Running Head: AFRICAN AMERICANS 1
HIS206: United States History II
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In this paper, I will be discussing four significant events that have taken place in American history that shows the progression of the African-American people since 1877. The four events that I have chosen are:
The battle for African-American equality has been a long and vigorous fight. Throughout the progression of history, African Americans have protected this great country together with other Americans. For many years, they were treated like “second-class citizens” who hardly had any rights in this country. Every American that formerly came to America was an immigrant from another country; they each came here with the anticipation of freedom. So if we all came here as immigrants in search of the same freedoms, then why should one not be permitted those freedoms based on race, color, or gender. African Americans began by being retained as slaves by whites, particularly in the Southern United States and after slavery had been eliminated, they were still excluded with segregation laws (also known as Jim Crow Laws); they were not allowed to vote and were not allowed the same equal rights as their white equivalents. Some people believe that since African Americans were slaves, they should not have the same rights as others. For approximately a century after slavery had eliminated and “reconstruction” began around the 1870s, African Americans remained excluded, treated as “lower citizens,” without equal rights, and in many past civil rights cases, our own United States Supreme Court ruled in approval of segregation and Jim Crow. African Americans ultimately were allowed equal rights but these were not automatic and only likely because of the brave, hard work of many civil rights advocates and other groups fighting for what they believed in and these were not easy fights. African Americans have fought throughout history with unfairness. They have persistently battled together with other Americans in many wars protecting the freedoms of this great country, and since all Americans are immigrants from
- Exodus to Kansas, which took place in 1879.
- Plessey vs. Ferguson, which took place in 1896.
- Montgomery Bus Boycott, which took place in 1955.
- Civil Rights Act, which took place in 1957.
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another country at one point in time in history, therefore we all should be treated equally. No matter how tough the fight, and no matter how strong the resolution, African Americans kept the motion that they would one day see triumph.
The first significant event in African American history is “Exodus to Kansas.” This event took place in Louisiana and Mississippi counties along the Mississippi River to Kansas in the year of 1879. It was the first huge incident in a widespread history of a big migration of African Americans. In the early part of 1879, thousands of African Americans could no longer tolerate the anguish imposed upon them left their households and looked for protection amid people in a bizarre land. They were homeless, had no money, and their clothing was tattered. These unfortunate people were crowding the docks of St. Louis, swarming the boats that were on the Mississippi River, and in miserable poverty tossing themselves upon Kansas. Many more of them were assembling along the banks of the Mississippi River. They were waving to get the attention of the passing vessels, and pleading with them for a way to the land of independence. This land was Kansas where the civil rights of citizens are appreciated, and employment was satisfied by truthful reimbursement. The newspapers had occupied with explanations of their hardship. They were weighed down with the cry of suffering from African American citizens leaving persecution which they could no longer tolerate. This unpredicted movement of migration from the South produced substantial public consideration and concern all through the country. Many white people in the South stated that northern activists were enticing away their black employment for political reasons, while northern politicians stated that the persecution of black Southerners by their white neighbors was the cause.
The second significant event in African American history is “Plessey vs. Ferguson.” In 1892, a man by the name of Homer Rudolph Plessy, who was of varied white and black descent decided to go in the “whites only” area of a train in Louisiana and was just about nearly arrested for doing so. In 1890, Louisiana approved what they called “equal, but separate accommodations for white and colored races in railways” and many African Americans fought in some ways. In 1892, they arranged for Mr. Plessey (who could pass as being
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white) to decline sitting in the “coloreds only” section of the train and become arrested (History Matters, n.d.). Mr. Plessey confronted this arrest and violation and it ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court in 1896 which ruled against Mr. Plessey. Justice Henry Billings Brown, one of the justices for this ruling arguing that as long as racially, separate facilities equal, they did not disturb the Fourteenth Amendment’s promises of equal protection of the law. All the Supreme Court justices but one (John Marshall Harlan) agreed with Justice Brown’s argument (History Matters, n.d.).
The ruling of this case delivered more proof African-Americans were not treated equally under our law and more like “second-rate” citizens. They were exposed to operate independently from white people and this idea was confirmed by our nation’s top court in respects to this ruling and segregation and people being “separate but equal” was the “law of the land.” It was a way of life, particularly in this part of the United States for many years to come.
The third significant event in African American history is the “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” It took place in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. African Americans had been waiting for a challenge to segregate the bus policy in court and this gave them an opportunity to do just that. Rosa Parks was popular within the African American history. She was just a normal black woman who was quiet, traditional and a church going woman who worked as a seamstress in her city (Kohl, 2004). She sat near the front of the bus where the section was for only whites. At any time when the bus would begin filling up with individuals, Rosa Parks was told to move by the bus driver and even harassed by other white riders due to her refusal to move out of her seat for a white man. The bus driver finally called the police and had her arrested because the city of Montgomery, Alabama had a law which required segregated seating on buses. After this occurred many African Americans which comprised Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of Alabama rushed to Rosa’s defense. The “Montgomery Bus Boycott” was formed and this was where African American citizens decided to stop riding the buses (Kohl, 2004). This boycott worked because buses were desegregated the next year thanks to the determinations of Rosa Parks
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not giving up her seat to a white man and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading this boycott.
The fourth significant event in African American history is the “Civil Rights Act.” It took place throughout the United States in 1957. The determination of the Civil Rights Movement was to get freedom for all races and not just African Americans. Civil rights advocates thought that everybody deserved the same rights as each other and that no one was greater. We were all alike no matter what races we were. All through the American history, different groups of citizens have battled for their rights that the American Constitution has granted them. This precise civil rights movement in the United States is about the will power of the African Americans to be granted that right. Because of their skin color, they did not have identical rights that white people did. This inequality on African Americans led to a time of social commotion. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, African Americans began to fight against the common systems and public establishments that had taken these rights away. They battled for not only their rights but there were White Americans that helped in this struggle.
This bill passed so that Americans were able to exercise their right to vote. This bill did not come until after African Americans were under attack for violence. This event was significant because it showed a renewed national attention to guaranteeing civil rights to all Americans.
African Americans have endured many hardships, problems, and obstacles, but they have sustained to progress onward in their voyage for equality. The United States has verified that we as a country believe that all man and woman were produced equal, therefore every man and woman of this great country should have equal rights. We as individuals are not flawless, and we continue to make errors every day, but from our faults, we can cultivate and flourish. The United States has developed into a great nation. We need to treat every woman and man regardless of race equally. We are all immigrants from other countries, so consequently, we all should have the same liberties of equality.
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Barnes, L., and Bowles, M. (2014), “The American story: Perspectives and Encounters from 1877.” San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Crosby, E. (2005). A taste of freedom. In A little taste of freedom: the Black freedom struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi(pp. 15-27). Retrieved from the library database.
Honey, M. K. (1999). From country to city: Jim Crow at work. In Black, workers remember: An oral history of segregation, unionism, and the freedom struggle (pp. 43-49). Retrieved from the eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) database.
Kohl, H. (2004). “The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott Revisited.” Paths of Learning. Summer 2004, Issue 21, page 11. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/15637664/story-rosa-parks-montgomery-bus-boycott-revisited
McDougald, E. J. (1925). Elise Johnson McDougald on “The double task: The struggle of Negro women for sex and race emancipation”. In A. Locke (Ed.), The New Negro: An Interpretation. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5126