African History Essay, Research Paper
1John Jacobs Mrs. CrosbyUS History and GovernmentFebruary 27, 1998 African American History The Civil Rights of African Americans has been a long, ongoing struggle in the United States. The movement was initially advanced through the amendment process, an essential method of change in our government. The thirteenth, four-teenth, and fifteenth amendments furthered the development of civil rights by abolishing slavery, defining and extending citizenship and granting suffrage to African Americans during Reconstruction. When Reconstruction ended, many of the advances were lost as de jure and de facto segregation took root throughout the United States. The Civil Rights movement made strides through other methods of change. A few of those methods of changes are Civil Rights organizations, Supreme Court cases, Presidential actions, and Congressional legislation. The most famous Civil Rights organization in the United States which increased the civil rights of every black American is the NAACP(National Association for the Jacobs 2Advancement of Colored People). This is an interracial American organization that was created to strive for the abolition of discrimination and segregation in education, employment, transportation, et cetera. The NAACP was founded in 1909 by a group of blacks led by W.E.B. Bu Bois and was the product of the Niagara Movement. The NAACP furthered the development of Civil Rights in the United States. In 1915, the NAACP boycotted the motion picture Birth of a Nation due to the biased view towards blacks. This organization has strongly supported voting rights for minorities. It secured the end of the grandfather clause. The Civil Rights of African Americans were greatly advanced by the ending of this clause. Because of this, all blacks, no matter if their grandfathers voted or not, were allowed to vote in elections. Then National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had and still does have a strong effect on the outcome of Supreme Court cases. For instance, Brown versus Board of Education was a landmark Supreme Court case. This case took place on May 17, 1954 in Topeka, Kansas. This was brought about because minors of the African race were denied admission from public schools. The court held that state-prescribed public school segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution. It declared that separate educational facilities were unequal. This case severely struck down racially enforced school segregation. The result of this case was a giant step towards complete desegregation of public schools. Jacobs 3 Congressional legislation has played a key role in assuring the civil rights of African Americans. Through the years, Congress has passed laws and acts to try to guarantee equal rights. However, not all of the laws passed have been effective. Congress first attempts has been the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1875. More successful attempts are the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 1964, and 1968. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, in my view, is the most important of them all. This act was adopted during the spring of 1968. It guaranteed civil rights workers protection by the federal government and included a plan for open housing. This plan forbid the discrimination in the selling and renting of all housing excluding owner-occupied-home sales. The standard living, health, and housing of blacks have increased. Through these clauses, the Constitutional rights of every African American have increased and African Americans and Caucasian Americans are now equals. From this, you can see that the civil rights of blacks have benefited greatly from these clauses.
Another great method of change which furthered the development of Civil Rights in the United States after Reconstruction ended are Presidential actions. Many presidents have encouraged blacks to go after their rights. President Truman had urged Congress to adopt powerful civil rights laws and to enforce the laws after World War II. This hurried along the end of discrimination. One specific example that shows the effect that presidential actions had on the civil rights of African Americans is the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. President Johnson organized Jacobs 4the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate the violence and riots in the inner cities in the summer of 1967. This was known as the Kerner Commission and was headed by Governor Kerner of Illinois. This was the most thorough federal study concerning the problems between the different races. The study showed that desegregation was on the rise and that there were gains made involving civil rights. Although the study showed there was a greater under-standing among the races, it did, however, show that the housing, education, and jobs of blacks had not gained much. This commission informed us of the con-sequences that would follow if we continued to be ignorant. President Johnson was a very important person during the civil rights era. He had played a major role in protecting the rights of blacks and increasing their living. In the last forty years, civil rights for African Americans have grown stupend-ously. In the 1950 s and 60 s, our nation was moving towards two societies, one black, one white- separate and unequal (Kerner 1968). Whites didn t even look at blacks and now blacks and whites get married, share the same toilet, and even have kids together. We have gone from a society filled with ignorance to one filled with understanding. Jacobs 5
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