Hegel and the Struggle for Recognition

She cited Hegel, one of history's greatest philosophers, in saying that resistance is a crucial component of a social group's fight for recognition. African Americans have historically experienced acts of dehumanization and enslavement, which inspired them to create resistance movements. The Civil Rights Resistance Movement was founded by Martin Luther King, a famous activist for the liberation of black people. This movement aimed to achieve racial equality and put an end to black discrimination. Slavery's institution did in fact prove to be cruel and harmful to African Americans' quality of life. The public transportation system and other public areas were rife with discrimination. African Americans experience prejudice, brutality, and racism. The segregation they experience in the transportation system led to the development of boycotts. As such, the struggle for recognition through resistance was a means of fighting for identity and respect.

Summary of The Long Walk Home

This movie is set in Montgomery, and it features the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. Odessa Cotter who is the protagonist of the story is an African woman working as a maid in the house of Miriam and Norman Thompson. Odessa, her family, and other blacks chose to confront the critical issues that the African Americans face in the South. During this time, the south was highly discriminatory, and masters in this region oppressed the servants who worked for them as servants. The black people encountered segregation, poverty, racism, and violence and these factors created the need for resistance and boycotts. The African Americans started to boycott the city-owned buses in an attempt to bring an end to the discrimination perpetrated in the transit system. For Odessa, she takes long walks to work and her boss, Miriam offers to give her a ride two days in a week. The boycott creates tension to rise in the city, and the bus system starts to suffer financially. Evidently, Miriam's husband, Norman, is against the ride that her wife gives Odessa. Norman and other prominent people in the city want the boycott to end. Miriam follows what she believes is right and continues to help Odessa. She does not give in to the pressures from her husband and friends. Notably, after a long fight, Miriam decides to take part in a carpool group in order to help the African Americans such as Odessa in their boycott against segregation. When the movie ends, the viewer sees that Miriam along with her daughter Mary Catherine join Odessa and other African Americans and stand up against the oppression of the blacks (Jiayu).

Hegel and the Struggle for Recognition

Hegel's theory of recognition is equipped to support and illuminate the psychological mechanisms of political and social resistance. According to Hegel, misrecognition violates the identity of the given subjects, and for this reason, the affected people are supposed to resist in order to be recognized in the society. Therefore, The Long Walk Home movie supports Hegel's theory of the struggle for recognition. Characters in the movie boycott and resist the buses, and according to them, this is an important aspect that would help them be recognized in the highly segregated society. Hegel's theory motivates resistance and engages in a struggle for recognition. Hegel in his reasoning stipulates that resistance are driven at realizing new social reforms in wide spheres of life including the struggles against oppression of the minority groups. The African Americans were the ethnic minority, and thus resistance and boycotting of the busses was a critical factor in enabling them to bring changes to the community. The minority groups struggle for an affirmation of identity and therefore engage in new social and political measures that are directed to yield a difference in the society. Therefore, according to Hegel, the resistance of the blacks was a move to attain identity and equal rights in a society that failed to appreciate their contribution. The African Americans political movements are framed regarding recognition highlighting the call for justice in the society.

He gel elucidates that, realizing self-consciousness of the minority classes requires a struggle for recognition.The origin of the servant-master relationship arises because they belong to two different social classes. The dominant status that the lord enjoys and the position he or she holds in the society leads to an independent nature and superiority. On the other hand, the servant will remain to be dependent on the master. This creates a pattern of relationship between the servant and the master. The servants have to depend on the master, and the struggle arises when the master sees the servant to be an object instead of a subject. The master finds his position satisfying by turning the servant into an object that is unessential to his self-consciousness. This view by masters makes their servants to be seen as though they are inferior and frustrates their desires of asserting pure self-consciousness (O'Neill 8). Hence, a situation like this leads to resistance as a means of seeking recognition from the master. According to Hegel, this creates the lordship and bondage relationship. The struggle for resolution arises when one of the social classes exploits and oppresses the other social class. The idea of being viewed as an object or a subject is what will determine if one of the social class will develop resistance in the quest for recognition and respect.

More strikingly, Miriam helps Odessa by giving her a lift to work so that she does not get tired and arrives on time. Miriam's actions are contrary to what the white society expects her to do. She is kind-hearted, and she recognizes that the oppression that the blacks go through is unacceptable. However, her husband and friends are against her move to help the blacks. When the movie ends, Miriam and Odessa follow what they believe is right and resist the discrimination they face from the society. The two along with other blacks battle the oppression, segregation, and violence through boycotting the state buses. They form the resistance movements in their struggle for recognition. Hegel would probably support the resistance of the blacks and note that this is a move to seek social reforms in the society. Indeed, Hegel's philosophical thought truly guided the liberation of the blacks, and in the end, they were able to attain equality.


Struggle for recognition is a philosophical and a normative dimension used in the search for identity and equality. Hegel's legacy on the on this theory has been an essential factor for people who seek self-consciousness and freedom from the oppressive society. For example, the blacks were discriminated, and thus they boycotted the buses through resisting and this saw the enactment of social reforms. Hegel's philosophical thoughts will thus remain to be influential to many societies who have an ultimate purpose of attaining recognition.

Works Cited

Jiayu Asliman. The Long Walk Home. YouTube. 1990. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9XMPHQkEBA. (Accessed on 13, November, 2017).

O'Neill John. Hegel's Dialectic of Desire and Recognition. Albany, State University of New York Press, 1996.

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