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Civil Rights Essays

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Starting in 1895, several influential individuals began to reinvigorate the largely stagnated Civil rights movement, however, the extent of its development is called into question. The head of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington, was considered by the white community to be the voice of African Americans, as his status as a member of the “black elite” made him a more palatable choice to the white upper-class congressmen and senate representatives. He developed Civil Rights by openly encouraging the African-American population to work within the now-entrenched system of Jim Crow laws. “Washington’s cooperation with his white colonial authorities and promoters in Africa… were consistent with his public acceptance of most of the southern white racial practices… he urged negro peoples overseas as well as those in America to seek… interests within the existing political and social order”. Washington presented a new way to progress the Civil Rights movement, to gradually change the system through initial acceptance and supporting long-term reform, and his ideas gained credence as he seemingly had the respect of leaders and lawmakers. This is significant because it showed some, if only a little, acceptance of the possibility of change. The Atlanta Compromise was considered an outspoken acceptance of systems that were largely considered discriminatory and derogatory and garnered criticism, most notably from W.E.B DuBois. Upon Washington’s death he remarked “so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds,—so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this,—we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them.”4 This shows that Washington, despite secretly donating to African American organizations, was criticized by black civil rights activists for his public conservative views. This is significant because it shows that Washington’s compromise did not represent the ideal outcome or position for black activists, and it showed that true reform would not be able to be implemented while they continued to compromise.

The Judiciary are further shown to stagnate the Civil Rights movement and appease large white-owned institutions in 1896 to the detriment of African Americans in the Plessy vs Ferguson case. “A decision of the United States Supreme Court set the mold for whatever system of caste may be said to exist in the United States in the present day”5 shows the influence of Homer Plessy and his lawsuit against the State of Louisiana. Similarly to Wells, Plessy refused to be relocated to a “blacks only’” car. He was apprehended and while in court, his legal representatives argued that the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments were violated, however, the Supreme Court ruled six to one that no such violation had taken place. This was significant to the development of the Civil rights movement because this gave the increasingly popular policy of “separate but equal” a legitimate legal standing and upheld the principles of the “Jim Crow” laws that had weaved their way into the legislature of several US states. This shows that civil rights were at best stagnated, with the old order of supremacy being upheld by the highest court in the United States.

By 1900, Civil Rights had regressed since 1895. This can be seen in voter turnout in Louisiana, going from 130,344 registered voters to just 5,320 due to the increase in legislation that allowed for black voter disqualification. This shows that black voters were being silenced due to the extremely repressive measures enforced by discriminatory lawmakers and upheld by law enforcement, which is significant because it shows little to no change compared to 1877. The average national wage was $1165, whereas in Southern states it was just $509. This was widely considered by the North to be modern-day slavery and shows just how far Civil Rights had regressed. This is significant because this created a stark contrast in the quality of living between the more liberal north and the “Jim Crow” south. However, in 1905 the Niagara movement was founded by W. E. B. Du Bois, and in 1909 the NAACP was formed by a group including W. E. B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey. This marked the beginning of an officially organized mixed-race group dedicated to advancing civil rights. This is significant because the NACCP had, at its core, a focus on legislation and improving the judicial system that had plagued the advancement of Civil Rights and actively tried to constitutionally justify racism to maintain the status quo, and was the first earnest attempt at properly fighting Jim Crow laws.

Following this, the 1910s were a period of huge social and economic changes, including a seemingly positive shift in the advancement of civil rights. Grandfather clauses on literacy tests and education were found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court In the Guinn vs United States case of 1915, stating “the so-called grandfather clause of the amendment to the constitution of the State of Oklahoma of 1910 is void because it violates the fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States”6. While the case was seemingly a positive change, the State of Oklahoma and, by extension, most of the Southern states found new ways of disenfranchising black voters. This was usually achieved through a hefty poll tax or the literacy tests remaining in place. This shows a shift towards civil rights, only stopped by institutional legislation that remained in place. This is significant because it shows that although there was a shift towards positive change towards civil rights and true equality, there were still efforts being made to uphold the white supremacy entrenched in the South. However, 1917 saw American involvement in the First World War. Woodrow Wilson’s request to make the world “safe for democracy” was granted and 350,000 black men were drafted into segregated army units as a result, although over 750,000 were registered volunteers by 21st July 1917. As a result, there were significant numbers of jobs in industrial areas of the North such as Harlem available, leading to mass migration where 500,000 African Americans moved North. While the American troops were fighting, significant advancements were made to civil rights. Wages rose by 25 percent and attitudes towards black workers shifted during the war. This is significant because when white troops returned from the war, they grew resentful of those who had taken their jobs and had to compete with people they viewed as below them in status, leading to a sharp increase in racial tension. This all culminated in the Chicago race riots, where 23 black and 15 whites were killed and approximately 1000 left homeless, the majority black. This is significant because this shows that although civil rights had progressed during the latter part of the 1910s, there was still a significant amount of racism and intolerance. As Jim Crow and the status quo slowly began to shift, there was vocal and violent opposition and the red “summer of 1919 was primed for social destruction”.

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Malcolm X's Way Of Life: Research Paper

“Education is the passport to the future, for the tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”-Malcolm X. With that being said Malcolm X meant that you have to educate yourself in order to have a greater and better future. Malcolm X was an important and influential figure in history that had a positive impact because he was an activist and outspoken public voice of the Black Muslim faith, challenged the mainstream civil rights movement. Malcolm X was born...
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Malcolm X was an aggressive civil rights leader back in the early 1950s, who many African American people looked up to. Malcolm X was well known for his aggressive approach and harsh criticism of “White America”. Although he didn’t become known until he joined NOI and became an outspoken advocate for them, which led him to quickly rise and grow into who he is today. Malcolm X or Malcolm Little (as he was first known as), was born in 1925...
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To What Extent Was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the Result of Black Civil Rights Leaders?

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Malcolm X as a Famous Civil Rights Leader

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