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Marxist Interpretation: Civil Rights Movement Essay

622 words - 3 pages

Thinkpiece: Marxist Interpretation
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was the result of years of racial discrimination and inequality within the United States, most notably the South. During this period, southern Blacks were segregated from white society and seen as the inferior race. As a result of the continued discrimination, African Americans rose up against there white oppressors to fight for a change in society and equal rights. Eventually, the African American population banded together in order to fight the oppression in the South. The events of this movement can be analyzed using the Marxist theory of historical materialism because racial oppression within the South was eventually brought to an end. Marxism proves to be a relevant form of interpretation for the Civil Rights Movement because many of the events during the movement are relevant to Marxist theory.
According to the German philosopher Karl ...view middle of the document...

African Americans were segregated on the buses, in restaurants, and in schools. These alternative establishments were often sub-standard and of poor quality. However, Blacks soon realized that they could rebel against the system through peaceful protest. These demonstrations started out small, with bus boycotts and restaurant sit-ins. Southern Blacks realized that they had the power to change society because the segregated institutions relied heavily on African American patronage. As a result, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a huge success and one of the first major victories of the Civil Rights Movement.
Even though the Civil Rights Movement proved to be effective in the long run, it was, as Marx predicted, met with great hostility. According to Marx, the upper class of society, in this case southern whites, would create a series of superstructures to slow the rebellion. These superstructures consisted mainly of the local government and police force. The regional governments in the South were extremely prejudiced and discriminate. Because certain laws hindered Blacks from voting or holding office, many of the local governments catered exclusively to southern whites. In addition, local police agencies were often corrupt and even attacked peaceful protesters with hoses and bats.
In staying true to Marx’s theories, the lower class African Americans would be considered to the proletariat while the upper class Whites would consist of the bourgeoisie. As Marx had theorized, the proletariat would eventually grow in size while the bourgeoisie would continue to shrink. As news of the Blacks struggle in the South raised national attention, more and more people around the country began to support the movements cause. African American support eventual overwhelmed that of Southern Whites and the Federal Government stepped in to end segregation and discrimination in the South. Even though violence occasionally occurred during the Civil Rights Movement, most of the protests were peaceful. Marx was correct in assuming that the overthrow of the bourgeoisie would be met with a minimum of violence. He was also correct in predicting that revolution could not be confined to one country because during this period, many nations, including India, were also pushing towards equality.

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