African American History - Essay Example

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Wolff notes that African Americans have come a long way to be where they are today (par. 1). They have had to overcome many challenges, including racial discrimination, segregation, political and economic injustice mated on them by their white counterparts…
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African American History Wolff s that African Americans have come a long way to be where they are today (par They have had to overcome manychallenges, including racial discrimination, segregation, political and economic injustice mated on them by their white counterparts. There rights and status were very much under attack in the 1890s. In spite of the fact that the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments seemed to provide fundamental social and political freedom to every citizen in the country, Black Americans remained marginalized and disenfranchised by the white politicians. Wolff reveals that South Carolina became the first state to disenfranchise African Americans by denying them the right to vote and take part in politics (par. 3). In fact, all the gained made during the 1877 Reconstruction had disappeared by 1890s. By this time, racial segregation was the order of the day. In fact, no one thought that brining the two races together politically, economically, or socially would be possible. At this time, racial violence was rife throughout the country. In the 1890s, racial segregation as established by the Jim Crow laws appeared in almost every part of the country. The racial segregation resulted in the lynching on many African Americans by the white. History shows that, at national level, the Plessy v. Ferguson case revealed the commitment to maintain the status quo of race segregation. Wolff observed that, during this time, a group of civil right activist disgusted by the increasing restrictions of Black Americans in public places deliberately placed Plessy on a train in order to trigger an even that result in a legal battle to attack restrictions that bar African Americans from using trains as a mode of transport (par. 5). This strategy proved successful resulting in a legal case filed in the Supreme Court 1896. Despite the increased clamor for civil rights by African Americas, Booker T. Washington had a different thought. In his Atlanta Exposition Address" before a mammoth a biracial audience, Washington advocated a policy of compromise and accommodation of racial matters, persuading African Americans to pursue vocational training and employment in industries instead of legal and political action. Soon after the pronouncement, the judges hearing the case ruled in accordance with Washington’s pronouncements maintaining that equal the segregation laws that allows for separate but equal accommodations for different races in railroad passengers conformed to the 14th amendment. Justice Brown was of the opinion that legislation cannot be used to solve social prejudice (par. 16). Brown went ahead to state that the two races cannot be brought to terms with regard to social equality by natural affinities, voluntary agreements of the antagonists and through mutual respect of each other. Based on the decision of the Supreme Court, it can strongly be argued that Washington’s pronouncements did influence their ruling in a big way. This is evident from the fact that both the court and Washington and the Supreme Court were of the opinion that legal and social justice cannot help in solving racial differences in the country. Instead, both the Supreme Court and Washington were of the feeling that African Americans should pursuing economic empowerment and education to prove their worth to the whites. Washington believed by Africans were better placed to gain social and economic equality by getting better education and training, as well as attaining economic empowerment through by working in industries (Wolff par. 19). In fact, Washington went ahead to state that, as soon as the whites would see black Americans become productive members of society, equality which they are yarning for through political and legal action would naturally follow. This pronouncement concurs with that made by Justice Brown when he stated that social equality between the two races would only come through natural affinities, voluntary consent, and mutual respect for each other. Based on this same pronouncements, it can be argued that the Washington’s pronouncements during the Atlanta Exposition Address did soothe the consciousness of the justices of the Supreme Court in a bid way in legitimizing the Jim Crow segregation law in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. However, it can also be argued that the statement was partly true since not all the justices hearing the case were appeased by Washington’s pronouncement. This becomes evident from the fact that Justice Harlan dissented the ruling made by the seven other judges that ruled against Plessy. According to Justice Harlan, justice race should not be used in service justice maintaining that the legitimization of separate but equal violates an individual’s personal freedom by legally forcing division (par. 23). Justice Harlan gaudily stated that the presence of only eight million African Americans could not endanger over sixty million whites maintaining that the destiny of blacks and whites are linked together. Therefore, a law legitimizing racial segregation could not be allowed any longer. In this regard, it becomes apparent that, whereas Washington’s pronouncements appeared to have sooth the several justices in legitimizing the segregation law, it did not appease Justice Harlan. In conclusion, it becomes apparent that Booker T. Washington’s pronouncement appeased a majority o the Justices to the Supreme Court in making a ruling that legitimized Jim Crow law of segregation but not all since justice Harlan was not persuaded by his pronouncement at all. Work Cited Wolff, Karen. From Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education: The Supreme Court Rules on School Desegregation. 2013. Web. 28 Nov. 2013 Read More
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