The American civil rights movement

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Introduction

I’m going to write about the civil rights movement in the USA. I will write an “overall picture” of the whole movement. Then I will continue with writing about what I’ve been reading and something I watched.
At last I will tell you my own thoughts of the short stories, the facts I found and the film. What my reaction was of all this and what I knew about the movement before I started with this assignment.
I’ve read Maya Angelo’s short story “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and Ralph Ellison’s short story “The Battle Royal”. I’ve also seen Chris Gerolm’s film “Mississippi Burning”.

Background
You can say it all began 1876 after one of the most talked about American election “whites” in the south took over the political control of the region and formed one system of Democratic control.
“The blacks” voting rights were slowly suppressed and shortly there after violence against African Americans began to grow, even if the violence was most intense in the south the entire country got infected. A system spread across the nation and became known as the “Jim Crow” system and this system was holding on from this time (the late 1800) to the early 1950s. For more than 60 years the African Americans was exposed to racial discrimination and they were not able to do anything about it because the couldn’t vote or change the justice system.
This is some things that the African Americans were exposed to:
Racial segregation: The law stated that public facilities (like bus stops) and government services (public’s schools) had to split “white” and “colored” to different domains.
Exploitation: Prices on different products were different (often higher) for the blacks, the Latinos and the Asians. They were not aloud to get a job and they didn’t get any economic support from the government.
Violence: Black people (and Latinos in the southwest and Asians in California) were exposed to violence by individuals, organizations and even the police.
This is just some of the things African Americans got exposed to, they had live under strict law and they were treated like they weren’t worth anything, people looked down on them just because of the color on their skin.
But in the early 1950s “the blacks” started to get sick of the discrimination and the started to fight for their rights and their color, these events made a huge different and it was the beginning on a new future.

The American civil rights movement
I’m going to tell you about some events that happened in the 50s which was the beginning of the American civil rights movement.
Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks is also known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” she got her “nickname” because of the incident that happened on December 1 in 1955. The secretary of the Montgomery NAACP had taken the bus that day, the bus stopped to pick up another passenger who was white, according to the law was Rosa supposed to move from her seat and find another seat in the bus. But Rosa refused to get up from her seat, the bus driver James Blake asked her a several times but Rosa refused, instead she got arrested, tried and convicted for disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. When this event reached the black community did 50 African – American leaders decide to gathered up and form the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This was a protest against the social system that provided the separations between blacks and whites on the public buses. 50 000 blacks supported the Montgomery’s boycott and it lasted for 381 days. In Montgomery took 90 % of the African Americans part of the boycott , this effected the buses income with 80 % because of this did a federal court order Montgomery’s buses to stop the social system on the bus. The boycott ended in November 1956.
The organization that had directed the boycott was called Montgomery Improvement Association and the president of this organization was no other than the young Martin Luther King Jr. This protest made him a national figure.

Little Rock Nine
In Little Rock, Arkansas did a crisis emerge on September 4 1957 when the governor of Arkansas called out the National Guard to Little Rock Central High School. The reason of the call out was because of the nine African – American students that were going to attend the intergraded school. The nine students were going to attend the school because of their good grades. But only one of the nine students showed up the first day that was because she had never received the phone call that the rest of the students had got about the danger of going to school that day. The girl that had showed up was harassed outside the school by whites and she was put in a patrol car by the police just to protect her. The nine students had to there after be escorted by military personnel in jeeps to get to school.
This event had caught the president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s attention and he decided to place out elements of USA’s military airborne division to protect the students. The students were now able to attend the high school but they were still being harassed by the white students. Sadly was it only one student (Ernest Green) that graduated from the school. After the 1957 – 1958 school years the school decided to stop integrate and other schools followed. The Little Rock Nine

Martin Luther King Jr.’s death 1968
You can say that the year 1968 was the end of the American civil rights movement. The 4th of April 1968 was the day after Martin Luther King Jr. had delivered his famous “Mountaintop” sermon at Lawson’s church, on this day was King assassinated. He got shot 6:01 p.m. when he was standing on the balcony outside his hotel room. The bullet that had hit him entered through his right cheek which smashed his jaw the bullet traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder.
Martin Luther King Jr. tombs located on the grounds of the King center
On March 10 1969 did James Earl Ray confess the assassination on King (he however took back the confession three days later) he took a guilty plea and was sentenced to 99 year prison term.

Many people died under this time while fighting for their rights and respect. Under these 14 years the African Americans had gotten back some of their rights and they were not being discriminated any longer (not by the law anyway). Now they were aloud to sit were ever they liked in the bus, they didn’t need to stand in separated rooms while waiting and maybe one of the most important things, they were aloud to vote which meant that they could make a different.
Something I’ve read and watched

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”
The short story “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is written by Maya Angelo who is a black famous actress, singer, songwriter, dancer, teacher, historian, civil rights activist, stage and screen producer, editor, playwright, poet and author. She became all this despite her difficult childhood.
“I know why the caged bird sings” is one of her powerful autobiographical short story, there she writes about her life as a young black woman in the Unites States.

The short story is about Maya when she lived with her grandmother and when she was in a lot of pain because of the two big cavities that had begun to rotten to her gums. This was when black people weren’t aloud to go to white dentists which made it a lot more difficult to go and fix it. In the story you get to follow Maya and her grandmother when they are going to dentist, how the cruel racist world looked through a little girls eyes and how her grandmother fights so hard to help her granddaughter.
I thought the short story was interesting and good written you got an insight how it was to be black at that time. The author had written very detailed which made it easy to paint up a picture, I thought it was a bit more interesting when you found out that it was a true story and it had happened to the author her self.

Mississippi burning
The movie is about the murder investigation of three civil rights workers that happened in Mississippi 1964. The film is based on true story. You get to follow to FBI agents that are trying to solve these murders, but it gets harder when the police in the town won’t help them.
I thought the movie was good, I also thought it was horrible but it had nothing to do with the movie it was the story it self that I thought was horrible. When you haven seen this kind of movie you get another view of the civil right time, it’s one thing to read about it and another to see it. Even if you have seen movies about these events that happened around this time you can’t possibly imagine how it was for the black people to live in that kind of society.

My own thoughts
I thought the fact – finding part was the most interesting part, you could decide yourself what you wanted to know. You could find a lot of information on the internet and you could read speeches from big leaders that were in the civil right.
The things I reacted on were how incredible cruel white people could act, how they would make up laws that separated them and the violence against the blacks. The governments made it absolutely impossible for the blacks to make a different and defend them self which I would say were really cowardly. I don’t really understand how people could sit down and make up time just to write laws that would separate them from another race.
The only different between the whites and the blacks were the color, how could people work so hard just to make people feel worthless just because the way they look? For an example the Ku Klux Klan organization, why should it matter what race you are, you are still a human and to me it means that you are the same as me. You can have your own opinions but you should keep them for your self especially if it involves violence or murders.
Before I started with this subject I didn’t know so much about the civil rights movement, I knew about Martin Luther King Jr. And that the black people had to live under hard circumstances, but I can’t really say that I knew that it was a movement in the USA under that time. The new things to me were that the governments were “against” black people and that it excited laws.

Ending
I have learnt a lot of new things wh...

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Inactive member [2008-06-18]   The American civil rights movement
Mimers Brunn [Online]. http://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=10094 [2018-09-26]

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