White Americans During the Civil Rights Movement

            This essay argues that during the Civil Rights Movement, the majority of White Americans had a different attitude that what is seen and portrayed through images and by the media. White Americans are characterized either martyrs alongside African Americans, or villains who used violence to stop the movement towards equality. I argue that these stereotypes of the Civil Rights Movement are extremely limiting, and that majority of the citizens were neither saints nor villains, but rather in between. I concluded, through both research of articles of this time period, (which is approximately from 1963 until the late 1960s) and through research of books, including Jason Sokol’s book There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975, and Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography by Martin A. Berger, that White Americans neither supported nor resorted to violence to end this movement. By examining the photography of the civil rights movement, specifically of Bruce Davidson’s series A Time of Change and of Charles Moore, it is clear that although White Americans were not eager to welcome African Americans into their society, they were not willing to fight against integration either.  [200 words]

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3 thoughts on “White Americans During the Civil Rights Movement”

  1. This is a great argument! Have you considered looking for other images? I feel that only using images from one series may limit your outlook. Also I think using letters or diaries of white people (talking about their opinions on slavery) might be beneficial.

  2. I think you have a very interesting argument here, and certainly one that goes against most popular belief. I was wondering how you going to approach incorporating both “extremes” of White Americans in your essay. In other words, because there were indeed White Americans who assisted African Americans, as well as ones who used violence against African Americans, how will you prove these weren’t MOST of the White Americans during this time?

  3. I feel as if you are trying to argue that a majority of white Americans are apathetic towards the civil rights movement. Is that what you’re trying to say? Or is it just that most white Americans did not feel strongly enough to fight for one side or another?

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