Media Affects the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement is an important part of the American history. It may be one of the aspects that shaped the US society into what one can witness today. While it is recognized that many factors contributed to its success, the role that the media plays is often not given the deserved credit. Obviously, one cannot belittle the impact that the prominent leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X had on it; however, it would be fair to acknowledge that the media also contributed to the social change with the help in this particular instance. That is why it would be logical to assume that media played an important role in this historical phenomenon. This way people will be able to develop a full understanding of it. Media has had a positive impact on the Civil Rights Movement in many ways: it helped the leaders spread the message, it directed the attention of the public to exist inequalities in voting, and showed that the goals of the movement are important to all parts of the society.

The media helped the Civil Rights Movement spread its message among millions of people. A good example is a way in which March on Washington was televised. In 1963, the media was covering all events and directed a considerable amount of resources to represent this particular event. It is estimated that the number of technicians and journalists that were present at the march and helped it being broadcasted is about five hundred (Ollhoff 55). This is extremely important since it enabled people who lived in remote parts of the country to monitor the development of the issue and hear what the leaders of the movement had to say. One might suggest that if it had not been for the media, the march in question would not have had such a significant impact on the population. Indeed, the fact that it was televised so well engaged other citizens and contributed to the development of sympathy for the cause. What is even more important, it enabled the leaders of the movement to achieve exactly what they wanted which is attracting the attention of the entire nature. The media turned a march from one of the biggest events organized by the Civil Rights Movement Activists into one of the most important events of that year (Dierenfield and White 19). Since it was the source of national news, the channels were willing to report everything about it. All this leads to the understanding that the media coverage, as well as the charisma of the leaders, contributed to the profound impact that March on Washington had. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that the role of media in this particular instance should not be reduced.

Another important contribution that the media did was attracting the views of the people to the inequalities that existed in the voting system. During Freedom Summer of 1964, about a thousand activists went to Mississippi to help the African American voters register. The resistance of the   KKK was intense and it resulted in three civil workers missing. Two of them were white, one was black. The media covered this story greatly as it was a source of news that the people have interested it (Dunkel 319). They showed that it was the time when white activists suffered violence from the racists of the south just like the black activists. One might suggest that it was an important point in the development of the Civil Rights Movement since the public noticed that the struggle for rights was affecting all parts of the population. However, what is even more important is that the more people learned about the events of Freedom Summer, the more they learned about the inequalities of the voting system. It is quite possible that at the time many white people sincerely believed that their black counterparts had the same voting rights as they did. In other words, it was not the fact that the media covered the story of three missing young men, but rather that it made people take a closer look at what was happening in the south(Ling 128). Some might suggest that the three lives were the price that the society had to pay to recognize that it had a deep problem with the voting process. So, the coverage of this story showed that the African Americans were demanding equal treatment and many sympathized their cause. Prior to this incident, the media did not take into account the existing problems of voting which made them disappear from the public attention.

Finally, the media turned the attention of the public to the issue by showing that the far-right groups were a threat to the rest of the society. One might assume that when the black activists suffered violence, these events were presented from the point of view of racial hatred. However, when the media started reporting violent attacks on the white activists as well, it recognized that the crisis crossed the racial lines (Wilson 22). This is particularly important since the media showed that the Civil Right Movement was not some kind of a movement that was open to African Americans only. Obviously, originally the number of white supporters was insignificant; however, as it developed the media provides the pictures of whites and blacks fighting together for equality. This shifted the focus of the moving showing that it was trying to achieve balance in the society and not some excessively beneficial treatment of one particular group within the population. What is even more important is that this kind of coverage helped the movement attract more white supporters. The latter finally understood that the struggle of the African Americans was their struggle as well. This meant that the movement gained the momentum and was using its potential to its fullest. One might suggest that if it had not been for the media coverage, the Civil Rights Movement would have remained a cause that only African Americans were supporting. However, the media showed that the whites were equally affected by the problems. As a result, the more success the movement gained and the more the white people suffered, the more this movement became a national issue. With this in mind, it is obvious that the media played an important role in the development of it.

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, one is able to come to the following conclusion: the role of the media, as well as its impact on the development of the Civil Rights Movement, should be recognized as quite important. In the case of March on Washington, it helped the leaders spread the message to a considerably bigger number of people due to the fact that it was televised. Secondly, the media drew the attention of the audience to the existing problem in the voting process after it covered the deaths of the three civil rights activists during Freedom Summer of 1964. Finally, the media helped the white majority understand that the goals the Civil Rights Movement were equally important to it. That is why one might come to the understanding that the media contributed to the success of the movement greatly.

Works Cited

Dierenfield, Bruce J., and John White. A history of African-American leadership. Pearson, 2012.

Dunkel, Mario. Aesthetics of resistance Charles Mingus and the civil rights movement. Lit, 2012.

Ling, Peter Jordan. Gender in the Civil Rights Movement. Routledge, 2014.

Ollhoff, Jim. The civil rights movement. ABDO Pub., 2011.

Wilson, Jamie Jaywann. Civil rights movement. Greenwood, 2013.

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[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

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