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Social Movements Essay

The black struggle for civil rights are tracing their origins back to the arrival of the first Africans in America and also to their work in manufacturing firms, plantations and homes of Americans Taylor, (2000). The civil rights were born as labour movements to fight for the alienated immigrants to have equal rights in America. Since then these movements in the United States have been primarily considered as nonviolent movements that struggle to bring equality and full civil rights for all the American people under the American laws.

Most of these movements had long lasting impacts in tactics and increased social and legal acceptance of the civil rights movements because they brought abilities the exposure of the existing and persistent racism and its cost. The American civil rights movement has been made up of many movements though these movements have always been referred to as struggles between 1945 and 1970s. Many movements were initiated but they did not achieve much in terms of political legal social and economic liberations.

This was due to their inability to mobilize people to join in their struggle for liberation. However there were two civil rights movements that achieved greater success and can be considered to be the most effective groups. In this case effectiveness of a movement would be defined as; the ability of a movement to mobilize people to join in its activities it’s capacity to make fundamental changes and it’s ability to leave behind legacies in cases of decline or when banned from operating in a state.

The civil rights movements that achieved these were the NAACR and UNIA both which had their headquarters in the US and had large support from blacks and social democrats of white origin. The most effective civil rights movement in the USA in the 20th century was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This was and still is the most influential movement in the USA. A large group of people but from different races founded it on November 12 1909.

The founding fathers of NAACP included DUBOIS and Ida Wells-Barnet who were African Americans, Henry Moskowitz (A Jew). Mary White Orrington (white) Oswald Carrison Villad (German born white) and William English Walling (white son of former slave owning family: In 1905 Du Bois advocated for a meeting in a Canadian hotel some meters from Niagara tells, to discuss the challenges facing “people of color”. People of color were the then used to refer to the blacks in America.

32 prominent African American people attended the meeting and this movement was called the Niagara movement. A year later, the whites that were against racism joined the Du Bois team. The Niagara movement then approached some 60 prominent Americans of the day to ensure that they broaden its membership to be more effective and have larger scope. It then changed from Niagara falls movement to NAACP in 1910 and the name was formerly adopted in may 30, 1910.

NAACP was more viable reliable influential and diverse organization due to its mission. The mission of NAACP according to Mann (2000) was to promote equality of rights and to evaluate cost or value of racial prejudice among American citizens, to secure for the “colored people” importance suffering, to advocate for their interests, to increase their ability and opportunities for securing education for the children, justice in the courts, employment with accordance to their ability and complete equality before the American law.

As Mann (2006) argues in his book; Katrina’s Legacy, he has identified the black-led movements to be more important than man-made disasters of Katrina as very important and significant to the possibilities of controlling imperialistic and capitalistic ways of life. They are also very vital in the transformation of a destructors and unstable imperialism and white supremacy. From Mann’s argument it is therefore very obvious that NAACP was effective in terms of democratic vision, ability to mobilize more members and ability to eradicate the racial prejudice.

NAACP through Jim Crow’s states that were meant to legalize racial discrimination and by 1913s the people of color would go to the notes and any other restricted areas. NAACP’s president and board members were on in 1913 to oppose president5 Woodrow Wilson’s introduction of racial discrimination and segregation in the federal government policy. To be more effective the NAACP is having four departments within if; the department of education, legal office, health department and the local departments based in member colleges and towns. The legal department is entitled to legal maters.

If facieses court cases with broad importance to minorities for instance, handles legal matters pertaining to systematic racial discrimination in employment, educational institutions, health institutions and recreational institutions. It is also entitled to pursuit legal cases involving government discrimination. The health division is endowed with the responsibility of advancing proper health care for minorities through public policy inanities and education. Through education the minorities are reminded about their rights to health care and all the legal frameworks that guides medical services and practitioners.

The NAACP is having a Bureau in Washington DC which is responsible for lobbying for the US government. While the education department works in all the member states to improve the quality of education offered a t several atate4 and local levels. The local youth and college department are responsible for the organization of activities for individual members. In terms of mobilization of members NAACP has been able to recruit very many individuals since its initiation in the early 1900s.

The headquarters of NAACP is based in Baltimore Maryland with regional offices in states of Texas, California, Georgia, New York, Missouri and Michigan. The regional offices are supposed to coordinate the efforts of state conferences and any other included within the region. 64 members board of directors runs NAACP with each coming from the member states. The Board elects their president and chief executive office for the organization, under the leadership of a chairperson of the board. Currently NAACP is approximately 400,000 people, this includes paying and non-paying members.

The main political achievement of NAACP was its National Voter Fund to launch a major get-out-the vote offensive during the 200 US presidential elections. This saw about 10. 5 million African Americans cast their ballots in the presidential elections, a number which was estimated to be 1 million more people than four years before. This achievement was greatly credited by the international observers and they congratulated NAACP for playing a very important role in handling the Ai-Gore states as Michigan and Pennsylvania where elections were close.

In the late 1970s Marcus Garvey found black liberation movement to fight against the oppressive rules against the blacks and non-blacks in Diasporas. Garvey’s movement was considered the most original innovative and important of all the movements of late 19th century. This movement was geared towards the struggle for black and African liberation and it provided a very powerful inspirations and valuable teachings for black and non-black member in the Caribbean countries. In early 1900s Garvey moved into the US and started an extremely successful movement known as The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

Thousands of UNIA chapters developed in the four continents, because it was viewed, as would be new and successful road to cultural, economic, political and social liberation for blacks and African nations. As NAACP, UNIA also proved very effective in liberation of the blacks through initiating several organizations and groups. The black women association was initiated to fight against racial prejudice among black women and was to advocate for their civil rights in the society. The musical group was aimed at fighting for the rights of the black musicians who had interest in the music industry.

It opposed the limits set for the black musicians and called for participations from the ghettos to the gypsies and anybody who had interest and abilities. UNIA saw the initiation of the African Orthodox Church to carter for religious needs of the Africans. This saw the end of discrimination in the then missionary churches in Africa. To ensure that all the blacks and Africans got access to proper and reliable medical services the movement initiated ‘The Back Nurses’ Association to offer medical services needed by members of UNIA.

Further on UNIA was able to initiate an internationally distributed newspaper ‘The Negro’ throughout the world. This was a means of education to the blacks stressing on self-reliance and critical evaluation of the books written by the whites about Africa and the blacks. The newspaper would also correct the overcritisism of the black movement and instead unveil the scenes of the whites associated with lynching of blacks. UNIA also developed black economic corporations for example the famous ‘Black Star Lines’ shipping company.

Several ships were bought for this company and it was intended to bring back the Africans who were interested in going back to their original homeland. However during the period between 1920 and 1923 UNIA was faced with a decline because the US government for alleged fraud in the international transactions involving the ‘Black Star Lines’ imprisoned Marcus. Other African nations like Liberia refused to accept the blacks from Europe and the US. The movement also suffered persecutions from imperialists and capitalist governments.

However UNIA is not dead as it would be for the US government it’s legacy still lives on to this century. Scholars like Mann (2000) are still advocating for the reinforcement of the historical perspectives, which are deeply rooted in centuries of struggle by black liberation. Mann thinks that capitalism, colonialism and imperialism have devastated environment and human lives, so struggle by the oppressed and the colonized is the main tool for liberation which in turn is the key to building new, more just, ecologically-sound and humane society.

Though Garvey was jailed and later on released and deported to Jamaica his movement for the blacks UNIA still had great influence in the US. There are some movements that owe their origin to UNIA for example The Black Muslims Association and Neo-Garveyist Movements. He inspired numerous African leaders to fight for colonial liberation. For instance the first Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah appreciated the self-reliance calls made by Garvey in his books. Kenya’s first president who was a revolutionary leader Jimo Kenyatta was also inspired by Garvey’s works, Kenyata’s renown labour activist Tom Mboya also borrowed ideas from Garvey.

On any occasions of independence attained in Africa scholars like Malcolm X would link it to Garvey’s colonial liberation. Malcolm argues that any independence attained kept the spirit of Garvey alive. UNIA’s legacy still lives on as all sided and the largest black movement with totality of cultural, political, economic and spiritual liberation. It is also the movement that achieved greatest strength internationalism, with membership of more than 25 nations with local chapters in each member country.

UNIA also had approximately 2,000 delegates from all over the world. NAACP and UNIA were both civil rights organizations aimed at working on behalf of the African Americans and the blacks to fight for their rights. NAACP retained the name ‘Color People’ in accordance with the tradition of the last surviving users that is the few colored people still found in the US. UNIA on the other hand had advocated for self-reliance and critical analysis and evaluation of the literature by white people.

The movement was virtually fighting for black liberations in issues related to land ownership, reparations, full democratic rights and the right of self-surficiency. Therefore it can be said that both NAACP and UNIA played a very important and significant role in black liberation because both contributed to the racial prejudice and disintegration as well as colonialism that were oppressive to the blacks. NAACP is still very vital in advocating for changes in the contemporary society. For instance it opposed election of president W Bush associating him with racism and other oppressions towards African Americans.

President Robert Mugabe is still keeping the spirit of Garvey burning by insisting on a self-reliant Zimbabwe and he has locked out all the international aids to his people. It’s therefore evident that NAACP and UNIA have largely contributed to major radical changes in US. References Erick Mann (2006) Katrina’s Legacy; White Racism And Black Reconstruction In New Orleans and Gulf Coast, Frontlines Press, Los Angels. Jonathan B, Clevance Taylor, (ed) (2000), Civil Rights Since 1787;A Reader On The Black Struggle, NYU, Press, New York.

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