The Struggle for Freedom and Equality in the 20th Century

The Struggle for Freedom and Equality in the 20th Century

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The history of African Americans in Europe and the traumatizing segregation that they were subjected to is still evident in the minds of the researchers today. In more than a decade, the African Americans who lived in the south encountered several instances of legalized unfairness, which progressed up to the end of reconstruction which took its best course in the twentieth century. The African Americans lived subjected to the white slavery and discrimination since the early days of colonization, and any moves to gain liberation proved difficult for more than a decade (Glenn, 2006). It was due to these dehumanizing moves of the whites that the African Americans formulated several approaches in the early twentieth century that helped them curb the ongoing policies of segregation that were codified at the state, federal and even at the local level.

The turn of events that defined African Americans as aliens on the American soil was felt in depth in the year 1880 when the states in the southern side passed the laws in their favor to mandate the division of people in public areas based on the race from which one came. These disfranchisement laws got into the system and took effect such that within a given period, nearly all the African Americans were robbed the right to vote, especially those that lived in the south (Foner, 1988). The whites in the south applied violence and intimidation as they enjoyed the security of tenure from their courts because the African Americans had minimal chances of surviving even in courts. After an extended duration of violence, intimidation, and discrimination, the African Americans came up with several primary methods to fight against and discourage the segregation movement.

Two methods used to overcome policies of segregation

Despite the strict laws that protected the whites and separated them from the African Americans, the African Americans took their game a notch higher and formed Civil Rights Movement called Second Reconstruction. The Reconstruction was meant to force the whites in the south to put up with a change of events after the Civil War. The liberation movement became effective such that the fourteenth amendment that reiterated the idea of equal protection by the law got approved. Later, the fifteenth amendment that granted males’ right to vote regardless of the race took effect, and the eventual occurrence was the inhibition of the south by the northern troops in 1865 to the end of 1877 with the intention of eliminating slavery (Dudziak, 2011). The primary motive was to discourage what was called the black codes or the Jim Crow Laws that were enacted to implement the idea of segregation against the African Americans. The African Americans were denied equal rights in education, housing, and use of public infrastructures like the train, restroom, or even restaurant facilities. They could neither move freely nor intermarry with the whites. They could also not vote like the whites used to do.

The second method used by the African Americans that raised the eyebrows of the whites was the push for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. This association became the leading factor in helping to determine the cause of civil wars, and address the cause of the causes of discrimination against the African Americans. The NAACP went ahead and became strong such that it challenged several discriminatory laws in the court (Kellogg, 1973). Although the efforts to end civil wars was evident, the real battle for civil rights took effect to a greater extent after the world war II.

The World War II became an eye-opener to the African Americans, and they got the encouragement to fight for their countries after returning home, and they stood against being treated as a second-class type of citizens. The most remarkable moment where the impact of NAACP took effect in 1954 when it won the case of Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka in Kansas which was pushing for segregation even in education, advocating for different elementary schools for the whites, and the blacks or African Americans.

The two catalysts for modern civil rights monument

The events that took place on the American soil in the late 1880s and the good part of the unforgettable nineteenth century led to the automatic reaction of the African Americans and triggered the beginning of civil rights movements. The most remarkable event that catalyzed the formation of civil rights movement was the arrest of Rosa Parks in December 1st, 1995, somewhere in Montgomery, Alabama, with the accusation that she refused to give up her seat in a bus to a white man. Having worked as a secretary in the NAACP before, Park was so influential that, her arrest provoked the African Americans, to take to the streets in unison to discourage the various forms of discrimination (Dooley, 2018). The issue became even complex after an exchange of phone calls which persuaded the African American women widely known as the Women’s Political Council to push for the boycott on the city buses. The local African American leaders who were equally the victims of discrimination backed up the move and the idea that the Africans would only seat at the back of the buses to give the front seats to the whites when the section set aside for the whites became full got void.

The second initiative that acted as a catalyst towards the rise of the modern civil rights movement was witnessed after the rise of Reverend Martin Luther King, who spoke loudly addressing the African Americans at the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery. Luther King criticized the discrimination and oppression against the African Americans by the whites and uttered words that set a signal to the whites. The African Americans stood in unison, and the civil rights movement took a sharp turn and became real on the American soil. Ideally, Luther King cited the methods of fighting against terrorism as used during Klux Klan that would be guided by well-defined principles of law and order to fight against segregation (Cunningham, 2005).

Goals of the civil rights movements

The civil rights movement worked in great cooperation with the intention of achieving the bottom line objective of getting liberated against the whites segregation. To some extent, the movements achieved these goals, and various instances showcase the real outcome. Among the major goals witnessed was on 16th October 1965, a day which saw thousands of African Americans gather on the mall in Washington DC, for the famous Million Man March. This was a rally organized by Louis Farrakhan to promote racial solidarity and enhance personal responsibility. The rally saw a large turn-up, creating a great cohesiveness among the African Americans, and making their sound heard to the Americans.

It is equally true to point out that the civil rights movements achieved another goal of prompting the federal government to enforce the law that used to favor the Americans at the expense of the African Americans. The freedom rides that were witnessed in 1961 were among the clear indicators of such persuasion on the federal government. A remarkable turn of events was noticed in 1961 when, after protecting by President Kennedy over the riders, the segregated commodities transportation in the interstate commerce commission got abolished. Even though the movement did not proceed past 1961, it gathered many people in support of the idea.

Despite the hard work by the African Americans through civil rights movements, the goals achieved had little effect during and after the 1960s. The issue of class among the whites took a long-term effect, and whites’ violence against the African Americans was still conspicuous, leading to deaths of various activists. In 1963, an NAACP leader, Edgar Evers was shot dead outside his home, and the year after saw Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner all from Mississippi silenced. This was a major blow to the African Americans and the entire civil rights movement community who fought against segregation.

In conclusion, the impact of the civil rights movement was clear and intended to benefit the African Americans for their liberation against segregation. However, it was a rough journey, and the period in the mid of 1960s saw the hardest time for the African Americans who were working under civil rights movements. There was a mass division among the African Americans as they began to differ on their views over what were the best political actions to embrace to improve the overall situation. The radical groups such as the Black Power Proponents and the Black Muslims felt dissatisfied by the advocacy of non-violence by the civil rights movements. Eventually, the Africans Americans ended achieving limited effect through the civil rights movements, and the Americans remained influential on the African Americans.


Cunningham, D. (2005). Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan Helped the Civil Rights Movement.

Dooley, B. (2018). Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland and Black America and accompanying critical analysis (Doctoral dissertation, University of East Anglia).

Dudziak, M. L. (2011). Cold War civil rights: Race and the image of American democracy. Princeton University Press.

Foner, E. (1988). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New American Nation Series (Vol. 9). New York: Harper & Row.

Glenn, E. N. (2006). From unequal freedom: How race and gender shaped American citizenship and labor. Global dimensions of gender and care work, 123.

Kellogg, C. F. (1973). NAACP: A history of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Vol. 1). Johns Hopkins University Press.

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