Black America Long March for Equality

November 15, 1985

Report Outline
Rights Revolution
Housing and Education
Economic Status
Special Focus

Rights Revolution

Bus Boycott Sparks Civil Rights Cause

Thirty Years Ago, on Dec. 1, 1955, a tired black seamstress refused to give her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., and touched off a period of extraordinary change for black Americans. To protest Rosa Parks' arrest and the city's segregation ordinance, Montgomery's black community boycotted city buses for nearly a year. The non-violent boycott propelled its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence and set the pattern for the civil rights demonstrations that would result in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Those two laws guaranteed blacks access to public accommodations, voting booths and jobs. Other federal laws followed, barring discrimination in housing and offering a whole range of federal programs to put blacks on an equal footing with whites. With these new rights and supports, blacks in large numbers took advantage of educational and job training opportunities and entered the mainstream of American economics and politics. The civil rights movement “is probably the greatest revolution that America has ever seen,” said Ken Johnson, acting president of the Southern Regional Council.

The struggle was not without great cost. King was assassinated in April 1968, leaving the movement without a leader who could draw its many disparate elements together. Frustration and broken expectations left many inner cities in flames during the long hot summers of the late 1960s. And violent opposition to busing in several Northern cities began to pull apart white support for the black movement. Today blacks as a group still are not fully integrated into American life. Racial stereotypes persist. Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan still exist. Civil rights organizers say efforts to keep blacks from moving into white neighborhoods remain common. Strong resistance has stymied school desegregation in many communities.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement
Jul. 22, 2022  Black Hairstyles
Nov. 15, 1985  Black America Long March for Equality
Aug. 12, 1983  Black Political Power
Jan. 18, 1980  Black Leadership Question
Aug. 15, 1973  Black Americans, 1963–1973
Nov. 26, 1969  Racial Discrimination in Craft Unions
Sep. 11, 1968  Black Pride
Feb. 21, 1968  Negro Power Struggle
Mar. 08, 1967  Negroes in the Economy
Jan. 19, 1966  Changing Southern Politics
Oct. 27, 1965  Negroes in the North
Jul. 21, 1965  Negro Revolution: Next Steps
Oct. 14, 1964  Negro Voting
Sep. 21, 1964  Negroes and the Police
Jul. 03, 1963  Right of Access to Public Accommodations
Jan. 23, 1963  Negro Jobs and Education
Mar. 25, 1960  Violence and Non-Violence in Race Relations
Aug. 05, 1959  Negro Employment
Apr. 18, 1956  Racial Issues in National Politics
Apr. 18, 1951  Progress in Race Relations
Dec. 17, 1948  Discrimination in Employment
Jan. 10, 1947  Federal Protection of Civil Liberties
Aug. 25, 1944  The Negro Vote
Jul. 01, 1942  Racial Discrimination and the War Effort
Mar. 25, 1939  Civil and Social Rights of the Negro
Jul. 22, 1927  Disenfranchisement of the Negro in the South
Affirmative Action
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights: African Americans
Domestic Issues
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups
Segregation and Desegregation