Although it is widely believed by many historians and sociologists that civil rights movement in the United States began to shape only in the middle of the twentieth century, especially with the arrival on the scene Martin Luther King, we can say that its origins go back to the nineteenth century. Certainly, there is some difference, especially in terms of organization and development. Our major task is to discuss the relationships between black and white activists. The main points to be discussed are the peculiarities of leadership, structure, recruitment, and resource support for the movements.
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As we have already mentioned the origin of African-American, movement can be found even at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Overall, this period can be characterized as the “nadir of American race relationships” especially in Southern States. It was mostly stimulated by the laws, adopted in the country, which practically deprived African-Americans of their civil rights. Certainly, it aroused a storm of protest; however, we cannot say that white and black activists collaborated. There were people, among the white population of the United States, who supported the idea of reform, but they did not join their forces. The government de jure opposed to racism and segregation, however, the measures that were taken were not effective (Gayle, p. 67).
Among the prominent representatives of civil rights movement, especially if we are speaking about the nineteenth century, we can single out for example Octavious Catto, It was he, who formed the so-called Recruitment Committee for black people who wanted to struggle for their freedom. As regards the white activists, we may probably mention the prominent writer Mark Twain and his novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Nevertheless, we cannot speak of organized movement, with the central leadership, and structure.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, African-Americans practically turned into some kind of colony within the borders of the United States. Robert Allen in his book “Reluctant Reformers” describes it as “two societies”. It is worth mentioning that the author is somewhat pessimistic of the anti-racism struggle in the United States. In his view, such phenomenon as racism in the USA is so deeply rooted, that it will be extremely difficult to eradicate it (Allen, p. 122).
However, we should say that in the middle of the twenty first century Civil Rights Movement in the United States significantly intensified. We may take, for example the famous civil right organization “Freedom Riders”. First, it was strongly supported by the white population of Sothern States, who also opposed against racial discrimination. Secondly, its organization has hierarchical structure. Its leader was Fred Shuttlesworth. As regards the social background of this people, we can say that they were mostly students. It is not surprising that their attempts were not fruitless, because these people practically put an end the racial discrimination in the United States (Marable, 44). Freedom Riders boycotted hotels, restaurants, and cafes that promoted racial segregation. Certainly, large companies were afraid of losing their profits; therefore, they had to meet the demands of “Freedom Riders”
Thus, having analyzed the development of civil rights movement in the United States, we can arrive at the conclusion that anti-racism struggle became much more organized in the twentieth century. However, there are some similar features, for example the recruitment. This movements were inspired by intellectuals, or educated people.
- Gayle T. Tate, Lewis A. Randolph. “Dimensions of Black Conservatism in the United States: Made in America” Palgrave, 2002.
- Robert L. Allen, Pamela P. Allen. Reluctant Reformers: Racism and Social Reform Movements in the United States. Howard University Press, 1974.
- Manning Marable, Leith Mullings. Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal. Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.