TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS OF THE PEOPLE
‘THE BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT’ (USA)
African-Americans faced many inequalities in America which made many conduct the black civil rights movement to achieve justice and equality. Racial segregation was a system the white Americans put in place to keep African Americans to a lower social status, denying them equal access to public facilities, and keeping them separate from whites. During the era of slavery, most African Americans were in the South rural areas. In that time segregation wasn’t necessary as the boundaries between the whites and the slaves were clear. After the civil war, white supremacy was threatened. In 1865 slavery was abolished and the fourteenth amendment was changed in 1868 to extend citizenship and equal protection of the law to African-Americans. In 1883 the supreme court of the United States declared the statute unconstitutional for regulating. Racist government took hold in the South while the Federal Government had minimalized its strong enforcement of black civil rights. With white controlled government back in power, the rights of Southern blacks slowly deteriorated. From this period on segregation became a ridged legal system separating the races. In this essay we will look at the issues African American’s faced, who was involved in the movement, the traditional heritage of blacks and how the public responded to the participants in the movement. There were many reasons why the African-Americans rose to the challenge of gaining civil rights. The issue was that African-Americans were fed up with the racial discrimination and racism against them. The constitution included the right for everybody to: have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to due process of the law and the right to equal protection under the law1. The constitution was meant for everybody but African-Americans were still not protected by it2.The US constitution created a federal government with rights and power being divided between the federal and state governments3.This meant that the state governments could create rules to exploit the African-Americans any way they wanted to while hardly being contested by the Federal Government. In 1896, the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’, was legal4.This meant that many African-Americans were taken off the electoral process, they were unable to participate fully in the economic sphere and were subjected to violence5. Many whites thought and treated African-Americans as dogs, dogs were even treated better, and many whites believed strongly that they couldn’t mix with lower nations6. A historian, Steven F. Lawson stated, “Segregation was intended to lower African-Americans, stripping them of their dignity, reinforcing their inequality and maintaining them as a submissive agricultural labour force”7. The Jim Crow laws could be viewed as a system of ‘disease control’, quarantining the blacks from the whites. It prevented them from infecting whites with the social and cultural impurities associated with inferior African-Americans8. Blacks endured the physical and social effects of white supremacy in its form of racial restriction and violence. The Jim Crow laws cut across the boundaries of North and South America, African-Americans in the North were better off than the blacks in the South but they were both still oppressed. Between 1940-60, 6 million African Americans were moved to industrial centres in urban North and West America, they were restricted to domestic and retail service work9. In North America blacks had no segregation or discrimination by law, but the North wasn’t without discrimination10. There were other ways of ensuring segregation into Northern society, by ‘redlining’ the property market. It was illegal for banks to give mortgages on property that was seen as a risky investment. It only took one black...
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