Since 1930, the African American population has been facing troubled times. They were discriminated against by whites, and there was little representation, even the right to vote. Because of their skin colour, African Americans were seen to be lesser human beings and thus faced segregation in their everyday lives. The realization of freedom and the need to abolish bigotry is very close. There was the emergence of notable organisations during this period that fuelled the elimination of segregation. The Civil Rights Movement, which was under the direction of Martin Luther King, was among these organisations. In 1910 to the 1920s, groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) existed and led the violence that was done to the African Americans (Wright 501). The violence included mob injustices and lynching. These organizations undermined their rights of the blacks and worked towards ensuring that they did not have equality in life. Tensions resulted in the African-Americans and saw the development of many abolitionist organizations which focused on attaining racial equality.
Experiences of the African Americans
The blacks experienced brutality and mistreatment in the hands of the whites that substantially left them devastated. Segregation was a rampant aspect that fundamentally undermined the African Americans. Ending racial discrimination and segregation was one of the fundamental reasons that led to the development of the black movements to remove them from the depressing acts. For many years, slavery had existed in America and had worked to damage the black Americans. In the 1930s, the war to end the segregation was the underlining factor that facilitated the development of the organizations such as the civil rights movements. The southern legislation had passed confederate laws known as “the black codes” (Wright 549). These laws primarily provided a limitation to the black on their rights and propelled segregation. According to Lawson and Jack, 95% of the blacks were slaves and faced massive segregation in places like theaters, schools, public areas even in taverns (Lawson and Jack 24). These experiences made the blacks to devise ways that would ensure that the blacks were freed from the racial segregations.
The experiences that touched on inequalities were highly evident in the society. The racially discriminatory laws propelled inequality, and the blocks were denied voting rights and accessibility to the public facilities as they were thought to be inferior. Inequality was an upsetting aspect to the blacks, and the blacks were charged with expensive toll taxes. The African Americans were mainly illiterate as they did not have the rights to education but designated to work on the farms. An organization such as Kwanzaa aimed at attaining equality for the black people. Furthermore, the blacks faced violence that led to the death of many African Americans. Therefore ending the acts of violence was an objective that the organization did not hesitate to debate on. Undoubtedly, the blacks encountered many violence cases in America. One of the cruel violence was a lynching of the blacks. The blacks were also prone to mob injustices that prevailed in America. The segregation and inequality were supported by the legal system and the policing actions. Beyond the laws, there existed terrorism and violence of the African Americans. The Knights of White, Knights of White and many other White terrorist groups majorly managed to lead the murder of thousands and thousands African Americans. These groups directed their violence to the African Americans and promoted racial inequalities. In the south, more than 2000 blacks were lynched and shot alive (Wright 530). The African Americans were also beaten by the whites to death. All these violence resulted into many African American deaths which drew national attention to presidents like Roosevelt and Kennedy.
The undesirable experiences and the racial segregation were facilitated by the Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow Laws were majorly applicable to the South. The end of the racial reconstruction in 1877 saw the development of Jim Crow laws, and since the late 18th century to 1960s, the Jim Crow laws were functional to discriminate the blacks. This had become a tradition to the American society, and every black was to adhere to the stipulated laws. These laws extended and caused the denial of civil rights to the blacks and all forms of social aspects. There were signs which read “Whites Only” or “Colored” that were placed in the doors of the public facilities and drinking fountains (Wright 508). High segregation existed in the hotels, libraries, stores and institutional places. The laws stimulated a racism environment and caused the rise of lynching and other forms of injustices. The other violence was evident in the housing sector where the blacks were not allowed to buy or rent a house. There was a need for the blacks to end this violence. Massive injustices also existed in the court and judicial systems. For example the “1940 cases, Sweat v. Paiter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma, broke down the separate but equal standard” (Wright 510). Also, the 1954 “Brown v. Topeka Board of Education ruling” was another form of injustice (Wright 510). The judgment in these cases resulted into the assortment of boycotts, legal suits and mass sit-ins that aimed at hastening segregation in 1954. The racism organizations managed to become the victors of discrimination and segregation, and to some extent, the African Americans were accorded with equal civil rights. The Civil Rights Act was born in 1964. The Fair Housing Act in 19689, Voting Rights Act of 1965 were established and the Jim Crow laws was brought to an end through the Black Power Movement. The civil right movement contributed to three fundamental factors which were “the Great Migration, the changing nature of African American politics, and the social and cultural changes connected to war itself” (King 29).
The Black Power
The Black Power was a political “slogan” that correlated to the African ideologies aimed at accomplishing self-determination to the African Americans and the support of their culture. The slogan was more prominent in the 1960s and 1970s and emphasized the abolition of racism and the creation of the African American political culture institutions that would nurture and aid in the promotion of the African American interest in advancing their values. During the time, the African Americans expressed broad ranges of political goals that directed to curtail the oppressions that the blacks received. The blacks did vote for the Republicans until the 1920s. During this time, the southern wing Democratic Party remained to be heavily segregated. Lawson and Jack report that “Woodrow Wilson ordered the segregation of all federal facilities in Washington D.C. after he became president” (Lawson and Jack 37). The issue of discrimination against the blacks was detrimental in the 1930s at the time when the blacks voted for the Democrats and not the Republicans.
African-American Civil Rights Movement
This movement was established to fight for the rights of the African-Americans and lasted from 1955 to1968. The fundamental primary objective was to drive the abolition of the racial discrimination in many aspects of life that the blacks faced. Notably, the blacks faced prejudices in the fields of employment, use of public facilities, education, and voting. The injustices and the inequalities perpetrated against the blacks led to the development of notable legislatures that stemmed from the movement. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 aimed at banning the segregation in the public facilities and employment. Racism was propelled on the aspect of “race, color, religion, or national origin” (Lawson and Jack 57). The 1965 Voting Rights Act did manage to restore the voting rights of the African Americans. Furthermore, the “Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965” allowed the immigration of other races apart from those of the European nations. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 abolished the discrimination that was perpetrated against the blacks in the housing sector. The underlining factors behind the civil rights movement were the establishment of respect, dignity, equality and freedom.
In 1968, there was the sanction of 1,300 African American workers who protested due to the terrible working conditions, low payments and discrimination. Martin Luther King came to the Memphis and provided a speech which stated his support to the sanctions which would be done through protesting. The strike took 64 days which was one of the major events of the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement also led the Montgomery Boycott Bus in Alabama. Martin Luther King guided the boycott which was done against the city buses that refused to allow the African Americans to secure seats in front of the buses. The protesting quickly gained supports leading to the wide city boycott of the bus system and saw the change of the racial bus segregation. Besides, in 1963, the civil rights movement leaders led by Martin Luther King made an organization of massive march that aimed for equal rights in Washington DC. As Philip states, call to Negro American to march was to remove the acts of racial injustice.
The march consisted of approximately 200,000 supported and protested against racial discrimination, the Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in the employment sector. This is said to be the biggest gathering in the history of black protecting in Washington DC. During the gathering, Martin Luther King spoke an interesting and a famous speech called “I Have a Dream” (Wright 550). The speech and the protesting led to caused John F. Kennedy presidential administration to encourage the push for the civil rights laws in the American society. John F. Kennedy pressed for the rights of the blacks in the Congress and at the national level. President Kennedy had a huge contribution to the success of the civil rights movement. The non-violent policy realized social changes and Martin’s ultimate desires to bring together all the races led to equality.
Martin Luther King was a fundamental figure in the Civil Rights movement, and he managed to achieve great things that saw the establishment of equality to the African Americans. He also ensured that there were civil rights to all the races found in America. He managed to bring publicity to significant civil rights efforts and activities. Martin Luther King emphasized on the need for the non-violent protesting and provided encouragement to the significance of the non-violent protests. He provided leadership to the black civil rights movement and fundamentally assisted in the realization of the stated objectives. The contribution and the achievements that Martin Luther King had to the Civil Rights Movement did significantly shape the establishment of equality in the American society. Martin Luther King managed to influence the entire American society in the 1950s and 1960s, and the belief on non-violent protesting assisted him in setting the tone for the movement.
Indeed, the African Americans endured a lot of ill-treatment from the Whites. There living was filled with cases of injustices, violence, segregations and inequalities. The Jim Crow laws did work towards denying the blacks the right to accessing various public facilities and institutions. Slavery was an overwhelming experience that did not only make the Africans to have a difficult living but also drove the establishment of organizations that aimed at curbing slavery. Key leaders like Martin Luther King left behind a legacy that will always remain to be historically documented in the diaries of the African Americans. This owes to their contributions and achievements that these leaders had to the realization of equality and end of racism.
King Jr., Martin Luther. “Martin Luther King Jr. On The Black Revolution Of 1968”. Kalfou, vol 2, no. 1, 2015, Temple University Press, doi:10.15367/kf.v2i1.56.
Lawson, Steven F., and Jack M. Bloom. “Class, Race, And The Civil Rights Movements”. The American Historical Review, vol 93, no. 2, 1988, p. 506. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/1860078.
Wright, Kai. The African-American Archive. 1st ed., New York, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2001,.