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Civil Rights Essay, Research Paper

The Bloody Civil Rights

It all began in 1875 when the beginning of Civil Rights in American Society began to take place. With the end of the Cold war, came the question of inequality. Who had the right to run the country? Who made the rules? Who enforced equality and the right of all people?

But in 1883 the climax to the ruling came with the Civil Rights cases. The court ?struck down? the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which had specifically prohibited segregation in public facilities such as hotels, theaters, parks, restaurants and streetcars.

Most blacks at this time neither escaped nor tried to overcome the cold white society. They managed to find other ways to their own economic and social improvement. All of this changed in 1856 when born to slave parents was Booker T. Washington. He worked his way through school and in 1881 founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, a vocational school for blacks. It was there he developed the philosophy that blacks? best hopes for assimilation lay in at least temporarily accommodating whites. One of the things that Washington strived was that ?blacks should work hard, acquire property, and prove they were worthy of their rights. Whites including progressives welcomed Washington?s policy of accommodation, because it urged patience and reminded black people to stay in their place.

Many black leaders took different views and proposed to handle the problem of segregation differently. W.E.B. Du Bois was an outspoken critic of Washington?s famous Atlanta Compromise. Du Bois was both a progressive and a member of the black elite. Although Du Bois treated Washington with respect, he did not want to settle with white domination. Moreover, Du Bois disagreed with disfranchisement as well. Du Bois believed that a carefully chosen, ?intellectual vanguard of cultivated?, highly trained blacks, otherwise given the name the ?Talented Tenth,? would save the race by setting an example to whites and uplifting other blacks. In 1909, Du Bois and his followers formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which aimed to end racial discrimination by pursuing legal redress in the courts, the leadership consisted chiefly of white progressives. The NAACP pushed black to join the the fight for ?world liberty,? in the hope that a war to make the world safe for democracy might also blur the color line at home. (Many politicians did oppose the drafting of African-Americans.) The African-Americans made real advances toward racial equality during their days in World War II. For the first time they were gaining respect and the War Department was even sanctioning the training of black pilots. In 1940, a man by the name of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis was the first African-American to be promoted to brigadier general.

One of the more violent activists of the 1960?s was the leader and chief spokesperson of the black Muslims, Malcolm X. The black Muslims were a group that preached black pride and separatism from white society condemned ?the white devil? as the chief source of all evil in the world. They dissociated themselves from white society, exhorted blacks to lead sober lives and practice thrift, and sanctioned violence in self-defense. His advice was straightforward: ? If someone lays a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.? Malcolm X was murdered in early 1965; the assassins were Black Muslims who thought he had betrayed them and their entire cause. Even after Malcolm X?s death, he portrayed black defiance and self-respect.

Of the many black national groups, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was believed to be the most influential. UNIA was headed by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant who believed blacks should separate from the corrupt white society. Garvey promoted black capitalism as well. W.E.B. Debois was one of the black leaders who didn?t believe in the UNIA.

Many of the other leaders during the Civil Rights movement were Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Rodney King, Jesse Jackson, and among these blacks was another very important leader of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. King was one of the black leaders that completely changed the course of the movement. He was a twenty-six-year-old Baptist minister who was completely devoted to nonviolent peaceful protest. His influential hero was Mahatma Gandhi. Even after his family was constantly threatened and the front of his house was bombed he insisted on following his peaceful ways. He later became the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, organized to coordinate civil rights.

In 1955, Rosa Parks, a department store seamstress and active member of the NAACP, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Many of the local black leaders chose to boycott the cities bus system and then Martin Luther King Jr. was elected as their leader. Here was the beginning of the protest of the series of Jim Crow Laws. These laws struck down the Civil Rights Acts, which prohibited segregation in public facilities. Therefore these Jim Crow laws-multiplied throughout the South, reminding African-Americans everyday of their inferiority to the white race. State and local laws restricted them to the reat of streetcars, to separate drinking fountains and toilets, and to separate sections of hospitals, asylums, and even separating the deceased with the separation of cemeteries.

Much of society at this time was altered by the changing ways of the African-Americans. The whites weren?t ready to give up their throne, while the blacks were not going to stand around and let them demand and torture any longer. The built up anger in both of the races (especially the blacks) was what made the fifty?s and sixties such a bumpy ride. Through and through the blacks stuck to their hope of the future and the future of their family and after much pain and suffering they are finally reaching their goal of equality. Even though society has a lot of work until everyone is equal and racism is no longer an issue, the African-Americans of today have earned the respect and honor of their ancestors, children, society and the history books for their grandchildren to read upon in years to come.

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