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Chilling Images of the Civil Rights Movement

Bloody Sunday Marches

Bloody Sunday Marches

Also known as the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the Bloody Sunday protests were a series of marches held in 1965. Activists marched for 54 miles along the highway to protest the fact African Americans were violently segregated.

Despite the protestors being nonviolent (pictured being the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), the police didn't respond in kind. Activists were shot and killed during the peaceful march, while others were beaten so hard that they lost consciousness.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Wreckage Near Gaston Motel

Wreckage Near Gaston Motel

The African American civil rights movement was plagued with lots of violence. This is just one example of that. In 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had decided to make its way to Birmingham. As the protests began, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested.

As time went on, the protests made headway by desegregating lunch counters, public accommodations, and more. The white community acted violently with this change. The Gaston Motel was where the SCLC was staying, and the KKK bombed it on May 14, 1963. Riots began again in response.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Black Lives Matter Murals

Black Lives Matter Murals

After the death of George Floyd, communities began painting murals to honor those who were killed by police brutality. Portland is known for having a large activist community, but it's also completely surrounded by conservative rural areas. 

This is just one of the many murals that were placed around the United States to remind everyone of those who passed away. The protests even expanded to include the entire world, including England, Canada, and Spain.  

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Bloody Sunday Police Attack

Bloody Sunday Police Attack

Why was this march considered "Bloody Sunday?" The protests were peaceful before the police got involved, and those who marched were told not to fight back if anything broke out. It was just occupying the space, so why did the police respond with heavily armed state troopers?

The protestors paused before continuing to walk toward the troopers, and the police responded by launching teargas toward them. Furthermore, they were beaten, whipped, spat on, and trampled by horses. The state troopers' behavior added fuel to the movement, and marchers broke out in 80 cities across the United States. 

(Image via Wikipedia)

Rodney King Protests

Rodney King Protests

With George Floyd's protests still fresh in our minds, these images look eerily similar. This was just one protest after Los Angeles police beat Rodney King with their batons, which left King with a fractured skull, broken bones, and permanent brain damage.

The police went to court, but the jury ultimately acquitted the four LAPD officers of using excessive force. People were furious, and rightly so. Rodney King became a symbol, but his family urges that it's also important to remember him as a man, as well.  

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Am I Next?

Am I Next?

It had become clear that you didn't need to commit a crime to be detained or violently assaulted by police. After all, Breonna Taylor was simply sleeping when she was killed by plainclothes policemen who broke into her boyfriend's home.

According to Statista, African Americans are killed by police more than any other race in the United States. Between 2015 and 2021, 34 per million African Americans were fatally shot compared to 14 per million white individuals. That left African Americans asking, "Am I Next?"

Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine

Brown vs. Board of Education was one of the most defining cases in the United States. It desegregated schools, but that didn't mean the path was easy after that. Three years after the case, nine students made their way to Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. Along with angry crowds, Governor Orval Faubus used the national guard to keep the pupils from entering the school.

It took three weeks, but they were finally able to ascend the steps to go to class. They had to be escorted by the U.S. Army to avoid being hurt or brutalized by angry white crowds. The Nine likely didn't know it at the time, but their courage would be remembered forever.

(Image via Pinterest)

Not So Peaceful

Not So Peaceful

When there's unrest, there will be riots. It's the way most people communicate their frustration with their living situation, government, and social issues at hand. Protests over George Floyd hit Minneapolis harder than any other place. Here we see a liquor store that was set ablaze.

The fires and violence were spurred by the fact that the police officers knelt on Floyd's neck for more than five minutes. Even worse, they weren't immediately fired. The protests began on May 26th and, while they've slowed down, they haven't completely stopped.

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George Floyd Riots in Minneapolis

George Floyd Riots in Minneapolis

It's hard to believe that it has been over half a century since Bloody Sunday in Alabama, yet here we are. George Floyd was being detained when a police officer kneeled on his throat long enough for him to lose consciousness and die. The whole time, he was telling the officers that he couldn't breathe.

His words struck people's hearts, and protests began almost immediately. This included riots where people burned stores, cars, and whatever they could. Like a fire, the protests grew in size and eventually encompassed the entire United States.

(Image via Wikipedia)

The Children's Crusade

The Children's Crusade

Saying that the '60s were a rough time for African Americans is an understatement. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference had begun setting up campaigns and protests, and one of those was called "The Children's Crusade." The goal was to talk to the mayor about segregation.

Birmingham has a history of opposing these changes. On the first day of the protests, hundreds of children were arrested. The second day wasn't much better. The Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Conner, ordered police to spray children with powerful water hoses, beat them with batons, and release police dogs on them.  

(Image via Pinterest)

Police Dogs in Birmingham

Police Dogs in Birmingham

The Birmingham protests and police brutality continued for weeks. There were kids as young as seven involved in the campaign, but it didn't matter. Police dogs brutally attacked, and the owners were close behind.

Hundreds were carried off to jail. Bull Connor, the Commissioner for Public Safety (and a well-known segregationist), was reported as saying, "You can never whip these birds if you don't keep you and them separate."

(Image via Twitter)

Protests Against the Little Rock Nine

Protests Against the Little Rock Nine

Even though it had been years since Brown vs. Board of Education, people still protested desegregation. We're not too sure why. Here we see a group of people protesting the Little Rock Nine from entering the school to get a good education.

Even the governor got in on the action. Eventually, the United States government stepped in and gave the students access to the school. The worst part is that they needed a side door to avoid the wrath of the protestors.  

(Image via Wikipedia)

"I Have a Dream"

"I Have a Dream"

After marching on Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. proceeded to give one of the most inspiring speeches any of us have ever heard. It was a speech about equality and the rights of people of color. The crowd looks massive, but it's even larger than you may realize.

There were as many as 250,000 people in attendance that day. On top of that, 3,000 members of the press covered every word. King would continue to be a huge figure in the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in 1968.

(Image via Wikipedia)

1967 TSU Riot

1967 TSU Riot

Houston would remember this day forever. The TSU Riot of 1967 was a stark reminder that people of color and police don't quite mesh well – to put it lightly. The basic breakdown of this riot is that shots were fired, nearly 500 students were arrested, and there were major injuries on either side.

What wasn't stated until recently was that there was no rioting, looting, or destruction of property. It was a simple, peaceful protest until the police showed up. The police alleged debris had been thrown at their vehicle, and that led to a shoot-out.  

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The Occupation of Alcatraz

The Occupation of Alcatraz

This one goes all the way back to the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. See, the treaty stated that if any land was considered "surplus" by the government, then the Sioux had the opportunity to claim it as their own. Only, the government didn't hold up their end of the bargain when Alcatraz was closed and labeled surplus.

It was given to the city of San Francisco, so the American Indian Movement (AIM) decided to claim it as their own. This conquest lasted 19 months until the government decided to renege on their deal and forcibly remove the Native Americans from Alcatraz.

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BLM Brooklyn

BLM Brooklyn

The New York City Police have a long history of racism and misconduct. There have been over 12,000 cases that have totaled over $400 million in settlements. However, no amount of money can bring back someone murdered. It also doesn't help the trauma experienced by those involved.

Understandably, Brooklyn was also a hotspot for Black Lives Matter movements. Brooklyn street was painted over with a giant mural that stated, "BLACK LIVES MATTER." It took over 50 people, but the volunteers got it finished over a short period of time.

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D.C. BLM Protest

D.C. BLM Protest

This image doesn't look that much different than what we saw from Bloody Sunday in Alabama. This photo was taken in Washington D.C. as protestors stood for George Floyd against D.C. National Guard. It's chilling to see that very little has changed even though it's been nearly a century.

Even though the national guard stood, blocking protestors, people still occupied the space from May 28th to June 23rd – nearly four weeks. During this time, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator (now Vice President) Kamala Harris, and Senator Mitt Romney joined the group to fight for black lives.

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Chicago Freedom Movement

Chicago Freedom Movement

The Chicago Freedom Movement was led by Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel, and Al Raby. The goals were to provide quality education, housing, transportation, jobs, income, health, and so much more – the things most of us expect nowadays without question.

The national guard was deployed to keep protestors in line with the threat of violence. While this picture is terrifying, it's good to know that the Chicago Freedom Movement is a large reason the 1968 Fair Housing Act was passed.  

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Protests in Berlin

Protests in Berlin

Black Lives Matter was bigger than just the United States. Racism and injustice are global problems, which is why Berlin broke out in a giant protest. Thousands upon thousands held up signs and announced their issue with police brutality toward people of color. Some reports say that there were as many as 15,000.

One woman is reported as saying, "In the Black German community, there was really a feeling that people in Europe and Germany were not really aware that there is also a racism issue here. That black Germans are confronted with racism nearly on an everyday basis."

(Image via Wikipedia)

Hands Up St. Paul

Hands Up St. Paul

St. Paul had some of the most violent riots in the United States, and this picture speaks a thousand words. It didn't matter who you were or what you were doing. The violence was astounding. This man holds his hands up in front of a line of police.

Journalists were shot with teargas and rubber bullets, people were pulled out of their vehicles to be tased and arrested, and anyone simply walking home from work was at risk of being hurt by the police. It just highlighted the violence the protests were about.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Occupation Disrupted

Occupation Disrupted

The occupation of Alcatraz wasn't difficult at first. However, the United States government shut down electricity to the island, and getting water was becoming increasingly difficult. While there were people who donated food, it was hard to survive without basic necessities.

While there, Native Americans wrote things on the wall, including what you see in the picture above. John Trudell founded Radio Free Alcatraz to give updates about everything. As the occupation continued, some people had to leave to return to their lives. Hippies and photographers invaded the island and took it over, distracting the original message of the movement. 

(Image via University of Arizona)

Sacheen Littlefeather

Sacheen Littlefeather

Everyone was excited about the 1973 Oscars, but it wouldn't go exactly how they thought. Sacheen Littlefeather got in contact with Marlon Brando, asking if he was interested in Native American rights. Instead of giving a speech on her behalf, Brando boycott the Oscars and gave his speech time to Littlefeather.

Once on stage, she gave the speech of a lifetime. She announced that Brando wouldn't accept the award because of the treatment of American Indians in the film industry and the world around them. She was polite, but that didn't stop the audience from booing her.

(Image via Pinterest)

Chicago 1977

Chicago 1977

In 2012, the California police shot a Latino man, Manuel Diaz, as he fled through an apartment complex. He was unarmed and pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital three hours later. That wasn't the first time the police and Latinos came into conflict.

The Humboldt Park riots were among the major conflicts between Puerto Ricans and the Chicago Police Department. It followed the shooting of two Puerto Rican men, who the CPD killed. There were three killed, 97 wounded, and 164 arrested during these riots. 

(Image via Facebook)

Protests on the Freeway

Protests on the Freeway

All over Minnesota, people protested. This image was taken in St. Paul, Minnesota. Demonstrators marched along I-35 while holding signs and yelling about the police brutality that has ended many African Americans' lives.

Protesting on the freeway became common during the height of the BLM protests, and in some cities, the police even escorted and protected those who marched. That being said, not everyone took it so kindly. In Seattle, protestors were hit when a car rammed through closure signs and hit two women marching.

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The BLM Helpers

The BLM Helpers

Some national guard members were sent to fight back against protestors, while others were there to help those suffering from teargas. Governor Brian Kemp allowed 3,000 national guard members to enter the state to reinforce police lines.

A curfew was instated, and teargas was used to enforce the law. Thankfully, the national guard tried to handle things as peacefully as possible. After just four days, over 400 people were arrested. According to 11Alive, there was around 425 total arrests.

(Image via Wikipedia)

The Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act

Today, there's still a large gap between men and women in the workforce. CNBC reported that women earn just 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, making this photo even more chilling. Here we see John F. Kennedy signing in the Equal Pay Act into law.

While the bill surely helped somewhat, there's still a major gap in pay between men and women, especially for women of color. The bill just created consequences for companies if the employee can prove they were being paid less than their male counterparts.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Suffragette Alice Paul

Suffragette Alice Paul

This image is none other than Alice Paul, one of the most prominent suffragettes in history. From a young age, she attended suffragist meetings with her mother and continued to fight for women's rights for decades.

After Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony's death, she really revved the movement back up. Paul founded the National Women's Party. After protests, marches, and demonstrations, the NWP started to make headway and gain popular support. Four years later, the 19th amendment was ratified to give women the right to vote.

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The 1968 Chicano Blowouts

The 1968 Chicano Blowouts

In 1968, Los Angeles was rocked by a series of walkouts in its high schools. Students and teachers alike walked out due to racism. Mexican American students had a 60% dropout rate, and the ones who did graduate could only read that equal to an 8th-grade white student.

Over 15,000 students walked out, and many of them were arrested. Here, we see Ruth Robinson, co-editor of La Raza, and Margarita Sanchez being arrested. Those detained were charged with felony conspiracy.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Paul Hernandez

Paul Hernandez

Paul Hernandez is no doubt one of the most well-known activists in the Chicano movement. Beginning in the late 1960s, he protested and organized campaigns to fight for equality. It wasn't rare for him to clash with politicians and police alike. That being said, only one of them would beat Hernandez with excessive force.  

While protesting police violence, law enforcement stepped in to remind everyone why people were angry in the first place. This photo shows Paul Hernandez being brutalized during the 1978 Austin Aqua Festival. Only one officer was suspended for excessive force.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Chicano Movements and Edward J. Escobar

Chicano Movements and Edward J. Escobar

Chicano activism was to fight racism, especially when Mexican Americans became involved with police (whether requesting help or otherwise). Edward Escobar was one of the most outspoken during this movement. He stated that "police violence, rather than subduing Chicano movement activism, propelled that activism to a new level."

This picture proves that much to be true. This picture shows how the police brutalized those involved in the protests. One journalist, Ruben Salazar, was even killed after the police shot teargas into a café he'd been in. Escobar brought up Salazar often, considering him a martyr for the movement.

(Image via Wikipedia)