The History of African Americans

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The History of African Americans

Jewish people had the horrific era ordeal of the Holocaust, Native Americans had to deal with the displacement of their people which lead to death, starvation and exposure to diseases while in en route to other locations. However one could suggest that African Americans had an extremely rough time, and till this day continue to have a rough time fighting for equality in all things.

This is to not downplay the horrific, and devastating things that happened to other ethnicities, but despite the unfairness, the injustice, the inequality, African Americans have always found a way to rise to the occasion and still find some gleam of hope that one day things will be fair.

African Americans have endured countless hardships, countless set-backs, and sometimes a seemingly never ending battle. Despite the way the United States have treated blacks from the time they brought slaves over to America on their ships, to this day in age, black people have not given up hope that one day all, especially African Americans will one day be treated equally.

This purpose of this paper is to enlighten the accomplishments of the African American race as an whole, and will outline the many trials and tribulations that African Americans have gone through, the many contributions they have made, as well as the relentless efforts blacks have made to not turn its back on the United States, despite the country many of times turning its back, or more-so looking the other way while morally wrong events took place, despite the fact that it seemed oh so many times that they took three steps forward only to be knocked back two.

Nonetheless they still prevailed and continuously paving ways and making things better for the next generation making harsh sacrifices, even to the extent of death. Immediately after the Civil War ended and Congress passing the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in 1865, no more than a year later former Confederate states started passing the so-called “Black Codes”. What this basically meant was that blacks were now allowed to legally be married, own property, and also have a limited access to the courts, and by limited it meant only when a white person was not being testified against.

They could not serve in state militias or on juries, vote, or even start a job without having the consent of a previous employer. They also came up with harsh laws for things that were beyond control such as making it a crime for being unemployed or making trivial offenses, handled on a felony level or with harsher sentences. It basically re-enslaved black people in another fashion by requiring blacks to sign yearly labor contracts, and if refused they risked being arrested and fined or typically forcing them into unpaid labor.

(Black Codes , 2013) In 1867 five all black colleges were founded: Howard University, Morgan State College, Talladega College, St. Augustine’s College, and Johnson C Smith College. These schools were actually established 26 years before the end of slavery. Some may ask why were these schools still needed in the first place, or still needed after schools were desegregated in 1954. Well the answer to that question is one of many.

For one we must examine this from a realistic angle, at that point in time education amongst African Americans was not encouraged by many whites during that time. Remember it was about 87 years between the time black colleges began existing and schools becoming desegregated. So one can only assume that there were many things done to discourage blacks from being educated such as making laws, and giving harsh punishments, burning down schools, or even extending to death, if discovered that one could read and was educated.

Originally starting out the purpose of black colleges were simply for one to teach others to become teachers, however it lead to being the foundation of many inventors, educators, CEO’s, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs, scientist, etc. People such as Oprah Winfrey, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr, Langston Hughes, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, and the list could literally go on and on. HBCU’s gave African Americans a sense of pride, dignity, and respect.

It helped lead to black people being able to achieve the dreams, that they saw their white counterparts achieving. As a matter of fact during the 80’s and early 90’s it was actually deemed cool to wear HBCU paraphernalia, and be college graduates. People such as Debbie Allen, Bill Cosby, and Spike Lee, promoted the education of African Americans through TV shows and movies, such as Spike Lee’s “School Daze”, and also on The Cosby show, as well as the spin-off of it entitled “A Different World”.

Which basically showcased the college life of black students, and it gave insight to show others that there are people who look just like them who goes to college. (Coleman C, 2013) After the Civil War in 1865, African Americans began feeling liberated, and they began seeking the same kind of lifestyles they observed their white counter-parts having, such as education, good paying jobs etc. The 20th century “gave birth to a cultural revolution, the era coined the “Harlem Renaissance had earned its status as “the capital of black America”.

(Williams, 2013)The existence of organizations such as the NAACP, The National Urban League, and individuals such as Marcus Garvey, African Americans were free to do what they pleased; they still searched for their identity, their “piece of the pie”. (A&E, 2013) In 1931 a case that included nine African American males and two white girls, showcased the injustice in the law when it contained African Americans. The Scottsboro Tragedy is the story of 9 young black males who hopped a train in hopes of finding work, but the only thing they ended up finding was a whole lot of trouble.

These nine young men were accused of raped by a 17, and 21 year old white woman. Not that it was anything new to black people, but it was a landmark case that brought to light how the justice system in America differed when the accused are African Americans. This case highlighted how no facts, no evidence, or any proof was used. These young men simply were guilty with no ability to be proven innocent. Keep in mind that the most these boys could have done was hoboing through the train, and possibly could have gotten into a altercation with the white boys and perhaps have gotten the better of them.

So for them to be accused of such a heinous crime as rape, showed just how much white people despised of black people. The majority of these young men would end up being falsely imprisoned, having the label of rapist pinned to their name, and go through three different trials that kept proving how the justice system was unfair, especially how one of the white girls recanted her story admitting that she fabricated everything and none of the young black men had ever touched her.

But of course in those times it honestly did not matter, because they didn’t have access to fair trial, proper representation, and neither did the whole “innocent until proven guilty rule” apply to them. (Group, Scottsboro: An American tragedy, 2001) For many years to come America, especially black America would see time and time again how race would play a major factor in the laws and more-so of who which laws apply to whom.

In the past years alone we have seen numerous cases of black men being accused of rape, when the evidence barely matched up, or if there were any evidence at all led to the unfar conviction of many black men who either spend many years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, only to be released because the DNA was not a match. Or the many black men who are beaten or killed by cops, specifically white cops, and the ruling comes back not guilt, and the legal systems tells people that it is ok for the police to shoot a unarmed main 50 times, when all he was doing was reaching for his wallet.

Despite the inequality, the unfairness, and lack of opportunities in America towards African Americans, that did not change the fact that black Americans felt the need to not only prove they were intellectually capable of the task that the military needed but also, to show patriotism of the African American race. Although it seems ironic how blacks were fighting to keep the freedom for a country where they struggled to have the basic freedoms of others such as equal opportunities when it came to education, job opportunities and basic respect from other individuals.

(Group, 2002). The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African American pilots who were at first seemed to be nothing more than the military carrying out orders to have a group of educated black pilots, but they soon became one of the main forces behind winning the war with their bombing escorts. The very interesting thing about these men was that all they wanted to do was to prove that they were just as intelligent, educated, and has just as much tenacity as the white men. But they were constantly harassed not only outside the military but also inside the military as well.

They were given missions that to be quite honest were nothing that proved they were capable of flying an aircraft. But as stated previously even after all their accomplishments and them fighting to keep the freedom of America, they still were treated as second or even third rate citizens, they were treated as if they never made contributions. 1945 marked the beginning of African Americans being able to not only express themselves, but keep current with events that affect s them, and topics that were directed toward black people.

Ebony magazine was established and it was and still is a monthly magazine. The magazine was catered to African Americans, and it discussed health, fitness, finances, love, and simply African Americans live and achievements. The reason why this magazine was and still is so pertinent to the black culture because the magazine is catered to African Americans, because it gave black people a voice, it gave a voice that was relevant to people of color, and the topics were pertinent to black people has a whole. Ebony magazine paved the way for future magazines such as Jet, Essence, Black Enterprise etc.

(Shahid, 2013) Malcolm X became one of the most influential people during the civil rights era, he was one of the first individuals to rejects the nonviolent civil-rights movement and integration, and became a champion of African American separatism and black pride (Davis, 2013). Now depending on who you ask, some may say X was one of the pioneers and his methods were necessary, and others may say he was nothing more than a trouble maker. But after careful research Malcolm X was a great man and it was not that he condoned violence, he condoned people standing up for themselves.

He only was stating facts and the facts were the non-approach was not achieving much, and in the meantime black people were being killed in the masses because they weren’t fighting back. A man who seemed to be the opposite of Malcolm X, well in approach to the issue of direction of dealing with the Civil rights of African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr, became one of the most influential pioneers and voices of the civil rights movement. His nonviolence approach was both highly criticized as well as commended.

(laureates, 2013) King worked diligently to establish racial equality, with his many sit-ins, protest and marches. He achieved many accomplishments in his lifetime, but that of course did not come without criticism because of his non-violent approaches, some people felt that King was furthering the slow progress of black people because they were not standing up for themselves. However his motive was the whole “kill them kindness” approach because he wanted to show that they weren’t just angry black people who wanted to fight, but he wanted people to understand what they were fighting for.

In 1966 Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seales founded the Black Panther Party, a radical black power group, in Oakland, California. This was an organization was like no other and for those who had hate and animosity towards black people, and were considering starting trouble were in for a rude awakening. Because this group of individuals were organized, and as ironic as it may sound they established themselves as protection of the neighborhoods because of the police brutality that existed.

And although they developed a reputation for militant rhetoric and clashes with the police. This was still an important time for African Americans because it gave the fire to stand up for themselves and basically fight fire with fire so to speak. The organization was short lived, and as certain research shows that certain federal, state, and local officials went through great lengths to discredit and destroy the organization, including but not limited to assassinations. African Americans have contributed a lot to not only this world but especially to the United States.

As a whole they have jumped over hurdle after hurdle, they have continuously bounced back after many set-backs, and when so called rules were set into place they made it their business to break down barriers. Black people have accomplished a lot of things and despite the United States always backing them up, or them moving extremely slow to make progress, African Americans are still striving to make things equal and fair. But with all that said despite their being a African American President in office black people are still a ways away from the “promise land”.

Because African Americans are still unfairly targeted by police, there is still gaps when it comes to getting loans, the rates on these homes, lack of good education, and fairness in jobs and pay. But no one can argue the fact that African Americans have made many contributions to the United States, despite the U. S. not always showing gratitude. Bibliography (n. d. ). Black Codes . (2013, April 13). Retrieved from The History Channel website. : http://www. history. com/topics/black-codes. A&E, T. (2013, April 13). Harlem Renaissance.

Retrieved from The Biography Channel website: http://www. biography. com/tv/classroom/harlem-renaissance#tgm Coleman C, D. (2013, http://hbcuconnect. com/history. shtml 14). The History of Historically Black Colleges & Universites. Retrieved from HBCU Connect: http://hbcuconnect. com/history. shtml Davis, O. (2013, April 14). Malcolm X about bio. Retrieved from Malcolm X Biography: http://www. malcolmx. com/about/bio. html Group, F. M. (Director). (2001). Scottsboro: An American tragedy [Motion Picture]. Group, F. M. (Director). (2002).

The Tuskegee airmen: They fought two wars [Motion Picture]. laureates. (2013, April 13). nobel prizes. Retrieved from Nobel Prize org: http://www. nobelprize. org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio. html Shahid, S. (2013, April 14). 65 Years Ago in News History: The Birth of Ebony Magazine. Retrieved from newseum: http://www. newseum. org/news/2010/10/65-years-ago-in-news-history-the-birth-of-ebony-magazine. html Williams, A. (2013, April 14). Harlem Renaissance. Retrieved from In Academic World Book. : http://www. worldbookonline. com/academic/article? id=ar246340.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 21 December 2016

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