In both “We shall overcome” and Martin Luther King’s speech, there are different roles accorded to African American women of that time. “We shall Overcome” is a hymn that outlines the many odds that people of African American decency underwent during those days when the whites viewed blacks as fewer beings. Based on that fact, Martin Luther King gave a remarkable, moving speech that sought to attain equality between the whites and the blacks as well as put an end to brutality and segregation.
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Despite the fact that most documented articles attempt to portray black men as being more active in the fight for equal living rights, findings show that black women played very crucial roles in attaining equal rights (Boyd 45). This paper will seek to discuss the correlation between “We Shall Overcome” and the speech of Martin Luther King and explain how each of the works addresses African American women’s roles and stereotypes in their own respective eras.
Both “We shall overcome” and Martin Luther King’s speech revealed different special roles played by black women. Since singing and music facilitated the fight for equal rights by mobilizing and inspiring as well as providing a way to voice out grievances, African American women sparked a series of activities, which aimed at achieving a place for equality for all whatever the hue.
According to the executive director of the King’s Southern Christina Leadership Conference Wyatt T. Walker, African American women had a special role to play in the fight against white people’s mistreatment. As Wyatt T. Walker pointed out, African American women facilitated the mobilization of the Albany movement. In their quest for black people’s fair treatment, women sang the lyrics of “We shall overcome” on their way to their respective working areas in Albany, Georgia (Caraway 75). Therefore, women sang to mobilize events.
The speech by Martin Luther King also had relations with the “We shall overcome” lyrics as both advocated for voting rights and better treatment by their American counterparts. In his speech, Martin Luther King portrayed African American women as intellectual beings who had the power and capacity to fill the masses during protests and strikes against unfair treatment by the whites. African American women turned in large numbers during his speeches, and protests hence they played a major role in the fight towards freedom attainment (Boyd 63).
During his profound speech “I have a dream”, Martin Luther King indicated that African American women were the pillars of the American foundation as it was through their presence and roles, the United States of America moved from one generation to another.
In conclusion, not only did both “We shall overcome” and Martin Luther King’s speech portrayed women as vital characters in the struggle for freedom, but also as strong associates in sparking and voicing out grievances. For instance, in “We shall overcome” women such as Mahalia Jackson, Rosa Parks, and Claudette Colvin sparked waves of protests against white people dominance (Caraway 75). With reference to both of the works, women contributed to the war against segregation by boycotting the Montgomery busses.
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15-year-old Claudette Colvin challenged the segregation routine in Montgomery bus, and her arrest led to a serious bus boycott that lasted for 13 months. This shows that, according to these works, African American women challenged unfair treatment by the whites.
Boyd, Herb. We Shall Overcome, Volume 3. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2004. Print.
Caraway, Rick. Who Is Destroying The Black Race in America? Bloomington: iUniverse, 2006. Print.