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Fighting for equality-The Black Americans
"How should we punish Hitler?" a reporter asked a young American black girl towards the end of the Second World War. "Paint him black and bring him here" was the reply.
This bitter answer was the result of being treated as a second class human being, of being told no, you can't attend this school, have this job, live in this house, sit on this park bench. And the reason is that your skin is black.
- The black Americans are the biggest "minority" of America
- About 30 Million blacks are living in the USA, was is about 13 per cent of the total population
I. The History of Black Americans · 1501 Spain introduced slavery
- In 1619 Dutch traders brought the first shipment of African slaves to Jamestown, England's first permanent colony in the new world. Now it is the state Virginia
- Because of the growing importance of the plantation system, millions of slaves were brought to the States in order to work on cotton plantations.
- 1808 Slave trade was prohibited
- 1861-1865 Civil War
- 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation => End of slavery
- Reconstruction period gave first civil rights to the blacks, like the right to vote, but the people in the south found new ways like voting taxes of reducing the black's voting power · 1880-1890 New segregation laws, commonly known as "Jim Crow", officially separated blacks from all aspects of white society Jim Crow named after a character in a minstrel show, was a new system of segregation law, who should keep the blacks and the whites divided.
II. The beginning of the emancipation
The emancipation began in the Second World War. In 1940, the American army had only 2 officers, and the navy had none. Fewer than 4,000 men were serving the army, and most of them where supporting units. They were digging the dishes, loading and unloading trucks and serving food.
By this time, the blacks began to claim the right to get into higher positions. "we want to be soldiers, not servants"
- 1941 The American army and air force opened all types of positions to blacks · six months later the navy and the marine corps did the same
- 1948 Truman ordered "equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed Forces without regard to race, color, religion or national origin."
An important legal turning point came in
- 1954, when in a case called "Brown vs. Topeka" the Supreme Court declared segregated schools as illegal, black children should be allowed to attend every school. In September 1957 black children tried to enrol at the previously all white school in Little Rock, Arcansas. An angry mob gathered to prevent them. President Eisenhower had to send troops, and the children were admitted. This was the beginning of a long struggle for equal rights in education
- A milestone of the black struggle was 1955, when Rosa Parks got arrested after refusing to give up her seat in a bus. This led to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott.
III. The struggle of Martin Luther King
- 1929 born in Atlanta as a son of a clergyman
1944 he attended the Morhouse College at the age of 17 he was consecrated
- 1951 during his studies at Boston University he got interested in Gandhi's ideas · 1954 he got a job as priest in Montgomery
- 1955 Martin Luther King was asked to lead a boycott against the Montgomery Bus Company tell sth about rosa parks + bus boycott
- R.P. was asked to get up to giver her seat to a white guy, she refused.
-sent to jail; support by blacks of Montgomery & the Association for the Advancement of Colored people, they persuaded the Judge to release Rosa Parks, started boycott
- 1956 After 381 days of boycott the Supreme Court declared that segregation in public busses was unconstitutional.
- 1956-1963 King led a lot of non-violent protests against segregation.
King got president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC was organized by black clergymen all over the country.
- On a hot August day of 1963 Martin Luther King led a demonstration with more that 250,000 people, blacks and whites, to demand full racial equality. Here he held his famous "I have a dream" speech to millions of Americans in front of their TVs - read "I have a dream"
- 1964 Martin Luther King got the Nobel Price of Peace for his non-violent race integration, · in the same year the Civil Rights Act became law (equal treatment for all races) · 4.4.1968 Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis (Tennessee)
IV. The Black Muslims and Malcolm X
- "whites can help us but they can't join us. There can be no black-white unity until there is first a black unit. We cannot be acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves"
- 1925 Malcolm Little was born in Omaha · father was a Baptist priest
- when Malcolm was 6 years his father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan
- 1933 The Black Muslims were founded by Eijah Muhammad, who saw the white people as devils and had the idea of a black "homeland" of their own in the USA One important statement was : "There are many of my poor, black ignorant brothers preaching the ignorant and lying stuff that you should love your enemy, What fool can love his enemy?"
- 1946 he was sent to prison for burglary. in jail he got in contact with the theories of Muhammad, the leader of the black Muslims
- 1952 Malcolm joined the Black Muslims and took an X as his surname as a symbol for his unknown African ancestors.
In the following years, Malcolm became the most prominent man of the black Muslims · After an argument with Muhammad about John F Kennedy, Malcolm claimed that his assassination was his own fault,
- 1963 Malcolm X left the Black Muslims and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity
- 1964 After a journey to Mecca, Malcolm X gave up his idea of separation and began to fight for solidarity. He changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
- 21.2.1965 Malcolm X was murdered during a speech.
- 1975 Wallace Muhammad, the son of Eijah, changed the nationalistic mode of his organization and turned to a more peaceful religious side
V. The Black Power Movement and the Black Panther Party
After the assassination of Martin Luther King many blacks did not believe in a non-violent solution of the racial problem any more. They turned to the Black Power movement, Black Power taught that the only way for blacks to get justice was to fight for it. · 1966 The Black Panther Party was founded by Bobby G. Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, first it was a club for self-defense, and it said to all blacks to use their right to get their own gun
- 1967 Members of the party broke in the Californian parliament to protest against stricter weapon rules
- 1969 Two leaders of the Black Panther Party were killed by Policeman in Chicago what lead to violent protests all over America
- 1972 The Black Panther Party divided into a violent and a non-violent section and lost its importance
VI. Jesse Jackson and the political emancipation
In the 70s and 80s most blacks decided that voting was a more effective way to improve their position.
- 1971 Jesse Jackson, a former assistant of Martin Luther King's founded the civil rights movement PUSH (People United to Save Humanity)
- 1972 The Equal Opportunity and Employment Act was established
- 1970-1980 Many blacks followed the advice of Jesse Jackson to run for political positions Jackson told "Run, just run! If you run you might loose, but if you don't run, you are guaranteed to loose!"
- 1985 More than 5.000 of 50.000 elected officials in the US were black, including the mayors of L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington
- 1988 Jesse Jackson came close to being chosen as the Democratic Party's candidate for the Presidential election
- in 1989 Colin L. Powell became Chief commander of the army
- 1992 Illinois was the first state that was represented by a black woman in the senate
VII. The actual situation
Although the blacks achieved a lot, their situation is still worse than the of the white population
- More than 30 % are living below the poverty line
- Every third male black aged 14 to 35 is either in prison or in probation or parole · Just six percent of university absolvents were black in 1992,
- Many of the blacks live in very poor districts of big towns, like ghettos (picture!)
Read "The dream deferred" by Langston Hughes
- Quote paper
- Carolin Fügener (Author), 2000, Black americans, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/99278