For what reasons and with what success did black Americans fight for their Civil Rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s Essay Sample
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For what reasons and with what success did black Americans fight for their Civil Rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s Essay Sample
The Black people came to be living in America because most of them came over from Africa and India on slave ships, ready to be sold when they arrived, as slaves for the American white people. The slave trade was very popular, and blacks were brought over from places like Africa, and India, and then sold in America as slaves. The slaves were then given rights, and ‘set free’ so that they could lead their own lives and not be under anyone’s control, and owned. In America, the black people had long term and background grievances that were day to day prejudice and discrimination.
There were little things such as in the south the blacks were treated no better than the slaves. The blacks in America were not allowed to live their own lives, they wanted, like all humans to have the chance to live happy and fulfilled lives, and have some of the things that the white people have. In some places in America the black people were not even regarding as being humans. They were treated like animals, and this was extremely racist. A source that supports this view is source E. Source E is ‘A statement from a book, called American Dreams Lost and Found by S.
Terkel’ Vernon Jarrett is saying that his dad was seventy nine, and a white man had never called him ‘mister’ more than four or five times. His mother had been called ‘girl’, and ‘nigger’ and ‘auntie’. This supports the cause of long term grievances. Another source that does support this is source F, but it is not as useful as source E, to support this cause. Source F is a Florida barber speaking in ‘change and continuity in twentieth century America’ by J. A. Braeman, 1968. The barber says what the black people are good for, and these are things like, ‘ shinin’ shoes, bell hoppin’, street sweepin’ and these are just a few that he mentions.
This shows that in the south it is worse, because the black people are just used to do these jobs. There were also specific problems, these were mainly in the south but they did exist in the north in some cases as well. Some of these problems were that blacks had inequalities in education, so they had little chance of competing for better jobs and opportunities. Sources that support this are sources B & D. B is about a school in Little Rock, Arkansas. The president wanted it to integrate, the black and the white children, and the state governor refused.
So Eisenhower sent 10000 national guardsmen and 1000 paratroopers to make sure that these children got a proper education. D is a statement from the US Supreme Court, stating the law that it was illegal for any state schools to be white only. Most southern states found ways to dodge this though and kept their all white schools. As well as these sources there is the case of Louise Brown, who was refused entry into a white school. Also, the case of Elizabeth Eckford, who was jeered and threatened when she tried to go to a white school.
Another specific problem was that blacks were only allowed to do poorly paid and manual jobs with no prospects. Some sources that support this are sources F and J. Source F is again the Florida barber, describing the occupations that blacks are allowed to do, and source J is the statistics of black male unemployment against national unemployment. This shows that black males are more unemployed than the national figure for all the people in the USA, and this doesn’t change. Another specific problem was that there was inequality before the law and little protection from it.
Sources that support this are B & D again, and the fact that lynching still sometimes happened. Denial of their democratic right to vote was also another problem. A source that supports this is source G. Source G us another law from the Congress, called the civil rights act, to try and make sure that the blacks could vote. Southern whites found ways to stop it working. They passed the grandfather clause. This was that if you had a grandfather that was a slave then you could not vote, which meant that most blacks didn’t actually get to vote anyway.
They also said that in order to vote you had to be literate, and then when blacks come to do the test that enabled them to vote, they might give them something that was in Chinese or Japanese to read, and white people would get something from a children’s book, so that only the white people could vote. One more specific problem was that Jim Crow laws separated blacks from whites in public places. For example, blacks and whites had different toilets, lunch counters, and buses. A source that supports this is source C.
Source C talks about when Martin Luther King boycotted the buses in protest of a black woman that had been prosecuted for sitting where a white person should have sat on the bus. This ended when President Kennedy made the buses integrated and whites and blacks agreed to this. A case that supports this argument is also the case of Rosa Parks who refused to get up of her seat when a white man got on the bus. There are more recent events that caused the civil rights movement to gain momentum in the 1950’s and 1960’s. An explanation for this is WWII.
A source that supports this is source A which shows that after the war, the law was changed to make any discrimination illegal. Also, when black people were coming back from Europe after fighting, they saw in Europe that the blacks were treated much better, and weren’t made to use separate buses, or toilets or anything like that, they were equal. So when they returned to America, they wanted what the black people in Europe have. Martin Luther King was another person that caused the civil rights movement to gain momentum in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
He was an educated leader who was prepared to fight for civil rights and as we saw in source C, Martin Luther King led a boycott on the buses in Montgomery, Alabama. He did this because a woman was prosecuted for not giving up her seat on the bus for a white man. Independence and democracy for colonial countries elsewhere in the world, was another reason why the civil rights movement gained momentum at that time. An example of this was Britain, giving colonies independence in places like India, where they had been previously governed by Britain.
Now those colonies had their own leaders, and independence. Therefore, there are plenty of reasons why the blacks should fight for their civil rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The next section of they essay looks at the success that the black people had in their fight for equal rights, and fair treatment, both by the law and by the American people. I think success in this case should be that black people were more and more accepted into society, and that they were on their way to achieving equality before the law, and in society itself.
There were various laws passed to help this, and in 1983-84 Jesse Jackson, became the first black person to make a realistic bid to become president of the United States. One thing that would suggest success, was that black people were allowed to sit anywhere on public buses. The Supreme Court in America declared that all state laws in Alabama on segregation on buses were unconstitutional. This decision followed a year of a boycott on the buses of Montgomery, Alabama, which was lead by Martin Luther King.
This was where the black people refused to use the bus services, and seeing as the black people were the ones that used the buses more often than anyone else, the bus company lost a lot of money. The civil rights act banned the segregation, and a month after it was passed, the bus company gave in, and black people could ride the buses, and sit wherever they wanted to. Another thing that would suggest success was that black people where allowed to go to white schools. This was seen in the case of Louise Brown.
Her parents wanted her to go to an all white school, and she was not allowed, even though it was the nearest school. Her parents hired a lawyer called Thurgood Marshall, and he took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. They ruled that Louise could go to the all white school. Black people were pleased at this. Another case was James Meredith, a southern Negro who had all the qualifications to go to the University of Mississippi. The governor offered him a place after years of campaigning, but when James turned up to go to class, the governor himself held James back and would not let him in.
The president of the USA sent in helicopters and transport planes to get James Meredith to class, and he managed to get to all his classes, but had to have a federal marshal with him all the time to protect him. The civil rights act once again gave the president power to withhold government money from schools in the Deep South that did not abide by its laws about segregation.
Blacks were also allowed the right to have the same facilities which are open to the public. This was shown in President Kennedy’s speech, as it states in the text ‘… iving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public – hotels, restaurants, theatres, retail stores, and similar establishments. ‘ Congress then passed the civil rights act on June 19th, 1964, which saw the change in the law, which all Americans could do what the president had promised. Martin Luther King getting a Nobel Prize for peace was also a great success for black people in America. His work for the black people of America was recognised all around the world and respected for his work too.
He also achieved a change in the law by peaceful protest, which hadn’t been done before. He led one of the biggest protests in American history when some of the governors of the United States said that they would fight the civil rights bill all the way. On 20 August 1963 nearly 500,000 people marched into Washington and gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King, there gave his most famous speech of all. This could also be seen as a success, as such a big, strong movement was led by a black man.
The biggest success for the black people was that President Kennedy passed the civil rights act which made all forms of racial discrimination illegal. This saw a change in the way the black people in America lived, as now they now could vote, had equal chance of employment at all levels, no discrimination against them in public places and facilities. So whereas before, black people had separate toilets, separate lunch counters, and certain seats on the bus that they could sit on, and they immediately tested these powers.
Jesse Jackson was realistically the first black man who ran for president, and had a good chance. Although he did not get to be the Democratic Party candidate his supporters got millions of southern blacks to register for the first time. During his campaign, he made a lot of valid points that unemployment and poverty were still higher amongst blacks. Although there was a reasonable amount of success there was evidence in the source that suggested that success was limited. One of these things was that black people still didn’t get good jobs after the civil rights act.
In one source, it states that ‘the majority of blacks remained in the inner cities and were twice as likely as whites to be unemployed and three times as likely to be low paid. ‘ This could be seen as a limiting factor on success, because although the civil rights act said that this should not happen, it still did. Black people in America nowadays, still aren’t regarded as part of America. This was seen by observers of the OJ Simpson’s acquittal in press reports that emphasised the gulf between white and black people in the United States. The source states that ‘Many observers of American Society still talk of “two nations”.
This is present still, even though African-American people constitute almost 13% of the population, despite the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. Another limiting factor on success was that big businesses were controlled by whites for the benefit of the white people, for example, banks refused to lend money to people living inn ‘black’ areas. There was a move towards affirmative action, where a certain proportion of black or other disadvantaged groups of people had to be employed in big businesses, even if they were less qualified than other applicants.
However, there is still evidence today to suggest that black Americans are worse off than whites. William Moore, a white postman, was shot because he was campaigning for civil rights. He started a walk across the south to do this. One day he was shot, probably by the Ku Klux Klan. Thousands of protestors carried on the walk. This could be seen as a limiting factor on success because, this man was shot and killed because he was speaking up for what he believed in.
So in effect, the black people did campaign successfully for their freedom, and the rights that they were entitled to, and thanks to the civil rights act of 1964 and 1965. They were successful to a certain extent, but there is still evidence to suggest that blacks, even today, are not equally treated in America and there were factors described above that would suggest that success was limited. There is still today, a long way to go before the black people of America can be treated equally with the white people.