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Eliminating the Brutality Toward African Americans: Impacts of the Civil Rights Movement

Kiyahna Brown

e3 Civic High


There are many impacts of the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks and Emmett Till have arguably

some of the most influential stories from the civil rights period. While talking about this

movement, the economic impacts are also introduced as decreasing largely because of the

movement. From movements in the past to movements in the present and future, the impacts can

only increase which will always positively impact our country. The focal point of this paper is

the effects of the civil rights movement and how specific contributions can eliminate the brutality

towards African Americans. The goal is to explain the extent of brutality towards black people

and how our nation can unite to fight for justice. By expressing the pain and suffering African

Americans face, it should help the readers understand the purpose behind the empowering


Keywords: African Americans, brutality, civil rights, impacts, movement


Eliminating the Brutality Toward African Americans: Impacts of the Civil Rights Movement

In the words of Jesse Williams, Even with videotaped evidence of police destroying

black people, many freedom-loving Americans remain unconvinced of a systemic problem.

Maybe some day the perfect tape will be released, one in which the dead or maimed African

American has just the right wardrobe, complexion, size and diction to warrant empathy

(Williams, 2014, 10). It is true when Jesse suggests that even with hard-hitting evidence

explaining the main controversial issues in our society, Americans are still naive to the central

idea that needs to be addressed. Although people have faith that equality in our country has been

accomplished, it is mainly credited to the contributions of Rosa Parks to Emmett Till that helps

eliminate the threat of brutality towards African Americans. More than 920 people have been

killed by the police in 2015 and for every 1000 people killed by the police, only one officer is

convicted of a crime (Hauler, 2015, 4). To understand the extent of the brutality which caused

the civil rights movement, one must understand the lives of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till, the

economic impacts within the movement, and how the civil rights movement influenced

movements today. When learning about the lives of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till, the amount of

pain and suffering they went through becomes more apparent and the purpose of it all is then

revealed. The economic impacts from the movement is drastic which makes Americans think

twice before causing controversial problems for the rest of the country. Knowing about

movements today helps one realize the long-lasting influence the civil rights movement made on

the nation.

Rosa Parks was an exhausted seamstress riding home from a long day and refused to give

up her seat because she did not understand why she had to move. Since she refused to give up

her seat to a white passenger, she was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black

people to relinquish seats to white people when the bus was full. (Civil Disobedience, 1) The

bus incident led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association which was led by

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company

and it lasted for 381 days. The boycott brought Mrs. Parks, Mr. King, and their cause to the

attention of the world. Eventually, a Supreme Court decision struck down the Montgomery

ordinance, fined Rosa Parks, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.

(Achievement, 2017, 7) This means they actually got their point across and everything they

fought for was achieved. After it all, Rosa became known as the Mother of the Civil Rights


Emmett Till on the other hand, suffered way worse. He walked into a store and was

wrongfully accused for cat-calling at a woman at the register. From the outrageous accusation, he

was hunted down by a group of caucasians and brutally murdered basically because of something

he did not do. They pulled his body from the Tallahatchie River, about 12 miles from Money. A

fisherman, white teenager, had found him there. His body was weighed down by a heavy gin fan

tied around his neck with barbed wire (Till-Mobley and Benson, 2003, p.127). After the

kidnapping of Emmett, he was extremely beat, shot in the head, and the barbed wire that was

used to weigh him down was tied to a large metal fan which helped drag his mutilated body into

the river. When he was found 3 days later, his corpse was so destroyed beyond recognition, his

mother could only identify him by the ring he wore. That is simply because it was engraved with

his fathers initials. The Emmett Till murder trial brought light to the brutality of Jim Crow

segregation in the South and was an early impetus of the African American civil rights

movement (The Death of Emmett Till, 2010, 6). The novel; Death of Innocence, gave

perspectives from Mamie Till-Mobley or Emmetts mother that not everyone realized. Mamie

wanted to get her point across by having an open-casket funeral for Emmett Till as explained in

the following quote, People had to face my son and realize just how twisted, how distorted, how

terrifying race hatred could be. People had to consider all of that as they viewed Emmetts body.

The whole nation had to bear witness to this (Till-Mobley and Benson, 2003, p.136.4).

Although they had many hardships, their disturbing circumstances made way for our world to

come together and fight for something we stood for.

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal raised the expectations of black

working people. The New Deal, however, had its limitations; it did not eliminate poverty, nor did

it bring any measure of economic aid to some of the most needy members of society.

Sharecroppers, tenant farmers, domestic workers, and residents of American ghettos and barrios

reaped few of the benefits of this grand experiment in government spending. Some New Deal

programs condoned and encouraged racial discrimination in hiring, unequal wages for black and

white employees, and the development of segregated neighborhoods. Despite President

Roosevelt's bold efforts to rescue Americans from the depths of the Great Depression, blacks

remained disproportionately unemployed, property-less, and disenfranchised. (Shmoop Editorial

Team, 2008, 1). The Montgomery Bus Boycott had a significant economic impact on the bus

companies of Montgomery, Alabama, as well as on the city's downtown shops. African-

Americans comprised 75 percent of bus riders before the boycott, so their lack of patronage hurt

the bus companies' profits significantly. In addition, the boycott meant that fewer African-

Americans were traveling to Montgomery's city center and shopping in its stores. The civil rights

movement caused some problems for Americas economy, but it was worth it because it

influenced the minds of others to continue to begin movements in order to fight for what is right.

#BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martins murderer, George

Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was posthumously

placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of black people in this country who

actively resist our dehumanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the

virulent anti-black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution

that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes (Black Lives

Matter, 2012, 2). People not only fight for racial equality, but gender equality as well. On

Saturday, January 21, 5 million people including hundreds of ERA staff and supporters took

to the streets to stand for womens rights, civil rights, and equality for all. It was a breathtaking

day and an inspiring beginning of a powerful movement (ERA Staff, 2017, 1). The turnout was

double than the initial expectation which shows more people cared about the movement than

others thought (Cook and Bartner, 2017, 3). The fundamentals of movements make way for the

idea that anyone can start one to change the world for the better.

Counter Argument

Some brutality towards african americans is a result of typical statistics that label them.

Lacking a father-figure produces the assumption that a black child will grow up to be a thug,

hoodlum, hooligan, or gangster. From these initial assumptions, one could immediately label a

child for the rest of their lives which eventually creates the brutal behavior that child may face

throughout their life. Ever since the United States has been established, equality has always been

the definition of America; a symbol of hope, freedom, and the chance to have a fair life as well

as many of the opportunities most Americans expect. Segregation was considered to be separate

but equal. One may pose the idea that segregation is a good way to focus on the differences

between blacks and whites. For example, if a group of african americans were left to support

themselves, they would see how dependent they are on white people. As the white people would

make a presumed utopia, the blacks would likely soon find themselves in less than desirable

conditions. Another positive aspect of segregation could be that it benefits a school setting.

Separating boys and girls at school could help so neither group is showing off for the other and

they can all learn more. Our world is improving because people are not afraid to speak up against

what is wrong.


This nation could not have possibly changed without the advancement of colored people.

That said, the civil rights movement has been essential towards understanding the power of unity.

When one person falls, a group will come together to bring that person up once again.

Movements were created for that exact purpose; to uplift as well as speak up for others and

yourself. Rosa Parks wanted everyone to know that she should not have to get up only because

she is african american. Sitting down simply made others stand beside her once she got arrested

mainly because there was no dignified reason for her arrest. Emmett Tills story was grounds for

an uproar. An innocent child being brutally murdered for no apparent reason and then his

murderers pleading innocent makes no sense. The laws that held back black people were

obviously used in that trial. This is because african americans were considered to hold no value

which in translation, meant their word had no value. During Emmetts life the accused lied to

him, the state, and themselves. It is a shame to see that after 62 years, the lady that accused him

wants to finally confess. Too little and way too late. It is very interesting to see how much guilt

could eat up at a person after all those years. The fact that the economy dropped after the civil

rights movement means that it takes a whole village to shake up a nation. The bus boycott began

as a gathering of ideas and turned into the bus company not getting money. From people not

riding the bus, they were not going into stores and the stores stopped making money. Once the

stores stopped making money, the government also stopped making money which all goes to say

that one thing created a major domino effect. This resulted in the downfall of the economy within

the civil rights movement. Our nation always tries to recreate and evolve. The civil rights

movement gave hope to our society to be able to start our own movements. This made way for

endless opportunities. Significant figures have always influenced the nation because it puts ideas

in the minds of optimists. America should always be looking for optimists in order to create new

influential role models for the future.



Cook, T., & Bartner, A. (2017, January 21). Thousands of Hoosiers join massive Women's

March in Washington. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from


This article explains the current issues within the United States today specifically,

The Womens March in Washington. The article adds what happened during the

massive event and also the opinions from those who participated in the march. This

is a credible source because USA Today writes original stories and follows certain

journalistic principles that are essential to writing a good story. This article is

valuable to my research because it adds the modern perspective and connects the

past to the present within this paper.

Rosa Parks Was Arrested for Civil Disobedience, December 1, 1955 - Jump Back in Time |

America's Library - Library of Congress. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from

This source explains the story behind Rosa Parks. It gives a full description of her

life and what she went through. This is a credible source because the site wants you

to learn about history and it is directly from the Library of Congress in Washington

DC. This source is valuable to my research because it gives background information

about Rosa Parks and it contributes to my paper.

The Death of Emmett Till. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from

This article is an essential story about the life of Emmett Till. This site is a reliable

source since it holds valuable information about the topics being discussed in this

paper as well as additional information that could help advance the progress of the

paper. This will support my thesis since it helps give more facts that are essential to

understanding the lives of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till.

The Leadership Conference. (2001). Civil Rights 101. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from

This source is a basic chronological timeline of the civil rights movement as well as

events prior to the movement. It includes important information about the brutality

of African Americans as well as the lives of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till. This

source is credible because The Leadership Conference is a coalition that promotes

and protects the civil and human rights of all people in the United States. This will

support my thesis since it gives accurate dates as to when the Civil War took place

as well as when important events happened that led up to the movement.

Till-Mobley, M. & Benson, C. (2003). Death of Innocence: The story of the hate crime that

changed america. New York: Random House

The book gives commentary straight from Emmett Tills mother. It discussed how

she felt and what she had to go through after knowing her only son was brutally

murdered. This is a reliable source because the book is written by Emmett Tills

mother and she gets help from a respected writer. This will support my thesis

because it gives the paper the perspective of the mother of an iconic civil rights


Wright, S. & Boyd, H. (2010). Simeons Story: An eyewitness account of the kidnapping of

emmett till. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books

This book is directly from the point of view of Emmetts cousin Simeon who is also

a witness to the abduction. This is a reliable source because within the book, he

addresses the distortions of Emmetts story and disproves false statements within

other resources about his story. This is valuable to my research paper because this

information is from a close relative of Emmett Till. It also helps add additional

information to the research paper.