Ronak Patel March 9, 2009US History AdvancedBlock 7
Black History Month Essay
The black experience in America is truly unique – it has no real parallel. Although African-Americas are one of the most unique races in America, they are also some of the least foreign of allcitizens, due to their forceful adoption of American culture in replace of their own. Although this runs back many hundreds of years ago, it still leaves profound traces on African-Americans to today. Theyshare a very rich experience and colorful memories. Perhaps it is true that blacks have faced and struggledwith challenges unfamiliar to any of us today. The most obvious challenge that these people faced wasdiscrimination and segregation from the rest of society. Often thought as the inferior race for manycenturies, this crushing pressure definitely had serious impacts on them – as it would for anyone who hadto deal with such deep racism. Another obstacle blacks were faced with was unjust laws and inequality.Even after documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were signed, promisingequal rights and liberties to all men, blacks were not included in the definition of “men.” Rights that weregranted to whites were restricted to blacks; freedoms provided to whites were barred from blacks;liberties given to whites did not pertain to the black man. This led to frustration and mental stress, whichsometimes proved to be too much to handle. No man – white or black – should be placed under thistremendous stress and pressure.
The Great Debaters
illustrated the black experience, by depicting themany challenges blacks were faced with in their daily struggles.Discrimination against blacks was incredibly common throughout American society. It was sodeep that white adults taught their kids to tart hating blacks as soon as they were born. Kids should not beentangled in such hate issues, yet parents forced the false idea of the black inferiority into their children’smind. This can be seen in
The Great Debaters
when the white kids intentionally throw their father’s piginto the road when they saw the Farmer’s car coming down the road. It’s absolutely horrible that thesekids – not even teenagers yet – could commit such a deed. Dr. Farmer was forced to give up his paycheck to compensate for the loss of the pig. When the mob of white men see Mr. Tolsen’s car come, theyhesitate. After recognizing that he was black, the crowd rushed after them, attempting to attack theinnocent blacks inside. Hate is the principle cause for all the bad things that happen in this world, whether it be petty crime or warfare. It saddens me to see how blacks were so deeply resented for absolutely noreason at all. They had never done anything to harm American society, or to inflict damage on any one particular man. Yet, discrimination sometimes ran so deep, as to cause bloodshed and violence. Blackshad to face loads of racism and discrimination, which has left a huge scar on the African-Americancommunity.Although the Declaration of Independence promised equality for every man, the definition of man was very obscure. “Man” did not include blacks, women, or other minority groups. How can the
Although tens and thousands of African American essays dedicated to the history of the civil rights movement have already been written, this topic will never lose its relevance. The history of African Americans enslavement, freedom fighting and liberation is simultaneously both everlasting admonishment of human injustice, narrow-mindedness and cruelty and undying monument of bravery, power of will and spiritual strength of the large ethnic group that literally changed the whole world in their struggle to take the decent place in the society. So let us have a look at the African American History from the age of slavery to inauguration of the first black President of United States.
African American History. From Slave Labor to President Chair
Martin Luther King Junior once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. With the benefit of hindsight, we can certainly say that injustice, repression and fear were exactly those words that followed African Americans hand by hand throughout the long centuries of fighting for civil rights and liberties. Although the history of African Americans establishment as meaningful members of society had been long and full of bloodshed, the decades of desperate struggle for justice and liberty were fully rewarded for the African American civil rights movement is a rare example of conservative society admitting and apologizing for its mistakes. After the long and rough way, the African Americans managed to make the whole world listen to them, recognize that they do exist and let them take their place in society.
The Age of Slavery
Now, let us go back to XVII, when the British Government imported the first African slaves to the New World. Although from our modern point of view, the slavery is totally unacceptable and shocking phenomenon, in 1713 England officially legalized the slave trade. This period may be considered as starting point of tragic African American history in the slavery age. The people were caught, bought, sold, locked in the cargo holds and forcedly brought to America. Famous philosopher and sociologist Karl Marx called the events of that age “the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins” and he was more than correct. The historic evidences state that by 1830, almost 5 million of 13 million American population (more than one third) had been the slaves.
Civil War and Emancipation
The Civil War has become the turning point in African American history launching the gears of freedom fighting machine. However, the African Americans were not just the passive recipients of freedom gift. Black soldiers fought in the Union Army on the Civil War battlefields, the slaves on South committed risky attempts to cross the frontline and escape into Union lines. Finally, on January 1st, 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the executive order known as Emancipation Proclamation changing the legal status of more than three millions of slaves to ‘free people’. However, although this being a large step forward towards the liberation and equity, the African Americans still had a great way to go to overcome the racial prejudgment and achieve their final goal of freedom and equal treatment. The so called ‘contraband camps’ established by Union Army for fugitive slaves from the South still employed the refugee slaves in military and physical labor, and their name itself were the flagrant misnomer posing the people as ‘confiscated enemy property’.
Civil Rights Movement of 1950-1970s
The 1950s have become the reference point for new life for African American citizens in USA. In 1954, the Supreme Court of United States banned the separate education in schools. And a year after that, in 1955, the black civil rights activists led by young Baptist minister Martin Luther King Junior achieved the prohibition of segregation in public vehicles at the legislative level. For many decades, American laws had not allowed the black people to take the seats in the first four rows of the bus, as those seats had been intended for the white part of population, and obliged the African Americans to give up their seats to the white passengers, if all the ’white seats’ were already occupied.
The major Africa American protest was triggered on the first day of December 1955, when Rosa Parks (who was later called “The Mother of Freedom Movement” and “The First Lady of Civil Rights” by US Congress), African American activist from Alabama, refused to give up her seat in the ‘black section’ to the white passenger, for which she was immediately arrested and imposed with penalty. African Americans riding the same bus were not able to tolerate such over-the-top injustice and announced the campaign also known as Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The few black car owners drove the protesters to work and back home, but most were forced to walk by foot. This boycott, which lasted for almost a year, united all the black community in a single strive for civil rights and equity. Despite the multiple threats from authorities and KKK racists, the Boycott participants adopted the ‘do-or-die’ position. Finally, the Supreme Court of United States passed a judgement prohibiting the public vehicle segregation.
Although the satisfaction of black protesters’ demands was followed by the long string of threats and violence, it was one of earliest major victories in the history of African American civil rights movement.
The Culture of Freedom Fighting
Despite all the twists and turns on the way towards the free life, the African Americas gave this world many gifted musicians, writers, artists, scientists, sportsmen, politicians and other eminent personalities. Although this is an essay on African American history rather than African American culture essay, it’s impossible not to mention the unique cultural contribution made by the African American freedom fighters into the world’s heritage, such as, for example, Spiritual Music, or simply Spirituals – the Christian hymns created by black slaves in America.
In conclusion I'd like to say that that the history of African American civil rights movement is a unique example of people preserving the hope, when all the hope seemed to be gone, people being brave enough to rebel, when the whole society was against them, people, who although being in minority, changed the whole world they lived in and made it a better place.
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