HIS204: American History Since 1865
African American’s faced some of the worst and cruel punishments in United States history. When one thinks of African Americans they think of slavery, however there were several other elements to the demise of African American men and women. Moreover, African American’s were mistreated in almost every way possible. However, through sacrifice, willpower and determination, African American’s managed to accomplish many milestones throughout the 20th and 21’st centuries, leading to much of the success that we see today. There were several African American activists who put their lives in harm’s way on a daily basis in order to achieve equality throughout the nation. From major sporting accomplishments (Jesse Owens) to the election of the first African American president (Barrack Obama), blacks have accomplished much success in their mission to gain respect and equality. Although early in the 1900’s many of the accomplishments would be considered minimal to folks outside of the African American race, to the African American’s the accomplishments were considered major milestones. In the paragraphs to come I will examine key milestones that African American’s achieved, analyzing the importance of each and explain how such events may have contributed to developments in the later decades. Specifically, I will explore events including: The Niagara Movement, The Harlem Renaissance, Jesse Owens wining four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin (1936), Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), many of the core accomplishments during the Civil Rights Movement, and the United States election of 2008.
One of the first historical accomplishments achieved by African American’s in order to achieve their rights to equality was The Niagara Movement of 1905. Founded by W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter, the movement was aimed at demanding equal rights to free born Americans. “From the marginally less oppressive racial climate of the North, Du Bois advocated forthright and unceasing protest against all forms of racial discrimination. In July 1905, he led 29 black activists in forming the Niagara Movement, taking its name from a meeting held at Niagara Falls, which demanded 'every right that belongs to a free-born American — political, civil and social'. Despite making little progress in its own right, the Niagara Movement became a forerunner of the NAACP (Kirk, J. 2009).” Despite the establishment of 30 branches and the achievements of a few scattered civil-rights victories at the local level, the movement suffered from organizational weakness and lack of funds as well as a permanent headquarters or staff. It never was able to attract mass support. However, after the Springfield (Illinois) Race Riot of 1908, white liberals joined with the nucleus of Niagara militants and founded the NAACP the next year. The Niagara Movement disbanded in 1911.
In the following years another movement became known as The Harlem Renaissance or the New Negro Movement which was intended to depict African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and is considered the most influential movement in African American literary history. “The Harlem Renaissance demonstrated that beauty and poetry existed in many diverse areas, and this became one of the important cultural legacies of the 1920s (Bowles, 2011)." The social foundations of this movement included the Great Migration of African Americans from rural to urban spaces and from South to North; dramatically rising levels of literacy; the creation of national organizations dedicated to pressing African American civil rights, uplifting the race, and opening socioeconomic opportunities; and developing race pride, including pan-African sensibilities and programs. The Renaissance had many sources in black culture, primarily of the African American and Caribbean and manifested itself well beyond just Harlem where it was...
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