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Russel Brokers’ main argument in The American Civil Rights Movement, 1865-1950: Black Agency and People of Good Will concerned ‘people of good will’ black and white individuals who acted in African Americans’ interests regardless of their motives. He states that during the Civil Rights Movement people of both races had gotten involved with groups such as NAACP and Black Panthers. While the NAACP were more civil in gaining racial equality, it was the Panthers who had tried to forcibly gain that equality. Due to the Jim Crow Laws in the South, attacks on black people had occurred and were many victims were killed. Those that were found in parks, or on trains were beaten to the point of death, or until they were victims of murder. Acts like “Nigger Hunts” and “Racial Cleansings” had taken place at night and took heavy tolls on black lives. Groups had begun to revolt against these attacks, as well as against the police brutality that occasionally took place within the cities. The Black Panther party had been formed and was the main concern now to the people, as they would fight back, and didn’t hold back any property damage.
Riots and other casualties had taken place as opposing parties such as the KKK had been lynching multiple African Americans and were terrorizing their neighborhoods. And with the Jim Crow Laws in the south, it only made matters worse. People were kept in segregated locales that were consistently attacked by white people that had enforced the Jim Crow Laws on these people and were lowering morale for those that had fought against this kind of oppression. Riots lead by leaders formed in urban areas, tamed and harmless riots, but police brutality was the end result in many cases.
In 1950 America, the Southern Jim Crow rule was in power for several decades as it had followed the slavery act that had been a part of American life. This was just another form of White Superiority within the southern part of the country. The type of control that Jim Crow Laws would have over the “inferior race” would be politically, socially, and economically. Putting them at the bottom of the food chain within the south, keeping them by force at the end of the line of power. It gave them minimal, if any, power over the cities, but because they were a minority group, their influence on the south was just too little to be impactful. Because of this lack of power and control over the urban and rural south; the African Americans that had remained in the south had been sharecroppers and hired farm hands, which had exploited their low-standing in the economic system. They had been humiliated with little effort by the “superior race” as they were – at the time – within the lowest standing point of the country.
In regard to where violence had taken place, it was mostly everywhere that the Afro-Americans could have been found. Busses were bombed or burned, churches were burned, schools were targeted places by the white kids, train stations were unsafe since blacks were commonly attacked there. Restaurants were burned if they serviced black people, and parks were targeted by various anti-black people. The streets at night were where most black people had been harassed, no matter their gender or age. Police would take many to jails and beat them there, shamelessly. However, this did not stop the riots altogether. The resilience of those black people had kept them pushing in their belief for freedom and to be rid with all the prejudice held against them. Groups like the NAACP and Black Panther Party were made in attempt to represent the black people. Although, what stood out the most was how there were whites that had joined these parties and gave aid to them.
Pushing towards the 1940s, lynching and “Negro Hunting” had still occurred but was slowly dying off. However, the acts of racism were not, and all gotten perhaps slightly worse after World War I. Coming to World War II though, it was a different perspective towards the Afro-American people. Afro-American Veterans from WWII had stood up against the racism, standing up for their fellow people who were suffering to the whites, giving them a sense of equality. Sadly though, it was not so easily remedied. Fear stayed in the hearts of many black people, as even the veterans had suffered segregation during the war. At this time, segregation was never so clear to the black people, so that they had finally decided to silently protest it. Riding on the buses, trains and sitting wherever they chose in various places – cautiously being aware that they could be attacked by whites and waiting to be moved by conductors, drivers, and inevitably the police.
In Upon This Rock: The Black Church, Nonviolence, and the Civil Rights Movement, Allison Calhoun-Brown states that Churches have traditionally been viewed as places of stability and strength in the African-American community. The institution of all the racism and oppression against colored people, as seen through the eyes of the black people, were the white churches. As is their own belief through their own churches, the preachers had thought that it was the influence of what is being preached by the religious leaders in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Seeing the colored people as inferior, and their own kind as superior, that not all men were created equal. This and more were thought out by what could be taught in the black churches which had been where most of their education and spirituality had been from. It was all they had to their culture, and it was thought to be their sanctuary, their place of safety and protection from all threats of the outside world. The black churches had been united to fight against the apparent threat of racism, segregation, and limiting civil liberties and rights that all men should have as American citizens. By being such a mainstream part of the civil rights movement, as well as their help with the civil rights activists, black churches had been deeply involved throughout the years that had passed.
Thomas A. Mulhall states in Making All Things New: Martin Luther King Jr, the 1968 Civil Rights Movement, and the World Council of Churches that Martin Luther King Jr was a personified link fort he civil rights movement. After the death of Martin Luther King Jr. more than 196 city disturbances had occurred. Countless civil rights fighters had turned against the cities, rioting to get the government’s attention back towards its people. Riots had begun in 1963, ending in 1972, marking a number of over 750 revolts within urban civilizations. More than 500 cities had suffered riots and revolutions, all in the hopes of succeeding in King’s dream.
Due to the acts during the 1930s, 40’s, and late 50’s, the civil rights movement had greatly benefited the black community, revitalizing it and mobilizing the people in a way that reformed the southern parts of the United States, and even other parts of the world. However, there had been limits as to how far the world would change for the black community. Changes that were being made had been slow, and although the south was changing by default, it was a difficult and conflicting process. Although the Jim Crow Laws and other racial profanity had been all but eliminated, the attitude and “old ways” had remained in many of the old and middle-aged white community. Finding it difficult to make the changes, if at all trying to, the whites had still wanted to take that “superior” role over the black community and their livelihood.
With all this in mind, it is only fair to state out that the Civil Rights Movement had not only taken place in the south, but also in the north part of the U.S. The northern part of the United states was influenced by civil rights leaders, such as Jackie Robinson, Paul Robeson and Malcolm X, who were known to be influential in their own way. As predicted, when the 16th Amendment had passed, many African Americans had left to the north to try and start a new life or meet back with lives that they had become separated from. Nevertheless, it was states like New York that had taken most of the black community into their borders. The segregation was not nearly as bad in the north, as it was in the south, but its effect on the black population was enough to spark a movement within places such as New York. The Black Panther Party, Black Arts movement and Black Feminism had been some of the main ones that had revolted against this segregation in the northern states. However, although they were not as peaceful, they were doing acts out of reason. Reasons such as “equality” and “police brutality” were partly used against courts. The Black Panther Party and Black Arts had stood up the most against police, using the media to catch what was going on with police against the black community.
The northern civil rights movement had begun before the McCarthyism and Cold War liberalism. Considering that a person can infer that they had begun to occur around this time. Roughly estimated between 1941 through 1954, the movement in the north may have begun with the smaller parties forming against the white community. Later on, the groups like the Black Panther party and the Black Arts would take form and push further on with the movement. The state, in response to the uprising, would naturally try and take control back in white power over the blacks, but as it has been, the struggle for the “negros” is primarily focusing on social and economic rights rather than political and civil rights. Being in the northern part of the country puts more strain in the urbanization that most of these Afro-Americans as not many job openings are available, and those that are, they’re underpaying, low quality, small-time jobs.
It is because of standards such as these that the black people had made demands for the government to answer. Said demands, were as follows: full employment and affordable housing, which was guaranteed by the government, subsidized day care, universal healthcare, criminal justice reform, an end to bank redlining, and full and complete equality in all aspects of life. The northern movement would soon be defined by its rejection of gradualism. In 1945, an Adam Clayton Powell Jr. had been the first African American elected to Congress from New York and had promised equality for the Negros. Of course, New York and the north had posed challenges towards the movement still, by challenging that the segregation is caused more by “de facto” rather and the private actions of white rather than the actions and affairs with the government. However, the movement had pushed harder against the states, leading to cases such as the desegregation of Stuyvesant Town, which had taken ten years, launching the American fair housing movement. In this case, the states were no friend to the civil rights movement, or the fair housing movement.
It had taken years for the civil rights movement to surpass the power of the federal government. With segregation ending, and equal rights meeting up at the end, the black community had seen their image of freedom, where whites were no longer superior over the blacks. The people had, by force of law, finally, although it still took years to get used to and accept, treated the black people fairly. The groups like NAACP and Black Panther Party had met their goal, seeing their leaders wishes through. Which, many would argue that it has yet to be seen through thoroughly as bigotry and racism and prejudice is still seen to this day in the southern states.
In conclusion, as seen from the essay, the African American civil rights movement starting from the 1860s and ending in the late 1960s had been a time that many black people had undergone harsh times. Many being killed, or wishing to have been killed during those times; looking towards the groups that stood up and protested against the government and white community. Due to the Jim Crow Laws and other acts of racism against the black community, groups had formed and fought hard for equal rights and rallied large amounts of followers. And with great resilience, they had managed to succeed in their task to give their people equality.
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