African-Americans Fighting for Equality

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 December 2016

African-Americans Fighting for Equality

African-Americans have been fighting for equality and freedom every since they were taken from Africa as slaves. They were stolen from their families and separated only to be servants to others as they were belittled, beaten, put down and treated as nothing. Many things have changed over the centuries, but African-Americans still fight everyday for different types of acknowledgements and equality. They have fought hard over the centuries to end segregation, discrimination, and isolation to attain equality and civil rights.

Through the Civil Rights Movement African Americans played important roles American history with courage, strength, and struggling to live equal in America. We have learned about important people and events throughout history, but the fight against discrimination, segregation and isolation have not always been focused on. This paper will highlight how some of the well known and unknown people contributed towards the Civil Rights Movement, in which continues to be fought in present time.

“Racial segregation was a system derived from the efforts of white Americans to keep African Americans in a subordinate status by denying them equal access to public facilities and ensuring that blacks lived apart from whites” (Lawson, 2009). Slaves lived in quarters far away from the master houses on the plantations, the only ones that lived in the house were the special chosen. “By the time the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) that African Americans were not U. S. citizens, northern whites had excluded blacks from seats on public transportation and barred their entry, except as servants, from most hotels and restaurants.

When allowed into auditoriums and theaters, blacks occupied separate sections; they also attended segregated schools. Most churches, too, were segregated. ” (Lawson, 2009). Rosa Parks was famous for her courage to stand for her right to sit where ever she wanted on a bus, but she was not the first or only one to make this choice. There was a fifteen year old girl that was arrested nine months earlier, but she was not attributed to the act because of her status of being a foul mouth tomboy and getting pregnant right after the incident (Young, 2000).

Also when Rosa Parks was approached by the bus driver to move there were other African- American people sitting next to her, but because she spoke up first history gives her credit and was noticed by Dr. Martin Luther King. It needs to be known that many people were courageous in their act to fight for equal rights. Basically Parks was at the right place at the right time, “Parks arrest sparked a chain reaction that started the bus boycott that launched the civil rights movement that transformed the apartheid of America’s southern states from a local idiosyncrasy to an international scandal.

It was her individual courage that triggered the collective display of defiance that turned a previously unknown 26-year-old preacher, Martin Luther King, into a household name” (Younge, 2000). Dr. Martin Luther King name goes down in history as the most well known activists through the years. He was known as a non violent activist, in which he adapted the philosophy from Gandhi, which was respected not only by the black race but also by all other races. King’s speech “I Have a Dream” became what African-American’s live by for centuries to come.

Also there was the, “We Shall Overcome” speech on August 23, 1963. King’s words at the capital that day were a defining moment of the Civil Rights movement” (Bowles, 2011). King fought for civil rights until the day he was killed. There was a protest at Fisk University in Nashville in which three students was disgusted at the fact blacks could not sit at the lunch counters to eat. C. T. Vivian, Diane Nash and Bernard Lafayette protested with others in Nashville on April 19, 1960. “Nash confronted Mayor Ben West. In what she calls a “divine inspiration,” she asked the mayor to end racial segregation.

He appealed to all not to discriminate. She asked him if he meant that to include lunch counters. He sidestepped. She said, “Mayor, do you recommend that the lunch counters be desegregated? ” West said, “Yes,” and the battle was won. Within days, integration began” (Weier, 2001). While civil rights activists were fighting on the home front, African American men and women honorably performed their duties in two world wars. They bravely entered a military that was at odds about their presence and the appropriate roles for blacks.

While more than 400,000 African American soldiers were going through basic training, receiving their assignments or facing the enemy’s bullets in World War I, riots against black citizens were escalating in the United States. By the time the Second World War ended, over one million black forces returned home to the U. S. equivalent of apartheid. Yet, with the knowledge of conditions at home, black soldiers still distinguished themselves in battles for freedoms, which they were unable to enjoy (Blakely, 1999).

Discrimination was popular in the 1900’s and African-Americans stood up to be treated as equal Americans as the whites, especially in the World War II. “While willing to fight for their country, some also made a stand against discrimination while they served. For example, on April 12, 1945, the U. S. Army took 101 African American officers into custody because they directly refused an order from a superior officer. This was a serious charge because, if convicted, they would face the death penalty” (Bowles, 2011). They wanted to get acknowledged for their bravery and accomplishments in the war just the white soldiers.

America waited decades for the African –American soldiers of the World War II to get the proper acknowledgements they deserve, which was too little too late. “These men were willing to die for the country; they were not eligible for many of the honors for their service. Though many deserved it, no African American could receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery. Bill Clinton corrected this error 50 years later, bestowing the medal on seven men, but just one, Vernon Baker, was still alive (Bowles, 2011).

These men were known as the Tuskegee Airmen and most of them died before receiving their honors. There were numerous movements and people, even African-American women whom had a hand in battling for equality. They had to fight not only for equality from racism, but also dealing with being judged by their gender. “The Women’s Service Section (WSS) investigated federally controlled railroad stations and yards at the end of World War I. Few women worked in car cleaning before the war, and railroad management preferred to block women workers, especially African Americans, from gaining any kind of foothold in railroad work.

African American women were the single largest group of railroad car cleaners during this period but they were routinely denied adequate facilities, including toilets, locker rooms, and dining facilities throughout the railroad system. By raising the issues of facilities, workers’ rights, and public health, these women shaped federal policy and widened the agenda of the WSS to include a direct attack on segregated workplaces” Muhammad, (2011). Black women wanted to have the same rights as others for going to school with safety and security. “In Brown v Board of Education (1954) the Supreme Court reversed its ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson.

They held that school segregation was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. This case marked the end of legal segregation in the US”. There were other significant African-American movements that changed history. “Starting in the 1960s, blacks in Akron began to push for an end to discrimination using various tactics, such as political action, workshops, and employment drives. Opie Evans edited the Akronite and began pushing for changes in his magazine. Protests widened to include sit-ins and other demonstrations” (McClain, 1996).

African-Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr .and Malcolm X have become icons of the 1950’s and 1960’s, but the organizational skills and grassroots activism of women such as Ella Baker , Septima Clark , Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer propelled the movement forward to many successes and inspired a new generation of activists. African-Americans have come a long way fighting for equality and freedom every since the slavery time. They won their freedom and more equality than the ever had along with ending segregation. Many things have changed over the centuries, but African-Americans still fight everyday for different types of acknowledgements.

They have fought hard to end segregation, most of discrimination, and isolation to attain equality and civil rights. References Blakely, Gloria. (1999). The 20th Century in CP Time: 1900-1949 — We are a People. Sentinel,p. A8. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 490544881). http://proquest. umi. com/pqdweb? did=490544881&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=74379&RQT=309&VName=PQD Bowles, M. D. (2011). American History 1865- Present, End of Isolation, San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved on June 11, 2012 from https://content. ashford. edu/books/AUHIS204. 11. 2/sections/sec3.

7 Lawson, S. F. (2009). “Segregation. ” Freedom’s Story, TeacherServe. National Humanities Center. Retrieved on July 16, 2012 from http://nationalhumanitiescenter. org/tserve/freedom/1865-1917/essays/segregation. htm | | Mcclain, S. R. , (1996). The Contributions of Blacks in Akron: 1825-1895, A Doctoral Dissertation, Retrieved on july 17, 2012 from http://www. ci. akron. oh. us/blackhist/timeline/index. htm Muhammad, R. (2011). SEPARATE AND UNSANITARY: African American Women Railroad Car Cleaners and the Women’s Service Section, 1918-1920. Journal of Women’s History, 23(2), 87-111,230.

Retrieved July 16, 2012, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2377762701). http://proquest. umi. com/pqdweb? did=2377762701&sid=3&Fmt=3&clientId=74379&RQT=309&VName=PQD Weier, A. (2001). She Socked Segregation Civil Rights Leaders Still Inspires Students, Madison Capital Times. Madison, WI, Retrieved July 27, 2012 from ProQuest. http://search. proquest. com/docview/395202519? accountid=32521 Younge, G. (2000). She Would Not Be Moved. The Guardian. London, UK. , Retrieved July 28, 2012 from ProQuest. http://search. proquest. com/docview/245609939? accountid=32521.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 21 December 2016

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