Early Demands for Equality

Challenges and Change


Preparing for the Civil Rights Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King addresses protestors.You may have heard about the famous Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that separate-but-equal schools were unconstitutional. You have probably learned about Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Montgomery bus boycott. But do you know about the years of preparation that went into these victories?

Following World War II, African Americans began to gather together and strategize ways of overturning Jim Crow laws and other practices that discriminated against African Americans. African American leaders read about nonviolent resistance leaders like Mahatma Gandhi in India. Organizations such as the NAACP and CORE brainstormed ideas and achieved some limited success. However, the behind-the-scenes work of civil rights leaders in the 1940s and early 1950s was essential to the successes of Brown v. Board of Education and the desegregation of the Montgomery city buses.


  • Describe efforts to end segregation in the 1940s and 1950s
  • Explain the importance of the Brown v. Board of Education decision
  • Describe the controversy over school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Discuss the Montgomery bus boycott

Objectives derived from Pearson Education, Inc. © Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Pearson Prentice Hall. All rights reserved.

Key Words

  • Civil Rights Act of 1957
  • de facto segregation
  • de jure segregation
  • Montgomery Bus boycott