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History after world war – II Essay

The Jim Crow segregation can be described as one of the low points in the history of America which preached inhumanity legally. The Jim Crow segregation consists of legal laws that segregated the white people from the black, making the white race a superior one. The segregation preached preference to whites in all walks of life which included separate entrance in a restaurant and punishable inter-race marriage. This was legalised in the nineteenth century and the African-Americans fought for over hundred years to earn back their civil rights.

It was in 1964 after a decade long intense African-American civil rights movement from 1955 that overturned the oppressive laws and instead conferred equality to the African-Americans. The trigger for the whole movement was the landmark victory in the case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 which made segregation based on colour impermissible. The African-Americans who till then had been escaping, surviving and tolerating the humiliating acts of the whites were overjoyed. However, their happiness was short-lived as there was absolutely no change in reality.

This prompted many individuals and African-American political groups like NAACP and CORE to conduct protests that were both effective and dramatic in nature. The first cry of protest came from the 42 year old lady Rosa Park, also known as the mother of the Civil Rights movement, when she refused to vacate her seat for a white in a bus. This led to her arrest and eventual trial at court, but this act of her gave birth to what is called as Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. This protest was one of the first successful movements which united the blacks in a major way.

This protest continued for 382 days till a local ordinance legally ended the segregation in the buses. The next major movement which called the attention of the nation were the various “Sit-ins” that black students had started in 1961. Students professionally dressed started sitting quietly in local stores without any segregation. The silent protests were often met with force wherein they were forcibly evacuated. However, it did make a loud noise at a national level and its cause did not end on deaf ears.

Another equally important movement was the freedom rides that were taken in the Deep South to desegregate those areas. Nonetheless, this movement turned out to be very violent that resulted in the use of brute force. The march to Washington in 1963 was a huge success where Martin Luther delivered his famous speech “I have a dream” though the demands that were met were not that effectively implemented. The Civil rights movement by then had reached a critical stage where protest for civil rights for the African-Americans was not a surprise anymore.

This was followed by many important campaigns like Albany Movement, The Birmingham campaign, the violent and the last nail on the coffin, Mississippi Freedom summer, which eventually led to the conferment of civil rights to the African-American in 1964. The act was signed on July 2nd that almost ended the segregation of the blacks. The role of Bayard Rustin, the civil rights activist, was largely behind the scenes but nevertheless a very important one.

An avid follower of Gandhian principles of non-violence (the tallest leader in the Indian Independence from the Great Britain), he had played a major role in planning of the hugely successful march to Washington in 1963 though he was never given any form of recognizition for the same. Bayard Rustin was the one who introduced martin Luther to the non-violent tactics in the civil movement which was implemented to a large extent. After the civil rights were conferred in 1964 and the voting rights in 1965, Rustin had stood for greater proximity between the civil rights movement and the Democratic Party.

The Black Panther party, on the other hand, was established on the principles of armed resistance which was quite opposite to what Bayard believed. In fact, its history is mostly violent with it being also referred to as a militant group. The civil rights movement for Black Panther, in actuality, intensified after 1965. The period, 1966-1972, saw lots of Black Panther action. They had become the vanguards of the black in many areas where they followed cops in black areas and protected the inhabitants from their brutality.

This often resulted in violent confrontations and also death of many policemen and the Black Panther activists. This party was very popular because of the direct action approach that they had adopted. This is quite unlike the peaceful tactic that Bayard had adopted. Basically, Bayard and the Black panthers represented two opposite forces that determined the course of life for millions of African-Americans – one that believed non-violent resistance as the key and the other violent protests as the only answer.

The Policy of Containment is a major foreign policy in the history of America that guided many decisions that America as a country took. As the name suggests, the policy of containment aimed at containing the growth of Communism in general, and Soviet Union in particular by isolating it from everyone. The containment would check the growth and expansion of the targeted object by cutting off its basic needs or forming alliances that would effectively contain its augmentation. The policy of containment was a brain child of George Kennan who was then the head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.

This doctrine was developed as a strategy that would stop the Soviet from spreading Communism throughout the world and had prescribed a simple pill: the need to confront “the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point where the Soviet Union shows signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful world. ” This theory came at the right time as President Truman had just spelled out the changed foreign policy of America that talked more about “freeing people from oppressive regimes”.

Though not the official line of the White House, it was quickly taken in to the fold to cushion the effect of the “Truman Doctrine” had on the nation. Since then, the policy of containment was applied and used as the main guiding light in determining many of the future foreign policy events till the fall of Soviet Union in 1991. During this period, the containment policy saw many changes and modifications to its original state by different Presidents. The first major implementation of the policy of containment was the Korean War.

This war is also known as the hardest test this policy had to go through. The origin of Korean War was quickly blamed on Stalin and was touted as the expansion of communism by America. Thus, America had the right to intervene and eventually joined the war in support of South Korea against the other raging part of Korea – North. Truman had specifically targeted at complete containment wherein every nook and corner of Korea would be protected against the onslaught of communism. The period saw the policy of containment acting as a military option.

A major shift in the Containment policy occurred in 1955 when Eisenhower met Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin, and Nikita S. Khrushchev, the head of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party. This was a huge change in the original tone adopted when the containment policy came to into effect, that of isolating Soviet Union. Eisenhower sought better relations with Soviet as he believed that negotiation with communists would be desirable. Kennan endorsed this view though he was criticized for this stand and was accused of “futile and lethal attempt to crawl back into the cocoon of history. What followed this was a dangerous implementation of this policy in 1962 what, we today know as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Russians had moved its missiles at the Cuban border for reasons still unexplained. This step was seen as a great threat of Communism to America and the free world. America, immediately, resorted to armed confrontation, though by some good sense, a major confrontation was avoided. This crisis was believed to be the most tensed moment in the period of Cold war where fears of another world war spread all over the world.

Another mis-utilization of this policy also occurred in the Vietnam War which was fought in the name of containing the spread of communism in Asia. Though properly warned against the great expenses and possible losses if involved in a war in Indochina, United States had marched in to Vietnam with its troops. This had definitely weakened the policy of containment, though it was not dismantled completely. It was in the mid-1970s that the containment policy seemed to have distanced itself from the then foreign policy adopted in America.

Communism was weakening in many parts of the world and the war of Vietnam ended with America bearing far more losses than anticipated. All this increased the unlikliness of the use of that policy. However, the 1970’s also saw the overthrow of Chile’s communist government and worldwide military alliances that did suggest influence of the containment policy. This policy officially met its end with the disintegration of Soviet Union. To conclude, this policy alone played a role of paramount importance in shaping the various events in the history of world post world war – II that has defined the borders we see today.


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