The Civil Rights Movement began to develop in the mid-20th century when an increasing number of African American communities around the country began to make a strong push against Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Movement was characterized by the ability of communities to organize and develop strategies to effectively advocate for civil rights. The increase in unity among communities allowed for the formation of several organizations that lobbied for civil rights. Although organizations often differed in terms of ideology and strategy, many still contributed to the broader success of the movement. The following are examples of civil rights organizations that used different tactics to advocate for social change nationally.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – Founded in 1909, the NAACP became heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement by challenging Jim Crow laws through the legal system. The method of challenging Jim Crow through the courts was a long process, but ultimately the NAACP was able to obtain key victories such as in Brown v. Board of Education which desegregated schools. For more information see NAACP.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC):Originating from a series of meetings held by Ella Baker at Shaw University in 1960, SNCC became a civil rights organization that made a lot impact across the country. Through utilizing nonviolent tactics such as sit-ins and freedom rides, SNCC became a leading civil rights organization in many cities in the south. For more information, see SNCC.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC): Established by Martin Luther King Jr., the SCLC was founded as a leadership organization for ministers during the Civil Rights Movement. Through establishing citizen schools, the SCLC focused on training community members to pass literacy tests to increase political power. The SCLC also led the push for community organization and protests, most notably the March on Washington in 1963. For more information, see SCLC.
Black Panther Party: In an effort to protect African Americans from police brutality, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale created the Black Panther Party in 1966. The Black Panthers quickly rose to noteriety as their militant strategies and their participation in the Black Power Movement was appealing to many people that wanted to literally fight back against Jim Crow. Since their strategies were much more militant and confrontational than other civil rights organizations, the Black Panther Party conveyed a more direct way to advocate for social change. For more information, see Black Panther Party.
The one common theme throughout the Civil Rights Movement is community organization. Regardless of methodology, communities were successful in obtaining change when members of those communities were able to effectively organize, strategize and develop plans for action.
The Movement in Fort Worth
In the case of the movement in Fort Worth, it seems apparent that there were pockets of community organization, but the organization did not always lead to cohesive, group-oriented action. In the subsequent pages it is shown that the movement in Fort Worth became rather fragmented and spread out between various members of the community who likely operated under different ideologies. The fragmented nature of the movement in Fort Worth did not mean that it was ineffective, but communities did not organize in the same manner as communities in other cities such as Montgomery, Alabama.