African-American Freedom Struggle


The observance of human rights and freedoms of various kinds of people is among the current issues in every society. Such problems are an integral part of the domestic policy of any country, especially, multinational, such as the United States. One of the many segments of the U.S. population is African-Americans who were forcibly brought to the continent and for centuries have fought for their rights. Slavery was abolished in the XIX century; however, it took many decades for their "complete release".

Up to the present time African-Americans belong to the most discriminated part of the American nation. They form a particular race community that has not only a single physical type, but particular elements of a culture, ethnic identity, due to the commonality of African origin and historical fate. However, with all these Ethno-cultural characteristics, artificial barriers that impede the development of assimilation processes, black Americans have never constituted a separate nation, and always have been an integral part of the American one.

Pearson (2011) stated the following:

Being European and “white” was established as a de facto and de jure mark of being free, or potentially free; having a black skin was the mark of the unfree.

This paper seeks to explain why the struggle of African-Americans was so cruel and relentless.

One cannot find other ethnic minority which had such a fierce fight for their political rights as black people, which in many southern states were excluded from the political process until the 1960s, through intimidation and discriminatory laws. Kirk (2009) stated, “In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, racial discrimination was formalized in a set of laws that provided for the segregation and disenfranchisement of the black population”.

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A characteristic feature of the movement for civil rights of African-Americans is the growth of political consciousness of the participants as well as a better understanding of the nature of the society in which they live.

The noticeable manifestation of the public reaction to the "black riots" began the revitalization of the Ku Klux Klan.

Soon impunity and atrocities clan became unbearable.

For the 1871 - 1872 years the Ku Klux Klan was destroyed, but it’s tempting ideas of superiority of one people over the other more than once were revived, and found his followers.

The current U.S. national problems have their roots in the country's past. Undoubtedly, an important component of the population of British colonies was African-American slaves who were brought from Africa.

The labor of black slaves was a significant factor in the U.S. economy. Black Americans continued to play a pivotal role in the creation of material wealth of the country throughout the entire subsequent history of the United States.

By declaring inherent right of liberty, equality and striving for happiness, the government in no way took care of the constitutionally guarantee the implementation of these provisions. The government recognized the existence and future conservation of institution of slavery. The democratic freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights never extended to black slaves.

After World War II segregation was firmly established in American society. It was observed both in the spiritual realm (some churches for whites, the other - for the African-Americans), and in daily life (some toilets "For white lady", others - "for black women").

The division into the blacks and whites was observed even during the war. Black and white people were in different military units. Even blood banks were segregated: the wounded poured blood of their race.

Freeman, Wynell and West (1992) stated the following:

The black troops, however, faced greater peril than white troops when captured by the Confederate Army. In 1863, the Confederate Congress threatened to punish severely officers of black troops and to enslave black soldiers.

The soldiers after overwhelming racism in Europe should rediscover their inferiority – shops for blacks, drinking fountains for blacks and schools for blacks. It was impossible for former soldiers to realize this injustice.

Racism was more and more inconvenient for the U.S. diplomacy.

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In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court made a historic decision: state laws on segregated education were found unconstitutional. However, President Eisenhower believed that the racial problem could not be solved by law; moreover, there must be a gradual change in traditions, culture and psychology. It was not enough to accept the law. The law should work.

By 1970, three quarters of Negro population lived in the black ghettos, because blacks were not allowed to go to the “Whites suburbs”.

The increasing isolation of the ghettos helped to preserve the so-called local type of culture. African-Americans lived in conditions of extremely high level of unemployment, and poverty, overcrowding in these ghettos. What is more, lack of education and culture contributed to the spread of the worst social diseases. Alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, prostitution, fights, noisy family scandals, stabbing, and theft were widespread.

Those were the reasons why African-Americans began their protests.

The movement for the rights of African-Americans can be divided into non-violent forms of protest with the central figure of Martin Luther King and terrorist forms, which were led by "Black Panthers".

Montgomery was a cradle of rebellious southern Confederacy; it was called "the capital of racism". The humiliating segregation limitations, the Ku Klux Klan and the systematic persecution of the black population were the most popular activities in this city. Martin Luther King did not want to make "black revolution" in Montgomery, but he wanted to live a normal life as an ordinary Baptist pastor.

Alvah (2003) related the following,

In early December 1955, after the arrest of the seamstress and local NAACP secretary Rosa Parks for refusing to move to the back of the bus to accommodate a white passenger, the Montgomery NAACP organized a boycott of the city's buses. The year-long boycott called national attention to the South's Jim Crow practices, achieved the desegregation of Montgomery's public transportation, and established the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the young pastor of a local Baptist church, as a renowned spokesman for the civil rights movement.

The opposition between supporters and opponents of segregation took on the character of a crusade, the battle for life and death. Some were willing to kill in order to defend their principles. Others were ready to die for the right things.

In August 1963, it was a grand march in Washington which gathered 250,000 people. King (1963) proclaimed his most famous speech:

I have a dream today. This will be the day when all of the God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring”.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law (2005) stated that by the late 1960s, African Americans still suffered from many disadvantages, including poverty rates that were much higher than those among whites and physical health that was much worse. Racially motivated violence persisted as well, as seen in the assassination of King by a white man in 1968.

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Completely different methods of struggle used another movement - "Black Muslims". Malcolm X was one of the most famous leaders and ideologists of the military wing of the "Black Muslims". In 1961, he joined the movement of the "Black Muslims" and soon became one of its leaders.

Encyclopedia Britannica (2012) declared, “the growing militancy of black activists inspired by the then recently assassinated Black Nationalist Malcolm X spawned an increasing determination among African-Americans to achieve political power and cultural autonomy by building black-controlled institutions”. 

In conclusion, it should be said that the struggle of African Americans for civil rights is one of the most tragic pages in the history of the United States. Endless oppressions resulted in mass protests of black people. Sometimes these protests were peaceful, but in most cases they were bloody riots. This was a very high price for freedom. However, in order to let their descendants to have the same rights as whites, African-Americans had to pay for that. Uprisings in the black ghettos U.S. showed the government that race relations in the country are out of control of the authorities. In the "black riot" it saw a real threat to the established order. This forced the administration to change its strategy. In addition, it should be said that exploring contemporary phenomenon of racism Crystal (2012) notes:

Racism has of course not been wiped out completely. President Obama has to stand behind bullet proof Plexiglas when he addresses the nation due to death threats made against him. There is still a large amount of racist organizations operating in the world today. Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and the British National Party still have extremely strong followings. Most countries will have their own racist parties operating under nationalistic and political guises. However, for every racist organization there are countless anti-racism organizations that are dedicated to fighting racism and prejudice.

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