Brown versus Board of Education, and the 1964 civil rights act, was major milestones in the civil rights movement, but they did not end segregation, and did not eliminate the need to talk about race in today’s culture. The civil rights act itself was a law that allowed loopholes to be exploited, and was not an act that ended the need to continue to fight civil rights. Brown versus Board of Education outlawed segregation in public schools, but the fight to desegregate proved difficult. Today segregation exists in schools, but it exists from different methods.
A prime example of how the Jim Crow South was lied in St Louis, a border city. Today, segregation of housing still exists in Cities and it resembles the Jim Crow south more than one might think. Maybe the biggest accomplishment of the Civil rights movement was the drifting away from the deep seeded racism common throughout the country, not just in the south. But the past must be understood to understand the current problems faced in this country regarding race. The race problem has not gone away, and not acknowledging is not going to solve it.
The Civil rights movement and the acts seen as its milestones changed the way race is viewed in this country, but it did not eliminate it as an important feature of the way this country exists today. The 1964 Civil rights act was passed, but not before its language had to change so congressmen from southern states in particular would vote for it. It changed voting requirements, but kept the Literacy test, which was a major factor preventing blacks from voting. It outlawed discrimination in public places, but left out private places, without defining what private meant.
It outlawed employment discrimination, but enforcement of this law was considerably weak. Its two biggest features were the provisions outlining desegregation, and the employment cause. The biggest thing, however, that the law did was to do something to protect the rights of African Americans. When looking at this law, it seems that it was almost more symbolic in nature, and it was a major stepping-stone for African Americans in getting Washington to back the rights they were fighting for.
In the Jim Crow South, schools were segregated, and they were not separate but equal. The schools denied black students a future in which they could choose. They were taught a different curriculum; the buildings were much more run down, and teachers were given less of a reason to work hard at their jobs African Americans did not live in luxury either. Students often had to leave school to help the demand for sharecropping, and to help their families survive in poverty. As a result, students only went to school around 70 days a year with a limited curriculum.
It was a vicious cycle, as a lack of education forced students to stay poor, and their children would continue as they did with little opportunity to grow from it. Brown versus Board of Education outlawed segregation in public schools, but it was only a step, and very little was done early on to enforce it. Barack Obama talked about in one of his presidential campaigns of the education gap between today’s students. He mentions how over hundreds of years of drastically different access to education as well as poverty problems today, todays students have slightly different levels of achievement in the classroom.
Ways of addressing this solution have come up to “solve” this. A process called “Tracking”, which sort’s students into different levels based off perceived academic skill, has been developed. The argument for this is that it allows students with less “ability” to not compare himself or herself to better students, and allow more freedom to learn at their own pace. The problem with this is that academic achievement is often associated with upbringing and poverty. So, in turn, an argument against this is that it educates based off the persons social class.
Most scholars agree that it in fact negatively affects disadvantaged students to go to separate schools based off of Tracking. It affects teacher’s expectations, lowers the curriculum, gives fewer resources, and denies many students the opportunity to progress past a certain level of learning. Many of the same problems of the Jim Crow South are repeated here, but this time it is not technically based off of race. Despite not being based off of race, African Americans have a much higher poverty rate, resulting in less access, which results in African Americans being put in schools often separated from white students.
It is not completely the same as Jim Crow, but it puts African Americans at a disadvantage they cannot escape from unless there is equal opportunity to learn as the richer white kids do. St Louis is a city that lies on the border between north and south. When it came to after reconstruction, Jim Crow had its effect on the city due to this, and it is a good representative of what Jim Crow did to African Americans. During the great migration, there was a massive movement of blacks into cities like St Louis. A nice feature of St Louis was the prevalence of white hostility.
Whites did not want blacks moving into their neighborhoods. So through politicians, neighborhood organizations, real estate groups, and fear, Blacks moved into a separate part of town, forming overcrowded black communities in small neighborhoods. Around the same time as migration, Jim Crow laws, creating separate public facilities for blacks and whites came into effect. To keep them separate, people used lynching’s, economic depravity, political oppression to keep them in their part of town. Black men were often used for labor-intensive jobs, or as servants, while black women often did not work at all.
Due to overcrowding, there was little access for a lot of people, so people suffered in poverty that they could not escape. St Louis had unevenly applied segregation; meaning parts of the town were more representative of the North than the South. St Louis was a good representative for inequality in both North and South for African Americans. Barack Obama addressed poverty for black as well as schools. He talked about “concentrated pockets of poverty”, meaning that African Americans live in separated, overcrowded, and poor communities.
He talked about the inability to amass wealth due to discrimination from property, exclusion from unions, from past generations affecting future generations. His point is that over many years African Americans have been subjected to slavery and segregation, and that has led to a huge wealth gap between blacks and whites. African Americans continue to face problems rooted in slavery and social barriers Segregation exists today, and blacks continue to resist desegregation due to familiarity and control over themselves. Whites resist integration into their neighborhoods, because they fear it would upset their social assets.
There has also been a greater increase in the spread of jobs to cities. While blacks tend to stay close to home, they also move around more than they once did, allowing for greater integration into the workplace. With residential segregation staying the same, and workplace integration increasing, the jobs a white and a black man take are often still separated due to the unfamiliarity of private lives. A black man is still inferior, and often there are reports of men feeling like they do not belong. Over time, however, intermingling in the work place can only lead to a greater familiarity, and thus more opportunity to prove ones self.
In South Central Los Angeles, blacks do disperse to jobs far away, but many have to stay close. There is less opportunity closer to home for blacks, and many are forced to stay close. Martin Luther King talked about rapid changes in the experience of segregation, which meant that a life for blacks in a segregated community was inconsistent and often unfair. While these communities see a greater increase in better jobs for blacks, there still remains many unsolved problems from the civil rights era. So what is the meaning of the legislation of Brown, and 1964, when today there still exists inequality in schools and in work?
Did those acts do nothing for the good of the country? Following the civil rights movement, the south became the stronghold for republican presidential candidates. Ironically, Republicans, especially in the south, felt civil rights violated southern peoples freedom to choose. They felt that the southern way of life was compromised. So upon the passing of legislation, southern politicians fought tooth and nail to keep their way of life. It must be stated again that it was not the legislatures intent to solve civil rights, but only to strengthen African American protection of law.
It did increase rights of African Americans, in the voting booth in 1965, and it empowered them when fighting for further civil rights. For the first time since reconstruction, African Americans had won rights they thought were given once the 14th amendment was passed. While not under the public eye, civil rights continued until 1973, as people drew strength from the law. If one thing can be gained from the civil rights movement, it is that it was no longer common to think of Blacks as less than human.
John L Jackson came up with the idea of “Racial Americana” which means that ace returns to our everyday lives whether we want it to or not. Looking at the past problems, and current problems, are necessary for advancements to be made. Looking at the language of Jim Crow signs is helpful to understanding the past. In a book like “Getting Mothers body”, by Suzan Bri Parks, you can understand exactly what they say. In books like this, one can take away that the signs can be read, and understood today, but it must not define. What this means is that the problems of today can only be understood by the problems of yesterday, but the problems of yesterday cannot become the problems of today.
Jim Crow no longer invades the south, but their still exists discrimination all over the place, and the greater problems of that time must be understood so the current problems can advance. It is like if a person has not eaten for several days, then he or she must understand that they must eat to survive, and understand that not eating for a few days is the primary factor of the hunger pains. Apart of learning from the past is to understand that race differences are not a problem that has disappeared in American society.
Audre Lorde styles herself as a black, lesbian, feminist, socialist mother of two in “I am your sister” written in 1984. She talks about how white “woman” define woman as what they see, hear, and touch. They use all of their experiences and use that to define what they think is a woman. They completely ignore black woman, and the differences that contribute to their sense of what a woman is. They do not see a black woman as being woman and being black, they only see a woman. She argues that there must be a distinction stating” refusing to recognize differences makes it impossible to recognize different problems and pitfalls as women. Refusing to acknowledge a difference means there can be no understanding of who a black woman is, and how that is important in understanding women as a whole.
She also uses that same context in talking about being a Lesbian, and that how being a lesbian is also an important identifier for her and the understanding of her attitudes and practices. It is these identifiers and acknowledgment of differences that help people understand one another. She states “ The future of our Earth may depend on the ability of all women to identify new definitions of power and new patterns of relating across difference. Along similar lines to Audrey Lorde, Assata Shakur talks about the need for black women to be strong. 95% of the women in this prison are black or Puerto Rican, imprisoned for shoplifting, robbery, pick pocketing and Prostitution. Most of these crimes were committed by desperate women trying to survive and feed their children. This prison was actually a place under command of guards who did not punish, and where conditions were much better than in normal, more drastic prisons for black men.
The guards tell the ladies to be “Ladylike” and to “always ask the officer. ” The guards are also Black women and they generally feel like they should try to be like good white men and women. But Shakur argues that they need to know who they are, and stay strong as black women. There must be a separation of their identity to be citizens of this country. The words of Audrey Lorde and Assata Shakur apply to the race problem in general. Refusing to acknowledge the existence of a difference between races is the same as being fearful of the unknown.
When someone fears the unknown, the unknown controls them, and actions toward the unknown are out of fear and generally harm what it is they fear. Separated schools, separated communities, a black man and a white man who have to work together, are all going to be hostile when confronted if they do not acknowledge differences. Not acknowledging means there will be a surprise when confronted with the differences, and that will lead to fear and hostility. Pretending everybody is the same does not solve anything, as people do not live in an ideal world.
A black man or woman trying to conform, as in Shakur’s case, will lead to a loss of identity. By acknowledging differences, and keeping strong separate identities, people can understand each other better, and only then can the lives of African Americans in the United States of America improve. After the end of the civil rights movement, the issue of race came to its forefront, but did not end segregation, and the issue of race continues to be something that all Americans must not ignore. The civil rights act outlawed segregation, but it did not end segregation and the problems that come with it completely.
The school systems improved from desolate to marginally better for blacks with integration, but recently there has been a trend, which seems to lead back to more segregation in schools. St Louis was a place of Jim Crow and Northern problems. Today, segregation exists in cities still, and it brings to mind many of the same problems under Jim Crow. The civil rights movement was significant in that it brought race to the forefront of our minds, decreased the inherent hatred with racism, and gave African Americans a chance to speak out against the wrongs the had plagued them for centuries.
Today, America has a black president, and wealthy black T. V personality with a huge influence, and many other black men and woman who have been allowed to influence the masses. But it is vital also to understand that the movement brought forth the fact that race is a problem that can never be ignored in this country. It did not solve a problem that may never be totally solved, so therefore the issue cannot be ignored. Ignoring the issue will bring people to where it started, where there is a fear of the unknown and no good way of solving it unless it is understood.
Courtney from Study Moose
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