History free essay: African Americans’ Struggle for Equality and their Status Today
African Americans’ Struggle for Equality and their Status Today
African Americans have fought for equality for a long time, since the time when they7 were freed from slavery in the early 1960s. As such, the current status of the African Americans in the US has been highly influenced by their struggle for equality, together with other non-whites (Mason 51). Although the long struggle for equality since the end o slavery has borne very significant fruits, the African Americans still face some degree of inequality today. This paper presents an analysis of the African Americans’ struggle for equality and their status in the American society today.
Prior to the Civil War that took place in the early 1960s in the US, most African Americans worked as slaves for the whites. In 1770s when the struggle for independence was at the climax in the US, President Thomas Jefferson recognized in the Declaration for Independence that all human beings are equal. Despite this, African Americans continued to be treated as slaves for almost one more century. In fact, President Jefferson had around 600 slaves. Slavery was declared illegal in the whole of the US after the end of the Civil War (Mason 53).
After the war, however, the Whites continued treating the African Americans and other non-whites as second-class citizens. For instance, the African Americans did not have the right to cast votes by the early 1970s. Part of the discrimination was supported by the laws enacted during the construction period. A good example is the Separate Car Act (Cates 35). The Act stated that the African Americans and other non-whites were not allowed to travel in the same public conveyances, such as cars, as the whites. In response, the African Americans, together with other non-whites protested, against the discrimination in the streets and also through legal systems (Cates 37). Despite this, discrimination continued to flourish as the legal systems and the protests did not provide effective solutions. When, for instance, the African Americans challenged the Separate Car Act in the Plessy vs. Fergusson case in 1882, the Supreme Court ruled in support of the Act (Cates 38).
The discrimination against the blacks and other people of color continued until the 20th century. The African Americans were still being treated as inferior beings by 1960s. They were not allowed to use the same public conveyances as the whites. Also, the schools and other public facilities for the blacks were separated from those of the whites (Eitzen 101). The whites were favored as they were given priority in public places where they were served together with the blacks and other non-whites. Although the discrimination triggered many protests during the 20th century, the most recognized is the protest of the American civil rights movement that emerged in 1950s. The key player in the movement in 1960s was Martin Luther King Jr (Eitzen 101). In response to the efforts of the movement, any form of discrimination based on race, ethnicity and other personal attributes was made illegal.
Despite the fact that the law recognizes that the African Americans and people from other races should not be discriminated, there is still evidence of discrimination today. For instance, recent studies have shown that the African Americans and other people of color constitute around 80 percent of all people that are stopped and frisked by the police officers in New York. According to the report of Human Rights Watch, the blacks are more likely to be arrested and to take longer waiting for trial than the Whites (Eitzen 17). Studies have also found direct forms of discrimination against the blacks in the form of prejudice.
Overall, the African Americans have put significant efforts to fight for equality over the last one and half centuries. Their efforts have influenced their current equality status in the US, which is much better half a century ago. Although some forms of discrimination still exist, there is likelihood that the discrimination will continue diminishing in the future.
Cates, David. Plessy v. Ferguson: Segregation and the Separate but Equal Policy. Minnesota:
ABDO Publishing Company, 2012. Print.
Eitzen, Stanley and Janis E Johnston. Inequality: Social Class and Its Consequences. Routledge,
Mason, Herman. Politics, Civil Rights, and Law in Black Atlanta, 1870-1970. Charleston:
Arcadia Publishing, 2000. Print.
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