Racial Equality Movements Throughout History

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Imagine fifteen years of fighting for equality and freedom, just to have all of it mean nothing. That is the day and age we live in today. To continuous harassing and hate in all forms of publicity, for example; in sports, music industry, politics, civilian life, and all around society. The civil rights fought for freedom and law changes for African Americans in the mid 1900’s. Unfortunately to this day African American people are still fighting for those changes. February 26th, 2012, the day that sparked anger and revenge in the hearts of African Americans. The day an unarmed teenage was fatally shot and killed. Since that day colored people of America have come together to stop the continuation of discrimination and the inequality of blacks. Throughout the years the process of what they have fought for has been a rough road. Constant riots and multiple killing of colored people in America brings the question to mind, how has the civil rights movement changed throughout the years, and how can things be changed and addressed in modern day?

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Take it back to the Civil Rights Movement (1954 – 1968), everywhere you go you are constantly being called derogatory names and being treated as if you are not a human being. During this period African Americans fought for racial equality, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from the hate and negativity of white society. Civil Rights activists argued that although slavery ended in the 19th century, racism and prejudice continued through racial segregation throughout time. They also fought for equality in public schools, for everyone should have the equal right to learn in a safe environment. If it weren’t for Rosa Parks, ‘the first lady of civil rights’ and ‘the mother of the freedom movement’, then the fight for freedom would not have happened when it did. Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1st, 1955 and was charged with violating Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. this incident led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a civil rights protest by African Americans who refused to ride buses in Montgomery, Alabama. They did this to protest segregated seating. The boycott lasted 380 days, from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956. With the success of this boycott, the direct action of the civil rights movement began. As the civil rights movement developed, it split into two forms: Active nonviolent resistance and Black Power. The active nonviolent resistance was and still is a way of life, a positive and powerful force for social change, and a means of building a global community committed to the well-being of all. It also called for no violence and never fight back, a phrase they would commonly use was, “If someone slaps you on one side of your face, turn the other one to him.”

The first active nonviolent resistance was led by Martin Luther King Jr. As for the Black Power they didn’t think the same way as the active nonviolent resistance activists did. As Malcolm X said, “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” Although he always believed in Martin Luther King Jr. he and many others were disappointed by the slow progress of nonviolent resistance. One of the main groups apart of the Black Power were the Black Panther Party. They were founded in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. They were usually dressed in black berets and black leather jackets. Their main purpose was that they were armed citizens who would pratrol in major cities especially Oakland. The Party, also known as a major gang to the white community quickly grew and at their peak had roughly 2,000 members. One of the major violent outburst that happened was in 1967, when their founder, Huey Newton, supposedly shot and killed police officer John Frey during a shootout. Another major group was the Nation of Islam. They called for violent resistance. They began standing up to the Ku Klux Klan, fighting back with weapons. The Nation of Islam were a group that centered in their beliefs originating from Islam, they wanted to start a country apart from the white community even if that meant violence was necessary.

Over those 15 years a lot was changed and fixed. One of the first things that was started was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee their main purpose was to encourage all students to join in on the civil rights movement. President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was originally started by President John F. Kennedy before his assassination. It was finally passed on July 2nd 1964. The law granted equal employment for all races and color. It also limited the use of voter literacy tests. In the next year President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965. By signing the new voting act he took the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to a different level. The Voting Acts of 1965 finally banned all voter literacy tests. Now in 1968 The Fair Housing Act was passed on April 11, 1968. This law was passed a few days after King was assassinated. This law prevented housing discrimination based on race, gender, national origin and religion. It was not just targeted for African Americans it took a step closer to all Americans having equality, including; females, African Americans, Religion. It was also the last civil rights based law passed during the civil rights era.

Unfortunately in the 21st century there are still things African Americans are fighting for. In specific, police brutality, racial tensions in all forms of society, and the unfair chance at education, employment, housing, and also having a larger percentage of colored incarceration rates. Police brutality has been going on from the beginning and sadly it is still happening to this day. People started to notice blacks being targeted when an innocent teen, Trayvon Martin was fatally shot and killed by George Zimmerman when he was walking back to his relatives, as George Zimmerman claims Trayvon attacked him and he shot his gun in “self defense”. Colored people are also victim to being targeted by police officers and not given the equal respect given to white people when it comes to being pulled over. In the 21st century, fathers have to teach their children how to act when pulled over. These children when they are being pulled over, the first thing you do as the police approaches you is to already have all the documents you need out and ready. Fathers also need to emphasize whenever you move always ask permission and state clearly before moving, and say exactly what you are doing, incase the officer thinks you are reaching for a weapon and they receive the wrong message and kill another innocent person. Another key point given to children is to always do as the officer says, never talk back and never fight back. Colored people constantly fear for their lives because they never know if their next move, will be their last. Then Black Lives Matter came around and sparked pride in blacks. Founded in July of 2013 by Alice Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the group fights to build local power and intervene on violence brought into black communities. They believe that one day America will be free of anti-blackness and have the ability to live in a country where they are equal in the social world, economy, as well as politics. Social Media is a big factor for Black Lives Matter. They started Concerned Student 1950 movement which led to the resignation of the University of Missouri president, because he failed to deal with racism on campus. Thanks to Blacks Live Matter, other movements not specific towards civil rights have taken shape for example; #MeToo, #NeverAgain and #TimesUp.

In the 21st century racism as well racial tension plays a major role in many people’s lives. As a community the black people are coming together to protect and help each other. As a major role in the modern day civil rights movement, Black Lives Matters is a key contributor in modern helping to spark the black community to fight for what is right. With the continuing success of these groups, America will be equal and racist free.

14 May 2021

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