The African-American's struggle is rooted in a culture of resistance that made it possible for them to survive the human bondage horrors and the ninety years of economic terror, genocidal racist violence, and extreme poverty. African-American forged a culture of struggle and institutions during the hard fights refusing to accept the insults, indignities, and the slavery. The paper focuses on how African Americans with their limited social mobility managed to establish institutions that aided them to deal with racial segregation present in society of those times.
The worldwide economic depression in 1930s strengthened the African Americans’ tendency to find advancement with the help of interracial civil rights reforms and political movements. Some black people both intellectuals and artists became members of a communist party that was associated with the ideal universal rights and adopted the idea that people of color can play a key role in the transformation of the African-American society.
To begin with, Paul Robeson and Du Bois were active members of the communist party in the 1940s and 50s with the thought in mind to start the resistance against segregation. The political activity of the African Americans involved electoral participation and efforts to fight racial discrimination through lobbying efforts, litigation, and protests. After the end of 1932, most of the African Americans supported the Democrats in the country level elections. The national black leaders participated in interracial coalitions that favored civil rights reforms. March on Washington movement held in 1941 and led by Philip Randolph, the Black Union leader, showed the potential of protests organized to bring changes in civil rights (Dierenfield, 2013). This forced President Franklin Roosevelt to create a committee for fair employment.
Although Randolph succeeded in using protests and threats to gain concession, non-violent strategies, and direct actions that had some practitioners outside CORE, an interracial group established in 1944. Additionally, the black soldiers participated in the World War II intensifying racial equality demands. However, ten years from the war, civil rights lobbying and electoral politics characterized the life of the African American as opposed to mass activism. Both the Black Nationalist (radicals) and the socialists had little influence and impact on the black politics. The NAACP defined the agenda for the civil rights; however, after the bus boycott movement in Montgomery, NAACP faced stiff competition from native groups motivated by the African independent movements that had links to the black churches and colleges and employed nonviolent protest tactics.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., a key figure in famous Montgomery unrest, was a success and a good sign to start subsequent protests in Birmingham and Selma communities. Additionally, the leaders of the organizations used appealing approach to the federal government as a way of conveying their views (Boyce, 2008). Basically, CORE started as series of Freedom Ride campaigns that put pressure on the federal government to disregard the interstate travel racial discrimination.
The student leaders formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) uniting the efforts that were aimed at achieving the rights for the black people to vote in Alabama, Mississippi, and Southwest Georgia. The protest movements in the south pushed the government to enact both the 1964 Civil Rights Acts. The committee mobilized university students to protest led by J. Bond (Murphree, 2013). As a result, the acts banned segregation in public facilities while the 1965 Voting Rights Acts removed the discriminations that prevented the people of color from voting. As the southern protests were gaining the milestone in civil rights, they revived African Americans racial consciousness. The sentiments of Black Nationalist in the urban blacks became evident. However, the most effective advocate of the ideas was the Malcolm X; although, his impact on African American national politic was little. In 1964, the African Americans began feeling the impact of Malcolm X when he joined forces with religious separatists. He established relations with militants who had a history of active involvement in the civil rights movements. By the year of 1966, both the CORE and the SNCC led by Stokely Carmichael were identified with the slogan “Black Power” that symbolized ever rising African American racial awareness. They used both peaceful and violent strategies. During the period between 1965 and 1975, a number of new social, cultural, educational, and economic institutions controlled by African Americans were established. The Oakland-based Black Panther Party considered the discontentment of the northern black youths, and the armed Panthers had a confrontation with the police.
However, the institutions of the African American black power era never had direct political challenges. Instead, they insisted on the cultural distinctiveness of the society. During the beginning of 1970s, external expression and the internal ideological differences resulted in deterioration of the militant political groups. The national political assembly of the Black established in 10722 in Gary failed to reverse the political activity of the Black Nationalist disintegration. The political activity concentrated on the efforts to elect black politicians in regions that were considered black districts. Despite growing populations of African Americans holding appointed offices or elective positions, the academic study programs for blacks, established associations that protected black professional’s interest and businesses outgrew. They helped in the championing of African American interests and combating segregation that was deeply rooted in the system of governance. As the governmental programs for social reforms support decline in the 1970s and 1980s, militancy and mass protest strategies were utilized by the African American in order to gain greater control of the institutions and the black communities.
The twentieth century was marked by class divisions within the African-American society. The leaders did not create strategies to deal with economic issues faced by the community. The increased prevalence of the households for the blacks being headed by jobless single mothers, unemployment, high mortality rates, black males’ incarceration and lack of support from the white Americans to formulate social programs led to the renewal of African American strategies to create cultural uplift and self-help (Dierenfield, 2013).
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