African-American Civil Rights Struggle Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2904 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] And more than that this was regardless of skin color or ethnicity so that once the war ended and people returned home, there was less tension between the two and there was also this awakening of the realization that the blacks were being discriminated against unfairly. Moreover, as there was a shortage of labor and there was plentiful employment due to the fact that reconstruction had to be done, additionally the industry was growing due to the European demand for goods and services which was being supplied by America as Europe was left worse off in the wake of the war.

The American Civil Rights Movement

This was what led to the awakening of a nation that was for centuries enslaved and used as forced and unpaid labor, often treated inhumanely by the powerful few. Eventually with the realization and economic empowerment at the end of WW1, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. (Borgna & Haney, 2007) This was the association that started the lobby for African-American rights through seeking to end racial discrimination, and through its work was trying to instill in the politicians the realization that the laws for minorities were inadequate in the rights that they granted to them.

They were the members of this association who organized a collective struggle backed by the ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 in which it was declared that separate educational systems for whites and blacks were unconstitutional and hence illegal. This was the ruling which expedited this decade's long struggle and was used as the thread that linked provision of other rights to the African-American Community. (Cozzens, 1998)

But again this was just a judicial decision and socially it was taken very resentfully. Again as far as the belligerent Southern states were concerned, blacks were being disenfranchised and there were still restriction on their voting rights, as blacks were subjected to rigorous tests and hurdles which were tough to clear and hence many of the blacks were unable to register as voter. Now this would have been fair, had the same been applicable to the whites, but it was not, which is the reason why there was very little political representation of the black community. This of course had its repercussions as this meant that the voice of this minority community could not be heard.

Rosa Parks

The much popularized incident of Rosa Parks occurred in 1955 which brought into limelight the human rights conditions in USA, one of the most powerful nations at the time. Rosa Parks, a black seamstress and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was returning from work on a bus. She went against the conventions and brought the wrath of the whites upon herself when she refused to give up her seat for a white and in return for her insistence and rebellion against norms got arrested. This was the last straw for the community which was looking for an outlet from which to start their protests. (Chappell, 2006)

The day after Rosa was arrested the black community went on strike, boycotting bus services. Moreover church ministers and civil rights leaders also got involved and in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. A 'miracle had taken place' when the buses passed by empty the next day. The church played an active role in this and The Rev. Fred L. Shuttles worth played an important role in motivating the people forward by supporting the blacks and fearlessly defending their rights, surviving bombing and murder attempts. (Reeves, 2011)

It was due to the success with the boycott that the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) with Martin Luther King Jr. As the head. The boycott was decided to be continued from a day till the time their demands were met. Even though there were many attacks on the blacks and the segregationists tried their best to discourage the blacks, the battle was won legally and 381 days later the community returned to the buses.

1957 saw King and some of his associates set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which served to help fight discrimination in the south. It was through his emotional speeches as an activist for this that King became a beacon for the true freedom of the Blacks. (Cozzens, 1998)

Other measures

The community then tacked other issues of their social lives which included their demands for being served from the same counter. The first one occurred in 1960 at a Woolworth's lunch counter. This incident was widely reported by media channels so that more sit-ins were carried out.

1961 saw freedom rides in which people went in buses to the south. These buses were attacked and were not allowed to reach their destinations by the white who even resorted to violence and bombings. While none of the buses reached their destinations, they helped in getting the limelight and initiated political reforms such as the Interstate Commerce Commission which prohibited segregation in interstate buses and was signed by Robert Kennedy. (Arsenault, 2006)

The violent resistance from whites continued and culminated in a depraved action which was an attack on children from high schools in Birmingham who were asked to march for desegregation. The police had them attacked these innocent children by sending dogs after them and hosing them with fire hoses resulting in severe injuries. And this was the last straw even for the public who saw the pictures in the newspapers, and garnered public sympathy for the non-violent movement of the rights. They began to understand the unfairness of the laws so that President Kennedy was forced to take more stringent measures. Even then the community faced attacks from the Ku Klux Klan which took responsibility for the bombing of the Baptist Church in Birmingham. (Borgna & Haney, 2007)

Civil Rights Act 1964

After the assassination of President Kennedy, who had taken measures to pacify the Black community and to provide them their rights, President Johnson took over in 1964. Fortunately he decided to continue the mission and worked with the congress using his lobbying tactics in order to have the bill passed. This is how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was implemented.

Conclusion

The passing of the act ended a long, legal struggle against segregation, discrimination, and isolation so that today, the movement has become a pinnacle of achievement for the African-American community. It stands as a shining example of a movement that was sired by a deprived community that refused to give up. Even though the community has won the battle legally, it still is fighting for equality and tolerance of racial differences socially. (Levy, 1998 )

The movement serves also as an example of how humanity can sometimes forget generosity and tolerance and how they can get carried away in persecuting those who are weaker. But when the oppressed refuse to be treated as slaves any longer and collectively resort to achieve their goals with the help of able and sincere leaders such as King and Shuttles worth (Reeves, 2011) there is no power in the universe that can stop them from achieving their objectives.

References

Arsenault, R. (2006). Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Borgna, B., & Haney, E. (2007). Civil Rights Timeline. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www.infoplease.com/spot/civilrightstimeline1.html

Boxer, A. (2011). Civil Rights -- The International Dimension. History Review, (70), 21-26. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Chappell, K. (2006, January). Remembering Rosa Parks. Ebony, pp. 126-134.

Cozzens, L. (1998, May 25). Brown v. Board of Education. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from African-American History: http://fledge.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/early-civilrights/brown.html

Cozzens, L. (1998, May 25). The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from African-American History: http://fledge.watson.org/~lisa/

Isaac, L. (2008). Movement of Movements: Culture Moves in the Long Civil Rights struggle. Social Forces, 87(1), 33-63. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Kelly, M. (n.d.). Civil War - History of the Civil War. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/Civil_War.htm

Kelly, M. (n.d.). Reconstruction. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://americanhistory.about.com/od/reconstruction/a/Reconstruction.htm

Kirk, J. (2009). The Long Road to Equality. History Today, 59(2), 52-58. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Krochmal, M. (2010). An Unmistakably Working-Class Vision: Birmingham's Foot Soldiers and Their Civil Rights Movement. Journal of Southern History, 76(4), 923-960. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Levy, P.B. (1998 ). The Civil Rights Movement. Westport: Greenwood Publishing… [END OF PREVIEW]

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