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Introduction to Florida History - Essay Example

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Introduction to Florida History.
Civil rights movements climaxed in 1960s and dominated the social and political arena in Florida. Racial disorder had gained momentum, in attempts to end racial segregation and achieve black rights…
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Download file to see previous pages Martin Luther King, under Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) commenced an immense campaign to lend support to local civil rights movements. The objective of Dr. King was twofold: that in addition to ending local desegregation, the media attention given to the city would gather support nationally for the 1964 Civil Rights Act which had then stalled in congress. What happened is that, in 1963, under the leadership of Robert Hayling an advisor to the city’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP) started the campaign to pressure to end segregation in St. Augustine. They organized demonstrations; sit-ins and pickets against segregated businesses. Perfect opportunity to air their grievance was presented in 1963 as the city was preparing its 400th year anniversary. Municipal officials intended to showcase only “acceptable” history, of which segregation was deeply inculcated. City leaders left blacks from the celebration preparations, jolting the local NAACP chapter to write to President Lyndon Johnson asking him to cancel his planned visit because no blacks were involved, and the city leadership had refused to form a biracial committee. As a result, White supremacists led by Ku Klux Klan (KKK) responded with violence against them. The major confrontation resulted from Haylings opposition to the federal funding to the city’s celebration. The white supremacists were angered, and violence resulted. Gunshots were fired at Dr. Haylings’ home, with armed white ruffians shooting at black neighborhood, which led to the death of one of the armed whites and charge of four blacks for the murder. There was an escalation of the racial disharmony that culminated the arrest and indictment of Haylings by a grand jury which blamed him and other activists for the racial crisis that was being witnessed then. As a result, SCLC decided to conduct seminars to give a workshop on non-violent protest. As all this was happening in 1963-1964, national media attention had been turned on St. Augustine. This media attention made old city more vulnerable to racial crisis as both the civil rights and white supremacists turned their guns there. Dr. King personally took charge of the demonstrations in May 1964, arriving together with his assistant Rev. Ralph Abernathy and other civil rights leaders. Their arrival gave momentum to the civil right movement and exploited the media attention that was directed at the city. St. Augustine was turned into a racial battleground. SCLC sent nationwide calls for volunteers to join in the protest. SCLC demonstrations infuriated the whites after they interrupted the lucrative tourist businesses, and, therefore, the scale of violence and unrest increased. These scenes were being televised to a shocked nation. SCLC leadership rejected calls by a grand jury to leave the city, on grounds that SCLC had disrupted the racial harmony. However, they agreed to leave after Florida Governor C. Farris Bryan, had promised to form the biracial committee in 30th June 1964. In addition to the media coverage, this racial unrest was perfectly timed to coincide with the demonstrations that were taking place in other U.S cities. The senate was also debating the motion to end the filibustering by the southerners. At the same time, black right lawyers began winning courtroom battles, with Judge Bryan Simpson ruling severally in favor of civil rights activists, encouraging black lawyers to bring cases against the white supremacists. His decision culminated in the injunctions and orders that brought the community under control. Therefore, Dr. King used the media atten ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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