed much in that regard. When things died down it was never mentioned much after that and I can see why this author takes exception to the lousy textbooks we now have that teach our children to fall in line, don’t make waves and for Gods sake don’t think critically.
The reality is horrifying when you see from then and now things have gotten worse in many ways. We have lost rights, many, and lost factual education and elections. We even have internet censors that redirect your search to Hillary speeches. We are being attacked in ever more threatening ways. This election is one for the books. The fraud has been so blatant.
If we don’t stand up right now we are going to be the center piece country for full corporate control. Didn’t see that coming back then.
Bernie has offered a revolution through politics and change from within. If that doesn’t work my greatest fear is that the revolution will be in the streets and uncontrollable. I fear for my grandchildren. The sixties were volatile times and it’s coming around again.


What happened? They have voted for Clinton and handed her the nomination…


In large part, what we are witnessing now, living through, is the continuation of the Civil Rights movement. “A more perfect union” implies a struggle towards perfection which undoubtedly means the expansion of economic/civil rights and freedoms.

The failure of the billion dollar textbook industry to adequately teach about social movements is certainly by design. The nation now struggles with the loss of ground We the People won during the sixties, along with the surveillance state and neoliberal/conservative policies. Mr. Sanders has effectively provided the vision and the motivation for folks to take action on their own behalf, but far too many people know far too little about how social movements work, win, and fail.

King was making his move against corporatism/capitalism when he was murdered. In just about every way, Sanders has called on us to pick up the struggle at the point textbooks recognize as the Civil Rights movement’s last act.


Thanks for writing this. Are you aware of my book POWER, POLITICS, AND THE DECLINE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: A FRAGILE COALITION, 1967-1973? It covers much of what you notice is missing in most textbooks.


In the rural Mississippi Delta, county-wide organizations formed by SNCC, CORE and SCLC banded together, under the leadership of Fannie Lou Hamer, Unita Blackwell and others to form Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE), a community development corporation which worked to build on the success of the civil rights movement and expand social, political and economic power for African Americans in the Delta. This is a major untold story, an organization now 50 years old, still at work in the MS Delta.


Indeed! I was present at the Watts riot. I marched for civil rights in Texas and Wash DC. I have never thought the “civil rights movement” was a thing of the past. I see discrimination go on every day. Maybe another 100 years but I’m not that confident.


I will try to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the tip.


The struggle continues. This article opens the door, but refuses to pass through the media Jeddi mind trick on political assassination. The article gets hung up on “black power,” with which King, as glossed-over as is his common historical perception may be, did actually have to confront. However, the important point is that King had the power to hold a coalition together, and the civil rights movement, even and especially after the VRA, when intersecting with the anti-war movement, was proving enough critical mass that at least one wing of the political establishment was starting to listen and adapt. The political assassinations of King and Kennedy in 1968 ended that, which is not to ignore Malcolm X. The lesson that these political assassinations were a necessary condition, or an historical precursor, that enable Nixon’s Southern Strategy to succeed is completely missing. The conspiratorial forethought and sociopolitical strategy behind them has been aired out in court, particularly in Judge Joe Brown’s Memphis courtroom, where the King family won their case.

It is also extremely interesting that despite King himself speaking about Southern anti-race-extremism and the countering use of propaganda to instigate hostilities during the last half of the 1800s, this article cites prior scholarly work that frames the civil rights movement as dating back to the 1930s. King might have asked, “What happened to the Civil Rights Movement before the 1930s?” C. Vann Woodward’s historical analysis, “The Strange Career of Jim Crow,” should be required reading.