The Long Struggle For Rights

The Long Struggle For Rights


“Be the kind of person who not only understands the injustices of this life, but is also willing to do something about them.”

-Father Hesburgh, 1986 Commencement Speech

Theoretically, America was a country where citizens were equal.  In reality, laws in Southern states discriminated against African Americans.  These “Jim Crow Laws” legalized racism and segregation. A fight against Jim Crow emerged in the 1950s causing violence and tensions to rise leading to the president creating a Civil Rights Commission.  ​​​​​​​

Martin Luther King, Jr. Leading a March (

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 (National Archives)


Strom Thurmond (NPR.ORG)

The Act of 1957 had many opponents, including Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina who attempted a 24 hour filibuster to prevent passage of the Civil Rights bill and failed. 

I tell you, the American people, from one side to the other, had better wake up and oppose such a program, and if they don't the next thing will be a totalitarian state in these United States.  There's not enough troops in the army, to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the [African-American] race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches”​​​​​​​
                                    ~ Strom Thurmond

Thurmond showed one example of what the newly formed Commission would be up against. 


Pamphlet on the newly created Civil Rights Commission (Eisenhower Library)