The Civil Rights Movement came to national prominence during the mid-1950s. This movement is rooted in the centuries-long efforts of African slaves and their descendants to resist racial oppression and abolish the institution of slavery.

Although American slaves were emancipated as a result of the Civil War and were granted basic civil rights through the passage of the 14th and the 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution, struggles to secure federal protection of these rights continued during the next century. Through nonviolent protest, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s broke the pattern of public facilities’ being segregated by race in the South and achieved the most important discovery in equal-rights legislation for African Americans since the Reconstruction Period (1865–77).

Though the passage in 1964 and 1965 of major civil rights legislation was victorious for the movement.  By then, Black activists began to see their struggle as a freedom or liberation movement, not just seeking civil rights reforms. They also confronted the enduring economic, political, and cultural consequences of past racial oppression.