Civil Rights - Essay Example

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The Civil Rights Movement Instructor name Date In 1955 Rosa Parks earned a special position in American history as the mother of the modern Civil Rights Movement. Parks, a black woman, refused to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery Alabama city bus which violated Jim Crow laws existing in the southern states at that time…
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Civil Rights
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Download file to see previous pages During the 1950’s racism was and had been fervent and widespread throughout the South. Laws that required racially segregated seating on city busses were enacted due to solely to racial prejudice. Most city bus lines in the South were operated by private companies at that time and the owners of these transport systems had no financial motive to require segregation. The bus line owners and drivers may have been racists themselves but their business was dependent on passengers and they would lose money by alienating black patrons, a major segment of their customer base. The government, today generally regarded as a body that resolves social inequalities, created this discriminatory practice to begin with. Politics initiated legal racial segregation. The social forces that motivate political practices are vastly different from motives that steer economic practices. Jim Crow laws were designed to, among other oppressive tactics; disenfranchise black voters to ensure only white persons opinions counted in the political process. A preponderance of racially biased whites was not required to legally mandate segregation of the races. Even if only a minority of white voters desired segregation while those opposed or ambivalent didn’t voice their opinion on the matter, which was more often than not the case, this was sufficient political power because the opinion of black voters were of no consequence because they had effectively lost their ability to vote. The political motivations were in conflict with economic interests. Owners of private transportation companies in the South lobbied in resistance during the formation of racially biased Jim Crow laws, made numerous court challenges after theses laws were passed and developed delaying tactics while trying to disregard enforcing segregation laws for several years. Bus drivers were routinely arrested for not enforcing these laws and the president of at least one streetcar company was threatened with jail time if he persisted in not following the law. However, transit company owners were not motivated because they were forward-thinking advocates of civil rights. This resistance “was based on a fear of losing money if racial segregation caused black customers to use public transportation less often than they would have in the absence of this affront” (Sowell, 2005). During the Jim Crow era, segregation of the races was hardly limited to areas of transportation. Hospitals in Alabama, whether private or public, could not force a white nurse to provide care for black patients. In Mississippi, freedom of the press was compromised by a law stating, “Any person who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both” (Cozzens, 1998). The question of segregation became an openly debated issue during the Second World War. The country claiming to be the symbol of freedom, an example for the world to follow, sent its soldiers to fight and die in a noble cause to make others safe from oppression and to promote ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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