The concept of equality in America has been a fundamental theme since time immemorial. However, the notion that everyone in America is equal has been lacking pertaining to some groups. In this case, African American people are an example; their struggle for equality in the U.S can be noted. The African American people were anguished in atrocities f equalities in America, and they were not considered equal to the whites who felt their race was superior. Hence, it catapulted the formation of movements and boycotts to achieve democracy. Their struggle for equality was equipped with violence, and it was possibly the longest and greatest brawl to have been witnessed in the history of man. Ultimately, African Americans’ struggle to achieve equality underscores the foundation of democracy and equality in America (America wasn’t a democracy, 2019). In this regard, this essay will encompass the path to the struggle for equality since 1865.
tailored to your instructions
for only $13.00 $11.05/page
Since the making of the now greater united states, African American descent has been denied their rights to freedom and liberty. The struggle for equality dates back to June 1776, when America gained independence. In that context, there was the need to draft a constitution. Although the first draft highlighting equality in America was President Thomas Jefferson, who asserted that ‘all men are equal,’ this quote was ironic because Jefferson and other whites owned some black people as their property. As slavery ravaged America, enslaved people could not vote, legally marry, or even attend schools. In fact, Jefferson and the other founders hypocritically protected the Constitution from abolishing slavery; it was sidelined and not mentioned in the draft.
Therefore, at the height of slavery, the inequality concept was becoming inevitable to question as civil rights activities began to emerge. For example, the Northerners termed the slave trade a despicable and immoral act that should be abolished.
The first case to contest inequality in Court was Dred Scott vs. Sandford in 1857. Scott stressed that he was once enslaved, but he spent most of his time as a free man when the federal government abolished slavery; he, therefore, qualified as a free man. Unfortunately, the Court rejected his idea, and the jury precisely stated that he had no liberty to pursue freedom since blacks were not to be American citizens. Of course, the jury declared he was not fit to stand the Court. Additionally, the Court exacerbated that Congress lacked the mandate to determine if slavery would be allowed in jurisdiction acquired after the Constitution was ratified, effectively prohibiting the federal government from enacting any legislation limiting slavery’s expansion into any part of the West.
Eventually, the Civil War (1861–1865) resolved the matter, with some states seceding to preserve their states’ rights in the determination of their fate and future without federal government interference. Although President Abraham Lincoln was initially ready to allow slavery to persist in order to maintain the Union, he modified his stance on abolition during the war in the draft. Thence, in the issuance, he claimed that “all individuals kept as slaves shall be free in the future,” unfortunately, the declaration’s influence was limited to the states that rebelled (Dodds, 2021). Thus, enslaved people in states that remained in the Union were held by the soldiers who denied the enslaved right to freedom.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, America began the Reconstruction period from (1865–1877), during which state governments were reconstructed in preparation for the rebelling states’ readmission to the Union. The Republican Party campaigned to abolish slavery permanently as a key component of the transition. Accordingly, the House of Representatives enacted a constitutional amendment in January 1865. The amendment effectively abolished slavery in the United States; further, it accentuated that no man is the property of another man in America unless the circumstance person is a criminal or an accomplice upon which he will be punished (Baker & Garcia, 2019). Moreover, in the Fourteenth Amendment, significant changes were included, all equality was introduced, and everyone was privileged to become an American citizen. The Fifteenth amendment also emphasized that people freely vote irrespective of their race; however, women and illiterate African Americans were limited to the policy.
Following the end of the Reconstruction period, in1877, disenfranchisement took shape after the army’s withdrawal and rule of power befell the white men again. As a result, Jim Crow discriminatory legislation termed “separate but equal” emerged as African American citizens were imprisoned and forced to labor for the self-interest of whites (Tilton, 2021). In addition, they were to be segregated in public places and even abolished from living in certain neighborhoods. In 1896, the Supreme Court maintained the separate but equal concept in Plessy vs. Ferguson.
as little as 3 hours
By the 20th century, frustration among black people continued to manifest due to prejudice they faced from the whites. In the wake of that, African American civil rights activists’ people began pondering on the way forward; they agreed to disagree with the way forward as some argued that they focus on getting educated. Instead of forcing the whites to accept them equally, their education knowledge would automatically grant them equality and justice. However, a more aggressive approach formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Their focal point of emphasis is the abolishment of Jim Crow laws through Court (Sartain, 2020). The movement achieved to contest the segregation of education; fortunately, they managed to convince the Supreme Court of the higher education issue. They gave choices to either allow the blacks to attend with the white students or build constituent colleges for the black people.
In 1954, the Court made a conclusive decision in Brown vs. Board of Education Court overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson on the issue of public school segregation terming it illogical. The Court further argued that the separation but free rule was impossible; a segregated school could not have the same instructors or atmosphere for another race, even if it had the same financing and equipment (Sartain, 2020). Although segregation enforced by law had ceased on paper, little efforts to integrate schools in most school districts with large black student numbers were made until the late 1960s. Many white individuals opposed integration and founded private institutions that exclusively accepted white students.
Many African Americans were dissatisfied with the slow progress of equality. Grassroots organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Congress of Racial Equality, and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee questioned the NAACP’s primary and legal-focused strategy. These newer groups preferred direct action campaigns focusing on marches and protests. Direct action included 1960s sit-ins to desegregate Greensboro, North Carolina, lunch counters, and the 1961 Freedom Rides. Black and white volunteers rode buses and trains across the South to execute a 1946 Supreme Court decision.
President John F. Kennedy asked Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act as the civil rights movement grew. The legislation barred government discrimination and segregation, and other forms of discrimination in most public organizations, including hotels, theaters, and restaurants, that were not private clubs (Johnson, 2021). In addition, he established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate and enforce employment discrimination allegations. Nevertheless, the law was not immediately in some states and specifically regarding the registration of African American voters. As an impact activist such as Martin Luther King, Jr, he steered the greatest resistance on where voter registration was staged (Johnson, 2021). Henceforth, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was adopted, demanding more federal control of elections. Literacy and comprehension exams, as well as other racial discrimination techniques, were forbidden. Activists like Black Panther and Malcolm X used violence to attain their goals.
Still, the struggle for basic civil rights continues in America to date, but arguably the fights have been a success over the years. In the past, immediately after independence, African Americans could not attend schools, live together with the whites, legally marry, could not vote, and many other rights. Today the mentioned hurdles African Americans faced have been incorporated into the Constitution of America and were revoked as they have alienated the Bill of rights today. Today we have seen some whites who deprive African Americans of their rights end up behind bars. For instance, in 2020, the world witnessed a cold-blood murder of George Floyd by a police officer who ended up apprehended on account of murder, something which was unprecedented before.
African Americans have suffered despicable atrocities since America achieved independence. However, their hurdles are considered the fundamentals that shaped the democracy that America has today (America wasn’t a democracy, 2019). From being a white-dominated country to a new integrated one. To achieve this, the constant pressure of civil activism prompted the federal government to amend the Constitution and abolish segregation. Despite the fact that few elements of racism can still be witnessed in America today, equality can be deemed a success.
America wasn’t a democracy, until black Americans made it (Published 2019). (2022). The New York Times. Web.
Baker, D. V., & Garcia, G. (2019). An analytical history of black female lynchings in the United States, 1838. Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology, 8(1), 1838-1969. Web.
Dodds, G. (2021). The Civil War Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In Mass Pardons in America (pp. 114-142). Web.
Johnson, T. L. (2021). Awakening to Black Power Consciousness. In We Testify with Our Lives (pp. 54-79. Web.
Sartain, L. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. Web.
Tilton, J. (2021). Crossing the New Jim Crow Color Line: Confronting Race in Community Service Learning Behind Bars. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 27(2), 1–21. Web.