Prejudice and Racism 1960

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December 7 2012
Racism has been present in our societies from the time races first collided and were forced to live in each other’s presence. The Blacks were enslaved for many centuries before it was made illegal in most countries during the 1800s. However, racism and prejudice continue to be present in the 20th century, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During these years, political triggers in England and the United States, drastically changed racism, with numerous consequences. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee explores the notion of racism in a small southern town in the United States during the depression whereas the novel To Sir With Love, by E.R Braithwaite deals with racism and prejudice in a post-war Britain. The history during the time these novels were written and published was very influential to the authors and success of the books. Both authors’ lives were very significant in the plot of these novels as both show autobiographical contents. The development of the main characters of both novels show the effect of prejudices in their behavior and thoughts and how this changes as they mature. The elements of fiction are present in both novel; the setting, themes and motifs contain important life lessons and deep connotations. Finally, the perspective from the prejudiced, the colored main character in both novels show their view and thoughts throughout the plot and we see their prejudices against the whites disappear. But what causes a person to hate and feel superior to another person simply based on the color of their skin? Fear and ignorance are the main reason for the segregation between races. Fear of the unknown is a natural concern, which is why many fearful people are racist. People like security, which is why fear intrudes when an abnormality becomes present in their lives.

The time in which the novel To Kill a Mockingbird was written, was a time of great revolution due to racism in the United States. The years 1950 and 1960 were extremely significant in the American history. A new president was elected, then murdered for being against racism. Martin Luther King Jr. made a scandalous speech and the KKK made many disturbing advances towards the anti-racism community. This was a dangerous time for anyone of color or anyone who supported them. President John F. Kennedy was elected as president in 1960 in the midst of a Cold War with the Soviet Union and a quarrel with Cuba. A revolution against racism and slavery was also boiling, creating great protest and unrest. It goes without saying that Kennedy presided in a country filled with discontent. Kennedy was a supporter of human rights and of the black community, which was a heated topic in the 1960s. He was the first president to show sympathy and take action against the severe discrimination of blacks in America. Especially in the south, black people were hated, forced into slavery, treated as animals and disrespected. Martin Luther King Jr. represented the beginning of the end for the torment endured by the Negroes during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, Luther King lead a bus boycott which lasted 382 days with the ultimate goal of rejecting the segregation between whites and blacks on busses. This lead to King’s arrest and imprisonment, and his home’s destruction. “Against the advice of several key campaign strategists, Kennedy called Coretta Scott King on October 26 to offer help in securing her husband’s safe release . . . The African American vote went heavily for Kennedy across the nation, providing the winning margin in several states”(Flor). In 1963, Martin Luther King made his famous « I have a dream » speech, which scandalized the nation. This was an important trigger in the civil rights movement as it brought to light the great impact of discrimination on the Blacks. The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) makes its third major appearance in the 1950s with the beginning of the civil rights movement. They hate Black people and make...
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