Discussion on the Civil Rights Movement

1. How were black people prevented from voting despite the provisions of the Fifteenth Amendment?

The 15th amendment was intended to prohibit discrimination against voters on the basis of race or prior situations entailing servitude. Preceding the implementation of the amendment, each individual state had full authority to govern voter qualifications, and hence prohibited African Americans from voting. The primary objectives behind the 15th amendment were to establish Republican authority over the North and South, which would be accomplished with the votes of African Americans. The proposition passed in 1869, and was approved by the majority of states in 1870.

In a sense, the amendment was both successful and ineffective. Despite the fact that African Americans had the freedom to vote, resistance from those who opposed the amendment was strong. Opposition fought in many ways from violent voter intimidation to the establishment of grandfather clauses and poll taxes. This discouragement puts Africans Americans desiring to vote at a disadvantage, and the intimidation often kept them out of the polling booths.

2. Describe the process by which the separation between white and black Americans developed and was institutionalized throughout the South in the late 19th century.

Following the thirteenth amendment which abolished slavery in the United States, discrimination on the basis of race became a common occurrence by means of the establishment of the Jim Crow laws. These laws required the severe segregation of individuals based on racial background. To be specific, the Jim Crow laws led to the segregation of the military, public schools, public transportation, restrooms and restaurants for Africans Americans and whites, and were enacted from 1876 to 1965.

These were not to be confused with the Black Codes from 1800 to 1866, which limited the civil rights and liberties of African Americans. By 1954, segregated educational institutions sponsored by the state were deemed unconstitutional. By 1968, segregation was deemed unconstitutional, and it was disbanded by 1970. Racial discrimination in schools, businesses, the military, and the government became unlawful. Furthermore, separate bathrooms, drinking fountains and schools have vanished altogether in part due to the civil rights movement.

3. Assess the impact of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs on African Americans and the role of African Americans in his administrations. Be sure to comment on positive and negative impacts on African Americans.

Roosevelt’s New Deal has three primary objectives. The first was to aid the millions of Americans in financial suffering. The second was to boost the economy, and the third was to pass new laws in order to reduce the number of poor. The New Deal was also known as the three R’s: relief, recovery and reform. Many relief measures were established in a great effort to provide jobs to thousands of men, as well as agencies that gave money to the states to assist the very poor. Two laws were also implemented in an attempt to aid economic recovery. The first founded the National Recovery Administration, which would bring together businesses, employees, and the government in an effort to control competition amid businesses and protect workers seeking to organize unions. This particular goal, however, proved to be unsuccessful, as it favored only large businesses, most of which failed to follow the codes.

4. Of the many African-American heroes and heroines in the 1940s and 1950s, which of them had the greatest impact on American society and why?

In my personal belief, Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) had the greatest impact on American Society. From 1957 to 1968, King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than twenty five hundred times wherever he felt there existed injustice, riots and activity. King was the author of five books, and published several articles. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” was one particular work which caught the attention of many across the globe.

He directed many “peaceful” protests (marches), one of which brought 250,000 people to Washington D.C. where he gave his infamous speech, “I Have a Dream”. King was arrested more than twenty times, but was nevertheless awarded five honorary degrees and named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963. At the mere age of 35, King was the youngest man to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Assassinated in 1968, King will always remain a leader among African Americans for his relentless efforts in fighting for the civil rights and liberties of blacks in his time.

5. What role did “ordinary” or local people play in the civil rights movement? How did children contribute to the overall struggle for social change?

Many children contributed to the struggle for equality among blacks and whites in America. For instance, students participated in a sit-in on February 1st of 1960. The incident took place at Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, where four students (originally from an all-black college) sat at the segregated lunch counter to protest the policy of excluding blacks. The sit-in inspired many more of its kind throughout various other states such as Georgia and Tennessee. Furthermore, many “ordinary” locals played a role in the civil rights movement.

Freedom rides in 1961 for example were a means of protesting the segregation on interstate buses in the south. Eventually, these activists succeeded at ending segregation for passengers participating in inter-sate travel. Black voter registration organizing was another means by which local citizens could participate in the civil rights movement. This involved an organization that would assist black voters with registering, and to build organizations within the community. Clearly, without the participation from locals, these plans would have never been successful.

6. Why do to white Americans tend to live longer than black Americans? How has the black community dealt with the problems of AIDs/HIV?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that 48% of African American women and 39% of African American men in the United States were infected with genital herpes in comparison with the general U.S. figures of 21% and 11.5%.The AIDS epidemic has spread swiftly amid the African American population. By 1988, half of all AIDS cases identified in females in the United States were of African Americans.

One of the first groups to assist in gaining awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African Americans was the group, BWMT (Black and White Men Together), a gay community group based in San Francisco. The group also gave rise to America’s first black AIDS organization, the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. There are many social and economic factors that have led to higher levels of sexual HIV transmission amid African Americans. Higher levels of STDs among blacks for instance, ease sexual transmission of HIV.

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