Civil rights violence dates back at least to the mid-18th century, with the slave revolts of that period and their brutal suppression by whites.
Roaming bands of runaway slaves in the South attacked plantations, and, in 1775, fears of a general slave uprising led to the annihilation of at least one group of Blacks by white soldiers in Georgia.
But for some, after his death, as a Washington Post writer observed, "..army of conscience disbanded, the banners fell, the movement unraveled..." History of Civil Rights Violence Dr.
King's tragic death in Memphis in 1968 was not, unfortunately, historical aberration.
Combat reports indicate that, Black prisoners were murdered by Southern troops following, for example, the 1864 Battles of Fort Pillow, Tenn., Poison Spring, Ark., and the Crater at Petersburg, Va.
In the decade following the Northern victory in 1865 and the freeing of slaves from bondage, a spate of laws, engineered to guarantee the rights of newly emancipated Blacks, were adopted.
Systematic violence, designed to terrify Blacks asserting their right to vote, led Attorney General Alfonso Taft to declare in 1876, "It is the fixed purpose of the Democratic Party in the South that the Negro shall not vote and murder is a common means of intimidation to prevent them." Radical Reconstruction in the South was defeated by 1877, and the last of the Black militias in the South were dissolved.
Southern legislatures adopted laws to deprive Blacks of all opportunity for political or civil participation and to segregate all facilities for education, travel, and public accommodation.
Militant groups such as the White Leagues and the Ku Klux Klan organized to oppose the new challenge to white supremacy.
Outbursts of violence were commonplace throughout the South during this period: According to General Philip Sheridan, commander of troops in Louisiana and Texas during Reconstruction, 3,500 civil rights advocates were slain in Louisiana alone in the decade following the Civil War, 1,884 of them in 1868 alone.