Was the Civil Rights Movement successful?

Most of us take our civil liberties for granted. But there was a time when those rights were refused to certain races, and this wasn’t so long ago. The Civil Rights Movement happened 50 years ago, and it even took some parts of the country until 1985 to desegregate their public schools. Martin Luther King Jr. led this movement, in hopes of creating a better future for blacks.

Martin Luther King Jr.


Through peaceful protests, marches, and sit-ins, African American’s voices were finally heard. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 advanced the rights of blacks all over the country. But what made this movement successful?

First, before we can address that, we need to analyze whether or not the movement was a faction.  I believe that Madison would classify as the Civil Rights movement as a faction because it was a group with the common interest of advancing rights for blacks and stopping the violence towards them. This bounded the group together, even though the group was made up of various races, religions, and backgrounds. The group went against the status quo and what some supremacists whites would think of as the common good. The movement wanted to change the attitude that blacks were inferior and did not deserve the same rights as whites.

The Civil Rights Movement did help blacks gain what they were seeking. So you may ask, what do I mean by asking what made this movement successful? I think we can all agree that a changing of attitudes, great leadership, and communities rising and standing up for blacks. But what I mean by asking that question is how come this faction wasn’t suppressed, like Madison says they should be. What made this faction different?

James Madison

Madison writes, “If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote.” The civil right movement was a minority faction, so how did is surpass this republican principle to succeed? The regular vote was not in their favor, if it had been blacks would have been able to join that vote with the passing of the 15th amendment in 1870.

Madison argues that factions consist of many problems. He states that faction interests might hurt the right of individuals. He also writes, “It is in vain to say that the enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good.” I argue that the civil rights faction helped the rights of individuals by enfranchising blacks and ending desegregation. It might have been in vain to Southern whites, but not to those blacks who were granted liberties.

Madison goes on, “men of factious tempers…betray the interests, of the people.”  Martin Luther King Jr. did the exact opposite for blacks. He bettered the black community, but at the same time, betrayed the interests of white supremacists. So, do you think Madison thought that all factions were bad for the public good? If Madison lived during the Civil Rights movement, do you think he would agree with what he wrote about factions, or join the cause for blacks’ rights? And ultimately, what made this faction successful?

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1 Response to Was the Civil Rights Movement successful?

  1. So, do you think Madison thought that all factions were bad for the public good?
    Yes, i strongly believe that he was opposed to factions as a whole. In his time they had to band together to win their independence, there was no room for loyalists, Quakers, etc. They were basically going up against a giant, the strongest military in the world at the time, trying to beat them and win independence, something they thought to be nearly impossible.

    If Madison lived during the Civil Rights movement, do you think he would agree with what he wrote about factions, or join the cause for blacks’ rights?
    Yes he would stand by it and defiantly not support black rights , he was a slave owner whose massive fortune and political career were supported by it. If you decided that Windows OS was crappy and ought to be made illegal and you asked for bill gates input what do you think his response would be? I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of no chance in hell.

    And ultimately, what made this faction successful?

    I would say that there was a huge current building up for some time. Black people and other minorities won a certain amount of respect as WW2 veterans, so in a sense nobody could say that they were UN-American. And secondly, the rise of the rebellious hippie era caused a lot of changes, it was cool to do the opposite of what your parents told you. There were a lot of rebels looking for a cause, and black rights was there gaining momentum. And beyond that people’s general attitudes were not all opposed to black rights. Slavery ended because a lot of white people stood up and said enough. The only place that had serious lingering attitudes was the deep south, which arguably still does. So when the issue as a whole came to center stage, people who were never opposed to the issue of black rights agreed. But the movement also gave protection to not just black people, but women, religious minorities and other racial minorities as well. I could write an entire essay on this but i think that should answer your question.

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