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The Civil Rights Movement Social Activism

5736 words - 23 pages

I. Segregation:

Policy of separating people in public and private places based on race. Usually refers to the southern United States from the Civil War until the 1960’s; however, many parts of the US were segregated by law in both race and in gender.

a) Plessy vs. Ferguson Revisited: “Separate but Equal:”
b) “Jim Crow” Revisited:

On June 7, 1892, a 30-year-old colored shoemaker named Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the "White" car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy was only one-eighths black and seven-eighths white, but under Louisiana law, he was considered black and therefore required to sit in the "Colored" car.
Plessy went to court and argued, in Homer Adolph ...view middle of the document...

..The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either."

The Jim Crow laws and this Supreme Court decision cemented the idea in America society that certain people were indeed superior to others based on race and national origin. “Jim Crow Laws” and segregation would be the norm in the United States until after World War II.

II. Post-War Steps toward Desegregation

President Harry S Truman, although a southerner and exposed to segregation all his life, was confronted by the prospect that segregation in the military specifically, and government in general, was an inefficient proposition at best. He began to push the Congress, as well as his cabinet that for cost cutting reasons, as well as his own convictions, that the days of segregation were numbered, and that reform was necessary. The Congress though, and the Democratic Party were opposed to these reforms and prevented Truman desegregation ideals from being passed as laws. He did however start the movement in the executive branch. Society was slow to follow.

a) Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia in 1919, but grew up in a California that regularly participated in segregation. Jackie faced racism every day of his life but as a youth he became one of the finest athletes in California school history, lettering in baseball, football, basketball, and track in both high school and college and regularly outperformed his white counterparts. In 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey decided to take a major chance and signed Robinson to a contract in the Major Leagues. No other African American had ever played baseball in anything other than the “Negro” leagues. Robinson endured terrible name calling, wild pitches, spikers, and death threats his first year. His skills, however, quieted most as he was able to secure the National League Pennant for the Dodgers and was named Rookie of the Year. Today, his number 42 is retired in all of Major League baseball.

b) Truman desegregation of the military

President Truman was unsuccessful getting any civil right legislation through Congress mostly because of southern opposition. In retaliation for Congress’ narrow views, he began to de-segregate the Executive Branch which, of course, Congress had no control over. The first move was to order all units in the military to become integrated and he dissolved any and all “Black” units. These moves probably won him re-election to the presidency as he won most of the black vote in a very close 1948 election. African-American turnout in this election was an all time high.

c) Adam Clayton Powell, Senior and Junior
Powell, Sr. was born in Franklin County,...

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