I’ve decided to try something new, and it should be fun. During my lunch hours, I’ll take a little time, after I’m finished eating of course, to write a little something. It might be about politics, or it might be about sports. For certain, I’ll probably throw a bunch of history into these posts. If you disagree, or think I’ve made an error, please feel free to comment. I’ll continue to write about Green Bay locations, I’m just adding this for writing exercise purposes. My posts will be a culmination of a weeks worth of writing. So, on to my first topic..
I know little of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. That being said, I’m learning more as I age. So, I thought I’d write a few words, and I’ll compare past conditions to this modern age.
First, let’s start further back, and let’s take a look at the Civil War’s aftermath. The reconstruction amendments came about because of a hard push by Republicans. Some question the constitutionality of these amendments, particularly the fourteenth, because unconventional methods were used to secure their passage. But, with these, it seemed that the constitution finally echoed the Declaration of Independence, and the nation agreed that ‘All Men Were Created Equal.’
Yet, after the reconstruction amendments were passed, and many black men gained government seats, southern Democrats assaulted the reputations of Republicans. Many of these accusations of corruption were false. Yet, the Democrats prevailed in the South, and newly formed southern state constitutions, ones that insured black men equal rights, were consequently negated by newly elected whites. Although the Civil war had ended, African Americans were left impoverished and, due to new state voting laws, powerless to change their circumstance.
And as time wore on, and blacks appealed to the only branch of government where they stood any chance, which happened to be the Supreme Court, decision after decision rendered the reconstruction amendments useless. Of course, the justices used the constitution, and either a crazily loose, or a senselessly strict, interpretation to justify their rulings. Fact is, the majority of Americans were white, and the majority of whites were racist.
It’s hard to admit, but that’s cold hard facts. As we progressed towards the turn of the 20th century, a decision making segregation legal, known as ‘ Plessy vs Furguson’, seemed to deem racism as an acceptable practice.
Now, I’ll finally get to the Civil Rights movement. More to the point ‘Brown vs The Board of Education’. This happened to be a landmark decision. It quite literally set the United States on fire. The reason being, as it challenged school segregation, was that it challenged America’s social norms.
There were many focuses during the Civil Rights Movement. Mainly, racism had rendered countless injustices and hardships. That being said, I have just learned, through very interesting lectures, that school segregation was not tops on the African American must fight list. However, Thurgood Marshall, a brilliant legal mind, and later the first African American Supreme Court justice, thought he could overturn ‘Plessy Vs Furgeson’. If he prevailed, which he did, that decision’s precedent would be erased.
As a catastrophic result, Political and social melee ensued.
And I think, and this is important, that the world was paying attention. When a black man, with no criminal record, is sentenced to death for, get this, allegedly stealing his employer’s pocket change, the world can’t help but scrutinize. It’s hard to enter diplomatic relations, especially with African nations, when they’re aware that their race is maltreated in the nation they’re negotiating with. As you can imagine, striking an accord with such nations became difficult. How was the United States of America a place of freedom?
Needless to say, the Communist block’s propaganda machine appreciated the fuel. And it wasn’t a faulty stance; our country’s morals were literally a contradiction. All white juries in the South, coupled with KKK members sitting in municipality judges’ seats, left a no win situation for any black man.
So the world was watching, and Civil Rights leaders recognized this. I guess, as crazy as it may seem, the answer to them, and it had already begun, was to unite the black community and fan the flames. For racial equality, without a blaze large enough, no one would take notice.
Don’t get me wrong, the African American gatherings and marches were wholly peaceful. But they incited violence, sometimes from the police themselves. The more Martin Luther King Jr, and other brave black leaders, pushed, the more atrocious their oppressors appeared.
As a result, the Civil Rights Act was passed by congress. And guarantees like equal employment, and other giant social leaps were granted in the bill. As an added bonus, women’s rights were also included.
The Civil Rights Act was an incredible step forward. Today, we see it come to fruition. We have even seen a black man rise to the highest seat of government, and he served the maximum two terms.
I guess, if I say everything is fine and dandy, that would be a very misleading statement. During the Civil Rights Movement, police brutality was the average black man’s primary concern. Today, as we know through George Floyd’s murder, that issue is still trying to be resolved. Of course, the problem isn’t as prevalent now, that is if we were to compare it to the sixties, but it’s still a dilemma many inner city minorities face.
As far as jobs are concerned, and as we compare the conditions of employment, things have certainly improved. Granted, there is still a wage disparity, and blacks probably register with lower level jobs. Yet, if you look how far this nation has come, the opportunities for African Americans have definitely improved…and, I will confidently guess, they will continue to progress.
That’s a good sign, because a fair and competitive labor market strengthens the nation. And when everybody has opportunities, more people will flourish. As a result, if everybody performs to the best of their ability, and attain the highest position their qualified for, everyone benefits. It’s nuts to hold anyone back.
Socially and culturally, and I don’t know if it has to do with our history, in many ways, we’ve become naturally segregated. I mean, look at the media for instance. Whites and Blacks tend to listen to different music, watch different movies and indulge in different festivals. I don’t know if that’s actually segregation, but when considering demographics, whites and blacks fall under separate categories
Yet, as I consider these differences, I think eventually biases will fade. I say this because whites used to discriminate against one another. Irishmen were horribly treated in the past. Now, if someone mentions they’re Irish, no one bats a brow. It’s just the division between blacks and whites, sadly a blemish our nation still endures, was a discussion since the country’s inception. Our forefathers, for all their foresight and intelligence, failed to realize that slavery wouldn’t magically dissipate. What actually took place, and it really pisses me off, is that’s Southern whites desperately clung to their dominance over the black race. Hard as abolitionists, and those who fought for equal rights, tried,the KKK would not give up.
Now, today, the KKK is virtually nonexistent. But it took over a century to destroy that loathsome organization. So, we, as a collective nation, have made great strides. We haven’t eradicated those skewed perceptions, yet , as I had alluded, such points of view will gradually fade. I certainly hope they do.
America has always been a melting pot. Hopefully, in the future, our races will meld without much fissure. A world of peace, where people work for, and with, each other is the goal. I know we’ll get there!
Much of my information, not all, but most, came from a series of Constitutional history lectures. Professor Eric Berger, an accomplished law grad, is the source of what you read here.