The American Freedom Essay Example
The Civil Rights Movement was an era devoted to activism for equal rights and treatment of African Americans in the United States. During this period, people rallied for social, legal, political and cultural changes to prohibit discrimination and end segregation. Civil rights are defined as "the nonpolitical rights of a citizen; especially those guaranteed to U. S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress" (Wikipedia).
The 13th amendment of the Constitution abolished slavery in the U. S. and the 14th amendment insured African Americans of their legal citizenship and equal protection under the law. According to the book, “Give me Liberty” the freedom movement is defined in part as "a series of organized activities working toward an objective; also: an organized effort to promote...
or attain an end". (Give Me Liberty) But this movement came into its existence not overnight or just from one suppressed section of American society. It was a common idea to fight for it. After World War II America came out as a superpower and the world was ready to follow our policies.
The African American was migrating out of the south into the newer cities around the country. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) American propaganda against other races was creating racial tensions at home it was about time that America delivered on its word. But during 1950’s, a very less portion of the population was ready to desegregate the country. Slowly and eventually, African Americans start looking at “Separate but equal” as an unjust deal. Many of them had fought in World War II and at that time were given equal rights as other White American
This showed that the abolishment of slavery did not change the perceptions that allowed discrimination to continue. Historic roots can be dug to find out crucial events in American history that have had significant effect on development and rise of the Civil Rights movement. Many important events involving discrimination against African Americans proceeded the era known as the Civil Rights Movement. The importation and enslavement of Africans is perhaps the most notorious example of inhumanity in United States history. (Give Me Liberty) In 1808, there was a ban on the import of slaves.
The prohibition was in vein because the trade continued. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln officially ended slavery. (Give Me Liberty) However, the proclamation could not directly transform attitudes of many citizens or the legacy of a country that had considered African Americans as less than human. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) In 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was confirmed by the 13th amendment of the Constitution which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude.
In 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson established a policy of separate but equal accommodations for African Americans. Voices Of Freedom, 51) I believe this step was one of the most crucial turning points in the American history as it laid the basis for “nation’s long retreat from the ideal of equal rights for American citizens regardless of race, embodied in the laws and constitutional amendments of Reconstruction. ” (Voices Of Freedom, 51) Many historians agree that the Civil Rights Movement occurred between 1955 and 1965, but the exact time span is debated (Wikipedia). There are even some who will argue that the Civil Rights Movement has not ended and that discrimination and
efforts to oppose it continue.
During the years of 1955 to 1965, many legislative and judicial events emphasized the legality of fair treatment of African Americans. Despite the support of the federal government, these new laws and rulings faced opposition. Many individuals and local governments refused to end discrimination and continued practices of segregation. They found ways to go around the new legislations in their local authorities for years. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The case of “Brown vs. he Board of Education”, presented by Thurgood Marshall, overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson. It was an important step in initiating integration.
But white Americans go great lengths to object this, and it actually took over 10 years to get schools in the south desegregated. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) In 1957, the governor of Arkansas attempted to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce the court order.
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 protected the freedom of African Americans to vote. 960, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal in interstate bus and train stations. A group of citizens called “Freedom Riders” tested this ruling by traveling throughout the southern portion of the country on buses. The Freedom Riders encountered violence in Alabama. President Kennedy intervened to ensure their safety. (Give me Liberty, U. S. Dept. Of Justice) Around this time, important Civil Rights activists were coming into the mainstream; Martin Luther King being one of them. King is considered the most prolific leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
He was a founder of the
SCLC and was known for his nonviolent approach towards ending discrimination. Martin Luther King delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream Speech' at the March on Washington in 1963, a demonstration of 250,000 people to promote civil rights. The next year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. His birthday is celebrated as an official U. S. holiday on the third Monday in January. (Wikipedia) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in public places and by any program that receives federal government funding.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a U. S. government agency that takes employment discrimination complaints to court; in an effort to enforce laws that prohibit job discrimination. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 suspended the use of voter qualification tests, creating a sharp increase in black voter registration. These tests had been used to disqualify African Americans from their voting rights based on their inability to comprehend clauses and sections from the Constitution.
This was another crucial act that was passed because now this movement is eventually becoming a combined effort of blacks and whites. Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965) generated a new hope among the African American community for a better future. Yet, the rights themselves were not sufficient to change the hearts of thousands of Americans living in south that obviously opposed these acts. At this time, the FBI understands the crucial situation and decides to become a protector of the Civil Rights Movement. This leads to a widespread anger among the civil population down south.
However, the African
Americans begin to feel that they have a greater share for them in the American society. Another important aspect of the Civil Rights Movement can be considered the role of women since World War II. They had participated in war efforts equally as men did, and had lost the desire to fight for suffrage since then. But during the era of 1960’s, women get involved in Civil Rights movements and eventually lead to formation of National Organization for Women in 1966. (Dr. Brendan Lindsay) This organization is created keeping in mind many important issues such as equal jobs opportunities, wages, and even equal education.
So at this time in history, the Civil Rights Movement is taking shape of a national movement rather than a movement for African Americans. The Civil Rights Movement was important to the history of the United States and the world. It established that discrimination was unjust and would no longer be tolerated in the country, while setting an example for oppressed people everywhere. The efforts of the Civil Rights Movement ended segregation publicly and legally. The era helped redesign the nation's social system. The Movement changed where African Americans could take a drink from a fountain or attend college.
The efforts to help a specific group united many citizens to achieve a common goal. People, regardless of race, fought together for the just treatment of African Americans. Being an immigrant myself, I can relate to this time period in history. The question asked in the requirements was to define as to how this affected my freedom in general (considering I am not an African American). The answer is simple yet important to understand,
the freedom that I or any other American enjoys today is a direct result of this great movement.
This movement definitely help change people’s attitude towards other human without thinking about their skin color and race. This movement is the reason why Americans of 21st generation are proud to be citizens on this great county; a country that has been standing strong on the sacrifices of its great leaders, soldiers and ideals. The Civil Rights movement made it possible for people of all races and ethnicities to come together and create a world that doesn’t bar people based on their part identities but rather gives each of us equal opportunity to be a prosperous and faithful citizen.
The freedom that was fought for by our great grandfathers is ours today to enjoy and we should be thankful to them for creating a vision that saw all people as one nation under God. Of course there are differences that exist among different sections of society, and they will exist for coming years. But this is where our strength lies, to overcome these differences and think as sons and daughters of this great country to work for its betterment.
The world always looks upon countries with great responsibilities as role models for other cultures to follow, and it is us the citizens of this United states that have that power to help others follow our ideals and values by practicing them ourselves. Each citizen of this country should understand how great this nation is to him/her and others for not just providing life, liberty and prosperity, but also an identity, an identity that represents him to the rest of world
with pride and honor, a dignity in the idea of being an American.
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