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African Americans Civil Rights


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African Americans Journey to attain Equality and Civil Rights

African Americans Journey to attain Equality and Civil Rights
African-Americans have been fighting to end segregation and discrimination ever since slavery began. The “isolation” on which they endured to attain civil rights and equality was crucial at this point in time. In relationship to their work to end slavery, the technology, politics, military, culture, and society played a huge role. This role was persistent when African Americans were slaves and when they began to break free from being known as property. At times, the ending of isolation had resulted of periods of tension and struggle. African Americans have worked hard to end segregation through the non-violent strategies of sit-ins, boycotting, and their massive resistance to give in to their freedom (Bowles, 2011). The enduring fight and struggles to end racial discrimination plus attain equality and civil rights have, and will continue to be an ongoing battle for existing and future African-Americans. The strategies that African Americans used to end this discrimination have been influential and will be forever known in history as strong individuals because they endured beatings, were thought of as property, and had to fight for any type of rights but they still fought for freedom and against the injustice of slavery.
The fight for slavery started many years before the first slaves came to the United States. The history of slavery in the United States even dates back to the early fourteenth century (The Gale Group, 2000.Slavery. Para.2). In the 1600s, African Americans began to be shipped to North America as slaves. Even in this era some did not support slavery, but the majority of people saw it as being acceptable. Many Africans lost their lives during their initial struggle of fighting for their freedom. The typical life of a slave was to work on a plantation picking cotton and working in the fields (The Gale Group, 2000. The Plantation.Para.4). On top of this Slavery would also cause additional loss of life resulting from the destruction of dignity, pride, the displacement of family members, the loss of personal freedom, brutal mistreatments, rape, whippings, poor hygienic conditions, and inadequate nutrition provided by slave masters. From years on African Americans would then endure more discrimination and unfair treatments. When facing the Reconstruction Era there was finally some light for slavery.
Most African Americans who were part of the Reconstruction that began in 1865 had previously been slaves brought to America from Africa. The Reconstruction era lasted from 1865 to 1877 and was an effort to repair the broken nation after the Civil War. Today, historians attribute slavery as the main reason for the Civil War. In fact, many believe that slavery was arguably the essential issue because it led the nation into two diverging directions that ultimately led to the most deadly war in American history (Bowles, 2011.Chpt1.1. Para.1). The Civil War did not bring an end to racial hatred and violence in the South, because peoples view of slavery were not changing. Therefore this was not beneficial to African Americans and is a point in time where they faced the battle of gaining rights and segregation. They could not work at any jobs other than farming, could not own firearms, were restricted to where they could travel, and were not allowed to vote (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.1.1Para.10). Most African Americans could work on the previous land where they were enslaved for food and small payment for the crops that were harvested. Many who worked the farms became indebted to the landowners because they were never paid enough to save money in an effort to leave (Bowles, 2011. Chpt.1.1.Para.11). Many of the whites from the south did not agree with the freedom of slaves, and they would capture them to torture or murder them. Some whites even did not inform the slaves of their freedom, so many continued to work under the slave-master relationship. Some African Americans did not know they had a law on their side to break free from slavery.
Though the Thirteenth Amendment freed the slaves, racist beliefs remained in both the North and the South. This freedom did not go smoothly with the whites, and many of the slaves found that they had nowhere to go and no promise of a successful future in America. The aftermath of the Reconstruction era ending in1877 resulted in the Southern State governments enacting Jim Crow laws to legally segregate the races and impose the citizenship of African Americans. In its ruling in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, the Court made clear that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment provided no guarantee against private segregation (Jim Crow Laws, 2001. Para.2). After the slaves were freed is when the problem began because they were not given rights when they were freed so many tried to restrict where they could go, what they could do. Many whites were mad about Africans being treated equally and did not want to eat in the same restaurant, have their children go to school with blacks, use the same water fountain, or even use the bathrooms. Segregation was not politically noticed until the Plessy versus Ferguson case, which was a Supreme Court case in 1896. In which the Court ruled that blacks and whites should have separate but equal facilities (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.3). Segregation is known as keeping ethnic, racial, religious separate. An example of this is enforcing the use of separate school and other facilities due to ethnicity. The Supreme Court's decision then established these “separate but equal” facilities for whites and blacks were allowable under the U.S. Constitution. Local governmental officials could designate separate public facilities like drinking fountains, restrooms, and schools. Even courthouses often had separate Bibles according to the defendant's race (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.3).
On the other side of The Civil Rights Movement stood another great challenge against African Americans, which were known as hateful groups. These hateful groups were formed in 1866. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was one of the most powerful and feared groups. They extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a role model for white southerners who wanted to rebel the new policies (The History Channel, 2012.Para.1). Members of this group used the technique of intimidation and violence directed at white and black republican leaders; as well as black citizens. Though Congress passed laws designed to stop the Klan’s terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal to reestablish white supremacy in the south. After a decline, white groups revived the Klan in the early 20th century burning crosses, killing more blacks, and holding many rallies to voice their opinion (The History Channel, 2012.Para.4). The civil rights movement also saw its fair share of issues dealing with the Ku Klux Klan. These incidents consist of bombings of black schools, churches, and violence against black or white activists in the South. By 1870, the Ku Klux Klan had branches in nearly every southern state. Even at its height, the Klan member would often wear masks and dress in the organization's signature long white robes and hoods (The History Channel, 2012.Para.4). They typically carried out their attacks at night, acting on their own but supporting their thoughts and opinions against blacks or anyone helping assist blacks. It was a hard process and led to even more racial issues for African Americans to endure.
Through this process many African Americans endured the cruelty of Isolation. Isolation is known as being separated or separating somebody from others, or just the simple fact of being alone. Of course African Americans were segregated before, but that was because they were believed to be property not people. Now African Americans were going to fight against this discrimination and fight for their rights to be recognized at the same status level as a white person. There were several different approaches by African Americans to improve their situation. One was a conservative approach, first articulated by Booker T. Washington, a former slave who used higher education to create a better life and escape poverty (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.2.3 Para.20). Others took matters in their own hands and we can use such examples that include: Sit Ins, Freedom Riders, and their marches and protests with Martin Luther King Jr. Through these different techniques African Americans risked the chances of being shot, killed, or tortured. The civil rights movement was vitally important; there were also countless local organizations that were essential in supporting strategies like the boycotts. This was for from over The Civil Rights Movement which was during the critical years from 1954 to 1963, a variety of leaders with different backgrounds lawyers from the NAACP, women sitting on buses, ministers from southern black churches, militants from black power organizations, and youth from colleges shaped the successful struggle toward black equality in America. (Bowles,2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.1). These included women's political councils, the NAACP, local churches, and black community organizations (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.19). Furthermore, the long process and through this they endured much suffrage and perhaps even left the world in a very cruel way.
The year 1954 was perhaps a very memorable moment in the civil rights movement because this was the year of the Supreme Court's ruling on Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.2). It all started with a man named Oliver Brown who wanted to have his daughter go to a local white school, but since she was African American she was turned down. After Oliver was turned down by the school, he went to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to fight to get his daughter in the school. After losing the case in the state courts, the NAACP decided to take the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4.Para.2). They appealed to the Supreme Court. This case was so important because it finally it was trying to be solved by acknowledging what the constitution wanted and how to find a remedy. Since the court was not clear on what the constitution wanted, there were a lot of tough decisions to be made. The real question that lied behind this was being educated in a one race school with a non discriminating basis the answer to this remedy? The challenge was clear, and it would be an historic decision to choose the end of being separate, and to fully be acknowledged as equal. This was a huge challenge for African Americans especially after what they endured to be considered equal, and yet they were supposed to be considered equal but still had separate facilities (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.4.4). This was the turning point in history that led African Americans to fully be considered equal. Meaning they were free to attend any white school and get an education. It was a hard decision that not only changed their lives, but also led whites to be more challenged to accept this change.
Though many African Americans struggled they soon gained their rights and even had the opportunity to vote. The legal end to slavery in the nation came in 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was put into effect, but what most people don’t realize is that it was a long battle from then on that finally brought blacks to gain civil rights (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.1.2). Through their hard work and battles they achieved freedom and a place in history in text books acknowledging their hard and painful journey. Our country is now considered the land of the free and the land of opportunity but it hasn’t always been so. Everyone is treated with more dignity and respects now than they were during the era of slavery. Slaves were miss-treated and abused, which altered who they became and who they turned out to be and what they could accomplish. The abuse that slaves endured is what truly affected their identity in the long run. The slave owners beat them on many occasions, not solely on what they did, but more for a feeling of power. There are plenty of stories about slaves and the type of abuse they experienced and how it affected the way they lived and what their future held. Slaves had been fighting to be free for hundreds of years, and they finally got peace. It was not an easy or happy process, but the results have lasted to the present and are encouraging and inspiring to others to appreciate freedom and rights.
The enduring fight and struggles to end racial discrimination plus attain equality and civil rights was a painful and long process. It continues to be an ongoing battle for existing problems that racial judgments still can bring on. The fight is well over but there are still some hard feelings that linger against African Americans. Racism is still brought on even presently and will only subside until those learn to truly judge by the heart and not the color of others skin. In the end a successful but painful battle was won by African Americans. They achieved everything they desired which included their freedom, dignity, education, and the ability to be able to attend the same schools and stores as white people. They may or may not be able to change the minds of many, but they are free to be heard. African Americans can now have a voice and use it without being beat or hurt because of the amendment and its interpretation (Bowles, 2011.Chpt.1.2). The fact that color has nothing to do with the amount of courage in a person is inspiring and can truly be a lesson learned. African Americans have just as much opportunity as anyone else because they fought for it. It is a hard to have to imagine fighting for your rights when it seems they are already placed into the laps of people who are citizens. The strategies that African Americans used to end this discrimination have been influential and will be forever known in history as strong individuals that endured beatings, were thought of as property, and had to fight for any type of rights but they still fought for freedom and against the injustice of slavery


Bowles, M. (2011). A history of the United States since 1865. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint

Jim Crow Laws. (2001). In World of Sociology, Gale. Retrieved from

Ku Klux Klan. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 10:52, August 19, 2012, from SEGREGATION. (2000). In Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century.
Retrieved from

SLAVERY. (2000). In Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. Retrieved from
PLANTATION, THE. (2000). In Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. Retrieved from

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