Modern Civil Rights Movements
Civil rights are legislations put forward to protect the minority groups in society. In the modern society civil rights has taken a new twist with partisan groups coming together to advocate for their interests, a good example is the Gay rights.
On 1st December, 1995 a Black lady “Rosa Park” Refused to leave her seat for a white man while on a Montgomery, Alabama bound bus. When she disobeyed she was taken into custody. Dr. Martin Luther King jnr who was then a Priest in the Baptist church decided to rally the masses behind him to boycott boarding the Montgomery bound Bus, all in the aim of voicing their discontent at how the white American folk was racially discriminating black American. This boycott lead to the Bus Company loosing millions of dollars during the 382 days Blacks boycotted the buses. The black population only stopped their boycott after their plight was heard by the supreme court of the land (E.d Julie L. Canagie, 2006).
Modern civil rights movements have evolved a great deal since the mid 1950’s to date. President Harry S. Truman’s administration came up with a ten-point civil right reform agenda in 1947.Truman wanted to tackle civil right wholesomely and not individually a point that was not met well by the Southern Democrats. His reforms included Voting rights and fair employment among others. In his attempt to prove his commitment, he issued three presidential orders. One was to end segregation in the armed forces; the second order came in 1948 where it became illegal to racially segregate persons seeking employment in the civil service. The third and last came in 1951 when he ensured that contractors to the army could not be racially discriminated which he made possible by establishing the (CGCC) Committee on Government Contract Compliance (Bernstein, Barton J. (ed.) 1970). President Truman also can up with the phase “fair deal” where he pushed for equal rights for all Americans, a minimum wage increase, National Health insurance, and subsidies to farmers to boost production .Although this was largely shot down by conservatives some of the policies were enacted ( Alonzo l.Hamby 1974).
Another notable figure in the civic rights struggle in America was the Thirty forth president of America Dwight D.Eisenhower alias Ike (1890-1969). He believed in fairness and peace after the war (Elaine Marie Alphin, Arthur B. Alphin2005, p6-12).While president ,he assented into law the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 that he had earlier recommended to Congress. He wanted Washington to become a case in point to the other American states by insisting on the integration of Blacks and Whites schools. Eisenhower and the governor of Arkansas confronted each other when the president issued a direct 10730 for 9 Black-American students to be escorted into Little Rock Nine elementary school. This was after the state had refused to follow the Federal court order that was issued to all schools to be integrated (D .D Eisenhower 1966).
Modern republicanism cropped up mostly after the American Revolution with anti-monarchy ideologies of Classical republicanism like Rousseau and Montesquieu being replaced by Liberalism and socialist. Republicanism stresses social Liberty, independence and greatly rebuked corruption a factor that sparked off world wide out cries to end hereditary rules .This later paved way for civil activism to address individual group interests.
The thirty fifth president of America J F Kennedy who took over the mantel from Eisenhower in 1961 and later assassinated in 1963, openly advocated for integration of races which were undermined by the conservative southern democrats .In his quest for integration, Kennedy’s brother Robert the then Attorney General sent 400 US Marshalls to escort Black students into Mississippi University after they had been denied access. In 1963 He created the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Despite being pro Civil rights, he secretly violated them .He allowed his FBI Director J.Edgar Hoove, to tap into the proceedings of the “Southern Christian Leadership Conference Civil rights organization headed by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr (Frum, David p.41).
During his 1960 presidential campaign J F Kennedy’s allies came up with the word ‘new frontier’ a word that was targeted at revealing the new administration’s zeal to explore unexploited territories once elected into power. They run TV programs of action figures a factor that brood a new spirit in young Americans who became energized. The regular images on TV that advocated for social equality later gave rise to social movements that emerged to address the inequalities. (John Alan Farmer 2000, p 10-12).The new frontier in the recent years saw the rise of action figures like Superman, Bat man, the legend of Zorro, Robin hood all that were advocating for social justice and equality a factor that had sowed the seed bore the civil rights movements.
The great society was a brain child of President Lyndon B. Johnson who was the thirty sixth president of America. This was intended to fulfill two major objectives one being the launching of transportation, hence try to solve urban problems, eradication of racial injustices and poverty and in addressing medical care and education. Despite the great societies enactment the war in Vietnam saw a reduction in spending on some of the programs and an increase in racial discrimination in the south of America. This led to an increase in the civil society headed riots in Major Black dominated cities of Los Angeles and New York respectively. Faced with domestic pressure Johnson was able to enact legislator on consumer protection, training health professionals, assist disabled Americans, safety standards improvement among others. Johnson also assented to the civil rights act of 1964 (Andrew, John A. 1999, p224)
After the Second World War, new Christian leaders cropped up like Dr Martin Luther King jnr who used the pulpit to preach the gospel of justice, Brotherhood, equality both on earth and in heaven. This sparked off protests against racial segregation in major towns of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Montgomery, Tallahassee, Birmingham and Nashville. The Blacks Christian led movement was known as “The Southern Christian Leadership Conference”. This movement rallied the masses in peaceful demonstrations that were directed to their oppressors. Although it had achieved something when the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was enacted, major chandes were still expected. Conservative southern whites had not heeded to the enacted act and they still openly segregated the Blacks. In 1960 the (SCLC) was able to register more than 3million Black Voters but it was intended at registering more but was hit by budgetary constraints when it failed to raise the $200,000 intended to fund their drive. (Steven F.Lawson 2009 page 72-74).
Between 1960-1987 there immerged a new breed of activism involving students. In the Soweto slam school white boar soldiers opened fire on Black South African students protesting against Apartheid, the racial segregation of South Africans by their white colonial masters. In 1968 University students took to the streets protesting the war in Vietnam as at that time more than 500,000 troops had then stationed in Vietnam. In 1969 there emerged the “radicals”, the “moderates” and the “conservatives” these groups recruited up to about 400,000 students. They mainly opposed the university reluctance in addressing their issues and the Government’s involvement in university affairs (Chalmers 1996, p74).
The last and final civil rights movement that cropped up was the violent group .Its views were expressed through deaths and thus the “age of assassinations”. The assassination of Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald was the first although his assassin was later killed by Jack Ruby before being trailed. (Ann Cook,2009,p 208).In his book “An Act Of State: The execution of Martin Luther King”(2003 p,16-17) William F.Pepper says that Dr martin King was shot by James Earl Ray on April 4,1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis through his bathroom window. He considers it to be a planned state execution of Dr King as the evidence produced was contradictory. The Soviets also attempted to assassinate the pontiff john Paul 11 on 13 may, 1981 in Fatuma by using Mehmet Ali Agca a Turkish national (proceedings and debates of the 109th congress, 2005, p 4424).
In conclusion the modern civil rights movements were greatly sparked off in mid 1950’s. In the 1960s protests in the major American states of New York ,Chicago, Detroit, Washington among others were also rampant (Gaines et al.1997).The activism was joined in by students in the late 1960s.There is no struggle without blood shed so President Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King jnr became the sacrificial lambs in the struggle for civil right. To date many more civil rights groups have emerged (Bruce L.Berg, 1999).