Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Racism idea was that once the war

Racism has existed throughout all of history and continues to be prominent in today’s society. Whether spoken, unspoken, intentional or not, it still continues to ignite and fuel many disputes and actions around the world. Of course racism comes in many variations throughout history like via slavery, hate mail, hate looks, stereotypes, mistreatment in the workplace, etc. However, the most recognized racism in America was during the second reconstruction era because of the false hope African Americans were given when the North won the civil war on April 9th, 1865. The idea was that once the war was won, African Americans would be able to be free and live their lives in equality. That was very much not the case. As a freedman, Houston Hartsfield Holloway stated that: “For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them,”(African American Odyssey). Even though racism appears to be a significant issue in society today, nothing compares to the mistreatment and unjust fate African Americans experienced during 1955 to 1970. Between the KKK, the assassination of the Black Panthers, and many other events throughout this time period, African Americans were targeted among many other races. With focus on African Americans, government and politics involved themselves in societal hate that led to murders committed in cold blood, assassinations, and accessories to murders involving the KKK.         During this time period there were three presidents: Dwight David Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961, John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1963, and Lyndon Baines Johnson from 1963 to 1969. Eisenhower was a republican during his reign and he didn’t contribute to the violence, but he hadn’t contributed much time to the civil right movement either. Eisenhower did contribute to the “Freedom Ride” later on, but was still just as racist. During a dinner at the White house, Eisenhower told Chief Justice Earl Warren that “he could understand why White southerners wanted to make sure ‘their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big black buck,” (Black and Presidency). Although the comment seemed pretty harmless compared to what was going on during the 50s and 60s, the president is expected to have some couth while in office. John F. Kennedy was Eisenhower’s successor, but Kennedy didn’t really get a chance to reach his full potential since he was assassinated in 1963 in a completely unrelated incident. Lyndon Baines Johnson was very successful during the civil rights movement. Johnson had passed several acts allowing the progression for African Americans in the civil rights movement; one of the acts included the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was the Fair Housing Act. Although Lyndon was thought to be an advocate for African American, according to MSNBC, he loosely used the term ‘nigger’- in many variations including ‘negra’ or ‘nigra’- and even called the bill he signed in 1968 as the ‘nigger bill’ (MSNBC Lyndon Johnson 2014). Many thoughts surrounding politics during this time was heavily influenced by the law and order established from 1960s all the way to present day.All through history, African Americans have been targeted by law enforcement due to the color of their skin and the ‘threatening connotation’ involved with a black male in a racist society. These laws were established as a “backlash against civil rights,” this included: the three strikes law, tougher sentencing for crack cocaine, and the war on crime act. One might argue that these laws did not target in one race specifically, but instead was created to prevent crime with harsher consequences and that anyone of any race could have been arrested and given the harsh sentence. On the other hand, in 1960, the incarceration of African Americans was five times greater than the incarceration of white Americans (Pew Research Center 2013). Continuing with the rest of history and statistical studies, there has been a correlation between racism and the rates of African American incarceration. Studies have also found that there is a correlation to arrest rates and African American males due to increased exposure from low economic backgrounds and targeting by police officers. An African American officer during the riots of 1967, Ike McKinnon, says that: “he was driving home on the second day of the riots when he was pulled over by a pair of white officers who began shooting at him,” and that even as a police officer, he had to watch his back while in the force (WDET Public Radio 2016).         On August 28, 1955, a 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till was accused of flirting with a white woman and four days later he was found floating in the Tallahatchie River. There were two men who had taken Emmett Till and forced him to carry a seventy-five pound cotton gin fan to the bank of the river, then they told him to take off his clothes and beat him until he was nearly dead. After that, they shot him in the head, tied him to the fan and then threw his body into the river. Till’s body was so battered and beaten that his funeral should have been a closed casket, but his mother wanted everyone to witness what had been done to her son, that she kept the casket open. People attending the funeral and walking by the church said that, “the smell was so bad” and the sight of the body was never forgotten (Smithsonian).         In May of 1961, a civil right group called the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sent several African Americans and white people on a  ‘freedom ride’ on two bussed from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans; however, “the freedom riders were attacked by angry segregationists outside of Anniston, Alabama, and one bus was even firebombed,” (Black History Milestones 2009). Local law enforcement wasn’t too quick to act in the southern state, but eventually U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the state patrol to escort the freedom riders to Louisiana, where they would, again, encounter more violence. It can be seen that after this event and the acceptance by the Attorney General that this was a pivotal moment for African American and white people as the Interstate Commerce Commission “ruled that all passengers on interstate bus carriers should be seated without regard to race and carriers could not mandate segregated terminals,” (Black History Milestones 2009). On the other hand, during this time period there was a very intense presence of hate from a well-known supremacy group.The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded by a group of white supremacist, nationalist, and supported slavery and segregation of African Americans in 1865. Since then, there have been several groups stemming from the clan known as the Aryan Brotherhood, Nazi Low Riders, etc. The KKK supports and promotes violence against races they deem inferior to their own. The KKK was created after the first Reconstruction era after the North won the Civil War in the United States. The KKK was involved in many murders and disappearances in the late 1950s and 60s including the deaths of women and children.Judge Edward Aaron was an African American handyman, who was abducted in Birmingham, Alabama in 1957 by six Klansmen. They took the man to their meeting place and castrated him with a razor blade. The reason for the victim being mutilated was a test for B. A. Floyd, a member of the KKK; to see whether or not he would was “fit to be a Klan captain” (Prison Culture). Also, Willie Edwards was murdered in Alabama 1957. He was kidnapped and severely beaten in his car before being forced to jump to his death off a bridge over the Alabama River at gunpoint (Essence). In Alabama 1963, the KKK took responsibility for bombing the 16th street Baptist Church that killed four black schoolgirls between the ages of 11 and 14. The list continues for murders committed by the KKK; there was a case where a white woman seen riding in the car with a black man was shot twice in the head by four of the KKK members.Inspired by true events, the movie “Mississippi Burning” was based on the events that took place on June 21, 1964. In Neshoba County, Mississippi, three civil rights activists went missing after being released from police custody. After attending a church gathering, the three men were apprehended by local authorities on unknown charges, but were later released into the hands of the Klansmen. Their bodies were then discovered after a 44-day search that gained widespread national attention. Mississippi officials “downplayed the significance of the case” and called it a “hoax devised to garner sympathy for the civil rights movement” (National Public Radio).  The bodies were found buried in shallow graves at an isolated location and they were shot to death. There were no murder charges brought against the Klansmen and a few men served several years on federal civil rights charges, but the main suspects “escaped legal consequences” (National Public Radio).  The local police officers were often times working the KKK to seek the justice they believed were needed for the African Americans who were released from police custody. This isn’t the first case that has led to the death of innocent black people. Some of the police officers were official members of the KKK. The KKK was involved in numerous acts of lynching as well. They would ride into black communities covered from head to toe in white sheets on top of horses burning down homes and hanging black men. Yet, the Klan’s terrorism helped the human rights activists to gain national attention and support for their movement. Many people supported the Klan due to the African Americans demand for equality would threaten their social, economic and political order, which justified the group’s use of violence to ensure segregation and inequality.Majority of American history reeks of violence and bloodshed, but there were moments in the timeline when there were advocates for peace, love, and equality. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was among the peaceful protesters with hopes of equality and a love for people. King was known for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech and a leader in the civil rights movement in 1963. His famous speech was spoken to some 250,000 people of all races during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was considered “the largest demonstration in the history of the nation’s capital and the most significant display of the civil rights movement’s growing strength,” (Black History Milestones 2009). Remembered as one of the greatest speeches of all time and frequently quoted, the “I Have A Dream” speech is widely recognized across the nation as uniting and giving a voice to the civil rights movement and their ideas. To quote from his speech, King says “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and this sentence took the movement to another level (Black History Milestones 2009). The movement was empowering for African Americans; it was fueling their desire for equality, not just for themselves, but also for their families. This speech was considered a defining moment for the civil rights movement and it was also King’s debut as one of the most influential figures of this time, who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize. However, this will not last. Five years later, on April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been gunned down and killed on the balcony of his motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Many believe that this event caused a major discourse in the black and white communities because African Americans saw this tragedy as a “rejection of their vigorous pursuit of equality through the nonviolent resistance,” (Black History Milestones 2009). MLK’s death was thought to be a politically motivated assassination and caused a further disconnected with African Americans and local government as well as local law enforcement.Before MLK was shot to death in 1968, thanks to his campaign of nonviolent resistance the civil right movement began to takeoff. The civil rights reform act, part of Kennedy’s campaign platform before he was assassinated, was being reviewed and debated by congress in July of 1964. After the death of Kennedy that bill fell into the hands of the successor, Lyndon Johnson, who had no prior involvement or engagement with the civil rights movement. This act was to ensure more protection for citizens from discrimination “on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin”; it mandated the desegregation of most public places like public transportation, parks, swimming pools, and some restaurants. Also, the act guaranteed equal voting rights as well as equal treatment of minorities in the workplace with the establish “Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” (Black History Milestones 2009). A copy of the signed act was presented to MLK and was a representation of the accomplishments of the civil rights movement and those who supported the cause and won. Although it would take a few years for this act to be completely inherited by the public and law enforcement, the Civil Rights Act was the biggest achievement of the movement in 1968. Many believed that with this act, their movement was finally being recognized and taken seriously; yet, the years to follow will prove deadly for African Americans involved in politics.In the beginning of 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. also lead the march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama with the focus on African Americans ability to vote. Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, was opposed to desegregation and recognizing African Americans as worthy of voting rights. With the governor’s public discrimination, people couldn’t help, but to adopt the mindset of one of their leaders at the time and it didn’t help that many people were raised in a racist society where it was considered ‘common knowledge’ that African Americans weren’t considered American people in the eyes of the law. In February of 1965, an Alabama state trooper had shot a young African American Jimmie Lee Johnson, while Johnson attempted to protect his mother from the trooper’s nightstick. Leaders of the Selma march began a massive protest march in response to the murder and on March 7, “600 marchers got as far as the Edmund Pettis Bridge outside Selma when they were attacked by state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas,” (Black History Milestones 2009). Action was not taken against the state trooper that had killed the African American, but when the riot of March 7 had been televised many Americans were enraged and drew many more protesters to Selma, Alabama. Even with the support of other Americans, it wasn’t enough to stop the hate and violence. The next few years will prove fatal for protesters and civil rights activists.Also contributing to the civil rights movement, the Black Panther Party (BPP) was founded in 1966 by co-founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The BPP was an all black political party that encompassed elements of socialism and nationalism for African-Americans, which started as a protection group against police brutality in Oakland, California. Malcolm X, a African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist, had great influence on the party and their Ten-Point program that included equality in education, the workforce, court, prisons, and overall peace for the people. The Black Panthers’ guiding principle was an “undying love for the people,” and they wanted to collectively defend people from white oppression (Huffington Post). The group never used the word ‘fight’ in their guiding principles or Ten-Point program as a way of showing that there party was not a group of “thugs and outlaws”, but instead an advocator for peace.         As the party began growing in size and support, the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ leader, J. Edgar Hoover, became concerned with the party’s leader Fred Hampton. In one of his speeches, Fred Hampton said the words: “we won’t fight racism with racism, but we will fight racism with solidarity,” (Speech 1960). Fred Hampton was known as educated and charismatic political speaker that reached people in a different way than other political leaders had at the time. Unlike many politicians at the time, Fred Hampton had only two groups: the oppressed and the oppressor. By differentiated the groups into only two categories, he united international groups who felt oppressed as well. Although Fred Hampton was loved by his community and known as a revolutionary, he would soon die by hands of FBI members.         The FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, was involved in secretly monitoring the activities of the Black Panther Party throughout the 1960s. Fred Hampton had been involved with cleaning up the streets and gang violence as well as creating four more Breakfast programs for children and free healthcare clinics. On the other hand, the FBI perceived the BPP to be a terrorist group and a direct threat to the public. Fred Hampton hadn’t been in a leadership position for more than a year before Hoover deemed him as the “black messiah”, who has now become a “potential threat to the internal security of the country” (Marxist). The FBI had created many plans to infiltrate the Black Panther Party; even going as far as using Hampton’s own bodyguard as a pawn in their scheme.  On December 4, 1969 at four in the morning, the police raided Fred Hampton’s home and fired between “82 to 99 gun shots” with only one of them coming from a Black Panther member, Mark Clark-who was also shot and killed during the raid (Huffington post). The FBI had the entire raid planned out from the map of the house, from the bodyguard, to the number of police officers with automatic weapons. The murder of Fred Hampton had been premeditated and Mark Clark had been a victim of circumstance. However, a lot of the people in the home were wounded, but out of the three other people in Hampton’s bed, including his eight-months pregnant wife, no one had any fatal wounds. Hampton had been shot three times as he was sleeping, unarmed in his bed.         Fred Hampton had been a beacon of hope for the African American community after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. the year before. Politics has played a crucial role in the development of racism and how African Americans are expected to handle the loss of human rights activists in their communities being gunned down and bombed. History for African Americans has been a long and gruesome one; yet, no actions have been taken against the members of that police raid.                 The purpose of this research was to examine the political and government involvement in the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1970 and to assess the negative impacts of each set. Although there were many positives that came out of the civil rights movement and the advocates that supported the equality, there were many devastating losses to the black community that extended the movement longer than what might not have been necessary. To refrain from speculating on the ‘what ifs’, racism has been proven to be impenetrable in societies. Anywhere there are people of different races, there is going to be racism. Even today, there is modern slavery in Libya, there are attacks on certain races of people, there is racism in the hallways of schools, and there is racism in law enforcement and so much more. African Americans, who have endured slavery, torture, mutilation, and much more violence, but they are not the only race to experience the hatred from Americans. At one point, Native Americans were the most despised, as well as the Japanese, Chinese, Irish, and Mexicans. The commonality of each race is that they’re different; they represent the unknown and they’re aliens to the standard American of the 18th and 19th centuries.It has been proven to be difficult to limit research to just the African Americans in 1955 to 1970, when right now, in American society, there is still a strong gap between races. Although men and women of every color and creed are not always given liberty and justice as promised in the Constitution, America has made great progress from the bondages of slavery to the elected African American president, Barack Hussein Obama in 2008. Racism is still very prominent in the government and especially, in politics with America’s new elect; yet, African Americans have become a part of the American society and African Americans have grown and developed from poverty stricken ghettos from the 1960s and segregated, underfunded schools to well-educated professionals.    


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