The American Freedom

Topics: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Racial segregation, American Civil War Pages: 5 (1761 words) Published: April 1, 2011
The American Freedom

The Civil Rights Movement was an era devoted to activism for equal rights and treatment of African Americans in the United States. During this period, people rallied for social, legal, political and cultural changes to prohibit discrimination and end segregation. Civil rights are defined as "the nonpolitical rights of a citizen; especially those guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress" (Wikipedia). The 13th amendment of the Constitution abolished slavery in the U.S., and the 14th amendment insured African Americans of their legal citizenship and equal protection under the law. According to the book, “Give me Liberty” the freedom movement is defined in part as "a series of organized activities working toward an objective; also: an organized effort to promote or attain an end". (Give Me Liberty)

But this movement came into its existence not overnight or just from one suppressed section of American society. It was a common idea to fight for it. After World War II America came out as a superpower and the world was ready to follow our policies. The African American was migrating out of the south into the newer cities around the country. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) American propaganda against other races was creating racial tensions at home it was about time that America delivered on its word. But during 1950’s, a very less portion of the population was ready to desegregate the country. Slowly and eventually, African Americans start looking at “Separate but equal” as an unjust deal. Many of them had fought in World War II and at that time were given equal rights as other White American soldiers. This showed that the abolishment of slavery did not change the perceptions that allowed discrimination to continue.

Historic roots can be dug to find out crucial events in American history that have had significant effect on development and rise of the Civil Rights movement. Many important events involving discrimination against African Americans proceeded the era known as the Civil Rights Movement. The importation and enslavement of Africans is perhaps the most notorious example of inhumanity in United States history. (Give Me Liberty) In 1808, there was a ban on the import of slaves. The prohibition was in vein because the trade continued. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln officially ended slavery. (Give Me Liberty) However, the proclamation could not directly transform attitudes of many citizens or the legacy of a country that had considered African Americans as less than human. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) In 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was confirmed by the 13th amendment of the Constitution which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude. In 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson established a policy of separate but equal accommodations for African Americans. (Voices Of Freedom, 51) I believe this step was one of the most crucial turning points in the American history as it laid the basis for “nation’s long retreat from the ideal of equal rights for American citizens regardless of race, embodied in the laws and constitutional amendments of Reconstruction.” (Voices Of Freedom, 51) Many historians agree that the Civil Rights Movement occurred between 1955 and 1965, but the exact time span is debated (Wikipedia). There are even some who will argue that the Civil Rights Movement has not ended and that discrimination and efforts to oppose it continue. During the years of 1955 to 1965, many legislative and judicial events emphasized the legality of fair treatment of African Americans. Despite the support of the federal government, these new laws and rulings faced opposition. Many individuals and local governments refused to end discrimination and continued practices of segregation. They found ways to go around the new legislations in their local authorities for years. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) In 1954, the...

Cited: Dr. Brendan Lindsay. HISTORY 146 Lecture Notes. Date Accessed: June 01, 2008.
Give Me Liberty: An American History. Eric Foner. 2005.
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Web site, at . Date Accessed: June 02, 2008.
Wikipedia, at Date Accessed: June 01, 2008
Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. Ed. Eric Foner. 2005. Vol. 2.
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