The Second American Revolution

The Struggle for Civil Rights,

and after


The Law:

  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment 15
United States Constitution
Ratified February 2, 1870

Bloody Sunday

    • March 7, 1965, Selma, Alabama


  • A defining moment in a larger movement

Bloody Sunday

  • Selma, Alabama
  • Planned march from Selma to Montgomery, AL (the state capitol)
  • Edmund Pettus Bridge, around 600 marchers turned back by force
  • Batons/Billy Clubs, Tear gas, Mass force
  • Dallas County Sheriff, Jim Clark
  • SNCC chairman, John Lewis, beaten, whipped, tear-gassed by Clark
  • All of this is live, on TV – CBS, NBC, ABC = in your face
  • March is called off, rescheduled
  • National outrage: Bill & Ruth Morris – “We could no longer live our middle-class detached lives.”


Crossing the bridge, barely out of town.




Future Congressman John Lewis being beaten in Selma



King rushing away as John Lewis is beaten down


What do you see?



    • Pres. Johnson (LBJ) is flooded with phone calls and telegrams. Act now.
    • Congress calls on LBJ to intervene in Alabama and pass voting rights law.
    • March 15, LBJ addresses Congress & Nation on voting discrimination.
    • Over 3,000 supporters gather in Selma – 25,000 people will march.
    • Sunday, March 21, the march to Montgomery begins for the third time.
    • Tuesday, March 25, rally on steps of state capitol.
    • August 6, 1965, Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed into law.


  • Key Idea: Popular pressure moved the national government. You have the right to be heard; your voice matters and your vote counts.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the Nation and Congress on March 15th, 1965.

  • “I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy,”
  • “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem,” he continued.
  • “This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections — federal, state, and local — which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote,” Johnson said. “It is wrong — deadly wrong — to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.”

LBJ addresses the Nation

Malcolm X, assassinated February 21, only two weeks before Selma.

The March resumed a week later.
Pride runs deep in the south:
Along the route to Montgomery.

A picture is worth a thousand words. . .

The gestures followed . . . as I like to say, “ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s just ignorance.”

The third march to Montgomery, March 25, 1965
25,000 attended

Arriving in Montgomery, finally.

Skeptics told LBJ that the Democrats had just lost the South for a generation.

Your Rights,

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the most comprehensive Civil rights bill in American history
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965 – ended decades of deliberate disenfranchisement of Black voters
  • Helped set the stage for future movements
  • Key Idea: Popular pressure moved the national government. You have the right to be heard; your voice matters and your vote counts.


  • Civil Rights Act expansion via laws and the Supreme Court.
  • President Johnson signed the Voting Right Act into law less than six months after Selma, on August 6, 1965. Among other things, it outlawed literacy tests and required federal oversight in states that had used them.
  • In the 52 years since the law was passed, there have been a number of challenges to the law. A 2015, New York Times article detailing all of the challenges the law has faced gained so much attention President Obama responded to it.
  • Why? In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, calling it unconstitutional. The section required nine states with histories of voter suppression to get approval from the Justice Department in order to change voting laws.


  • Activists and politicians were outraged by the decision, and have spoken out about other perceived challenges to the Voting Rights Act – including Voter ID laws.
  • Voter ID laws, require voters to have a valid government-issued ID, have become a heated and heavily-debated issue. Many Democrats call them discriminatory and against the Constitution, while Republicans say they are meant to prevent voter fraud.
  • Diverse opinions can lead to decisions in the courts.

In the courts

  • Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas)
  • Linda Brown lived across the street from a whites-only school she could not attend. Lawsuit is filed.
  • Supreme Court heard the case in late ‘52, but SC Chief Justice Fred Vinson died in early 1953. The new Chief Justice is former California governor, Earl Warren (Ike). Warren had the Court hear the case again in Dec. 1953. Warren asked for a unanimous decision. Court ruled 9-0, May 1954
  • Doll baby and “psychological harm”
  • Schools must desegregate – south will ‘drag its feet’
  • Brown II, 1955 added four words – “with all deliberate speed”

Role of the Supreme Court
The Warren Court and Civil Rights:

Selective Incorporation and the 14th Amendment


  •  1. Heart of Atlanta vs. US (1964)

– Congress can make such laws as the Civil Rights Law.

  • 2. Katzenbach v. McClung ’64

– Upheld equal access provisions.

  • 3. South Carolina v. Katzenbach ’66

– Upheld Voting Rights Act.

  • 4. Harper v. Virginia State Board of Education ’66

– Poll tax at all levels (State/local) are illegal.

  • 5. Jones v. AH Mayer ’68

– Upheld the Open Housing Act.

  • 6. Green v. Kent ’68 (County School Board of New Kent County, VA)

– Freedom of choice in education; desegregation must proceed.


“Due Process”
Rights of the accused

  • Many don’t know that your “Miranda Rights” actually took several cases to evolve to what it is today.
  • 7. Mallory v. US ’57

– Right to be arraigned quickly.

  • 8. Gideon v. Wainwright ’63

– Indigents (poor) must be provided counsel.

  • 9. Escobado v. Illinois ’64

– No coercion; right to have lawyer present in statements.

  • 10. Miranda v. Arizona ’66

– Right to remain silent; must have rights read to you.


Selective Incorporation and

  • Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

– Contraception was illegal;

– “Got the government out of the bedroom” Or did it?

  • Roe v. Wade (Jan. 1973)

– Case made abortion legal. Widely accepted at the time but has become much more restrictive over the next four decades.

  • Romer v. Evans (1996)

-The legal case in which the Court on May 20, 1996, voided an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that prohibited laws protecting the rights of homosexuals. It was the first case in which the court declared that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violated constitutionally protected rights. Supreme Court vote was 6-3

Diverse opinions on diversity

  • Lawrence v. Texas (2003) Shut down sodomy laws in 13 states and made same-sex sexual activity legal.
  • “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (US Military) overturned in 2010
  • Defense of Marriage Act (1996) overturned in 2013
  • Vermont Civil Unions (2000)
  • Massachusetts gay marriage (May 17, 2004)
  • Gay Marriage legal, Obergefell v. Hodges (June 2015)
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, the plaintiffs asked “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.“

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent,

  • “Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”
  • Conservatives preferred to leave it a State issue regarding “social policy.”
  • Issues persist.


  • 1. Outline / Handout
  • We are going to examine XYZ
  • Relevance of topic, event, individual
  • 2. Dramatic event, a defining moment, peak of action, change in attitude
  • Intention is to draw in the audience, encourage input, make them wonder
  • 3. Importance of topic (why this matters to you, your life, citizenship, nation)
  • This event led to, or resulted in . . .
  • 4. How we got there
  • Flesh out the particulars surrounding the event, person, thought . . .
  • Establish a framework upon which we hang our historical facts
  • Offer additional sources for examination
  • 5. Conclusion
  • Repeat the relevance of the topic and encourage students to ask questions
  • Ask precise questions to encourage critical thinking: What if . . .?
  • Play “devils advocate” where necessary to present opposing viewpoints
  • Writing exercise: quiz, take-home work, examination
  • Learning outcomes and assessment measured