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Civil Rights - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Task Date The Civil Rights Movement refers to the struggle on American soil whose objective was to fight segregation against the African Americans. There was racial indignity, and more so, there was no freedom from oppression that the white Americans directed towards their black counterparts…
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Task The Civil Rights Movement refers to the struggle on American soil whose objective was to fight segregation against the African Americans. There was racial indignity, and more so, there was no freedom from oppression that the white Americans directed towards their black counterparts. There were massive campaigns of civil resistance from the black population in America. At some point in the 1950s and 1960s, nonviolent protests and open acts of civil disobedience initiated disagreements between activists in the civil movement and the American government. The Civil Rights Movement employed strategies such as boycotts like the 1955-1956 Bus boycott in Montgomery that lasted for 382 days. This boycott led the American Supreme Court to declare the laws supporting segregation in buses as unconstitutional. This cemented way for impartiality among the whites and the blacks when accessing bus services. Organizers of this boycott included Martin Luther King Jr, who was arrested and subjected to abuse and his home barraged. He however remained a first rank leader in the civil rights movement (Bass, 2001). There were other tactics used by the civil rights activists that included sit-ins, protest marches and other nonviolent activities. It is important to note that initially, a number of civil rights activists subscribed to different ideologies in the civil rights movement. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr adopted Christian based ideologies when he clinched the presidency of the Southern Christian Conference on Leadership. Martin was also a staunch Christian born in a Christian family and at one time pursued theological studies at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In his civil rights speeches and lectures, he advocated for use of nonviolence measures and the need for black integration into the White dominated society. This is different to what activists such as Malcolm X stood for and believed. Malcolm was a Black Muslim who was radical at the beginning of his civil rights struggle. He initially challenged the nonviolent approach used by other civil rights activists that included Martin Luther King Jr. He also challenged the integrationist aim pursued by Martin’s followers and civil rights colleagues.He was a follower of the Nation of Islam, a group that he had joined when he was imprisoned in 1946. The Muslim separatist ideology, synonymous with the Nation of Islam, and which Malcolm subscribed to, was seen as radically extreme Not only did it challenge black integration into the white society pursued by the Martin Luther-led civil rights activists, it also viewed the white people in America as devil’s advocates created to harm the black population in America. A few years before his death, Malcolm reconsidered his radical beliefs and embraced the ideas followed by Martin Luther and his Civil Rights Movement: the idea to pursue equality through nonviolent means and the need for integration of black people into the White-dominated society. Strategies employed by civil rights activists and their followers yielded legislative and judicial reforms that ruled against segregation of the blacks by the white population. For instance, the Civil Rights Act (1964) was passed by the American senate and it banned segregation based on cilor, race, religion, or national origin in public accommodations and employment practices. There was also the 1965 Voting Rights Act that ensured protection of voting rights including those of the black people. There was also the fair Housing Act (1968) that prohibited segregation in the rental or sale of housing units. A positive result of the Civil Rights Struggle was the entrance of Afro-American people into politics of the south. Seeking legal redress by the Civil rights activists was seen as a futile exercise in a society dominated by White Americans, often seen to hold influential positions in the American system at the time. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (founded in 1909) broke this trend and sought several legal actions in the Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the Civil Rights activists in the legal case that sought to end racial segregation in buses (This was after the 382-day long bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama). In another landmark case involving the association, the Supreme Court rejected the separate colored and white schools system. It was a case pitying a Mr. Brown against the Board of Education. This was ruling was made in 1954 and it implied that the “separate but equal” philosophy governing school systems was not applicable any more. A look at the ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ written by Martin Luther King Jr reveals that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that Martin headed as president was an organization that operated in every state in the south and its headquarters were in Atlanta, Georgia (Bass, 2001). Birmingham is manifested in this letter as a city full of segregation towards the black community: police are brutal, unresolved bombings targeting Negroe homes, churches and businesses. He defended the nonviolent actions saying that they seek to develop a crisis and establish tension such that a community that has ignored negotiations is forced to counter the issue. Nonviolent action seeks to blow up the issue such that it cannot be ignored any longer. Nonviolent tension is therefore necessary for advancement and growth. It is true that much of the advances made in the civil rights struggle came through the federal courts. This does not mean that local organizations and individuals did not play an important role in the struggle. The dreams of these influential civil rights activists were dreams of equality and the complete realization of these dreams was the enactment of legislative laws that would safeguard the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement (Bass, 2001). This would also call for courts to determine there rulings in a fair and impartial manner and not dishing out rulings based on segregation. Courts also reviewed and overturned segregational rulings that had been made earlier with the aim to reconstruct public image in and outside America. As Luther puts it in the Letter from Birmingham Jail, even a section of the church through the White preachers hindered the civil rights movement. He regrets to note that white church ministers, rabbis and priests in the south ignored to understand the civil rights movement as well as misrepresenting the rights movement’s leaders. He accuses numerous religious leaders in the south of calling upon their congregations to adhere to the desegregation stand because it is based on the law, thus, the white opposition did try to hinder the civil rights movement but eventually failed to contain the pressure emanating from both internal and external sources. Reference Bass, S. Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001. Read More
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