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To Fight or Not To Fight: Effects of Nonviolence and Violence on Civil Rights - page 4 / 10





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in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily

lives” (Kennedy 79). This was the first major step by the President to support the cause of

civil rights leaders. It set into motion the lobbying for a much awaited civil rights bill,

something which President Kennedy may not have launched if not for the resistance of

states such as Alabama. But Kennedy's actions were also spurned by the memory of what

had happened during a series of protests in Birmingham. The events that took place in

Birmingham during the summer of 1963 were some of the most televised clashes

between peaceful blacks and violent whites. Stories of four young black girls gunned

down by Klan members outside of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, of the

assassination of NAACP member Medgar Evers, along with violent images of police

brutality stunned audiences throughout the nation. Images of peaceful protesters and

schoolchildren as young as five being attacked and bitten by unleashed police dogs

encouraged by police officers, and of people's bones being crushed under the force of

high-pressure fire hoses shocked and appalled civil rights activists, moderates, and the

world community as a whole. Outrage reached as far as Rome, where even Pope Paul VI

told reporters that he “prayed for the success of American blacks in their struggle.” Such

cries for reform from within the nation and without prompted Kennedy to take the stand

he took in response to Wallace's actions. This build up of pressure finally came to a point

in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, a much awaited for, yet much watered

down version of what civil rights advocates had been fighting for (Greenblatt 167-174).

While it was viewed as a milestone in securing civil rights, the actual effects of the Act

were less than was hoped for. “The rise in the number of blacks in professional and

technical occupations in the two years from 1964 to 1966 was in fact less than in the one

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