Minority groups living in America have a long history of fighting for their civil rights. For decades, these groups were marginalized and suffered discrimination despite several laws being passed to end such vices. African-Americans are among the largest minority groups in America that suffered discrimination. Their long fight for freedom and equality has become the moral foundation for other minority groups all over the world.
The civil rights can be traced way back in the 19th century, but it peaked in the 1950s when African-Americans formed mass movements to fight for equality and access to basic services. African-Americans organized and led civil rights movements at different levels using legal means to fight for their civil rights. The emergence of civil rights groups contributed to institutional reforms in several sectors in America, eliminating social disparities imposed by the government.
The civil rights struggle was triggered by injustices, especially discrimination experienced during slavery in the South. Before the Second World War, Africans were sold as slaves and worked as casual laborers in huge plantations in America. When slavery was abolished, many Africans opted to settle in America, making America their second home. Most slaves were domestic servants and were not permitted to access various opportunities. After slavery was abolished, former slaves became American citizens acquiring new rights to access basic services. Many states in the South used various means to deter African-Americans from accessing these services, enforcing segregation laws.
The civil rights struggle was majorly concentrated in the Southern part of America where the African-Americans majorly resided. During the 19th century, the southern states enacted various laws to maintain racial segregation; these laws were popularly referred to as Jim Crow laws. These laws imposed strict regulations that made it impossible for African-Americans to prosper economically and politically.
Thousands of African-Americans served during the Second World War still suffered segregation and discrimination during deployment. Such situation highlighted a stark contrast as to why Americans entered the war, which was to defend democracy. African-Americans pursued their goals, fighting for their rights as citizens using all legal means, including negotiations, petition, non-violent protests and nationwide demonstrations. Thousands of African-Americans organized themselves into groups forming civil rights movements to make historic changes witnessed during the 20th century in America.
After the civil war, during the reconstruction period, Congress failed to pass any civil rights act, but only managed to establish a civil right Justice Department despite the numerous efforts by various leaders to end segregation among minority groups in America. The justice department investigated discriminatory cases but did not persecute offenders. Protests began throughout the southern parts; one notable example was the Birmingham Alabama protest. The protest in Birmingham made history as one of the most powerful demonstrations ever witnessed.
With pressure from all quarters, comprehensive civil right legislation was drafted in 1963. President Lyndon Johnson eventually enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964 ending racial discrimination as a common practice witnessed in the South. African-Americans faced racial discrimination, with the government doing nothing to stop such acts. The government failed to protect individual rights forcing African-Americans to use various means to call the government to act. Rosa Parks facilitated the struggle for equality when she refused to give up her seat in the white part of the bus to a white man. Rosa Parks triggered the social struggle resulting in many other forms of protests.
Civil rights movement associations like the Montgomery Improvement Association led by a Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr played a significant role in fighting for African-American freedom. The famous march to Washington became the turning point in American history. More than 200,000 Americans from all parts assembled in Washington DC for a peaceful demonstration. The demonstration was meant to force the government to enact a civil rights legislation that would open up equal job opportunities for everyone.
The highlight of this protest was the famous Martin Luther Kings’ speech “I Have a Dream,” which later became a slogan in fighting for equality and freedom. Martin and other civil right activists pushed the government to sign into law the Civil Right Act in 1964 that guaranteed equal employment for all. Under the new law, segregation based on race, nationality, and religion was banned in all places, including courthouses, hotels, sport, and theatres. African Americans could access basic services like their white counterpart. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also created The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, giving them powers to file lawsuits on behalf of workers.
With continuous protests even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Congress passed legislation to enhance the voting rights of the minority groups in 1965.The Voting Rights Act was to address the long history of discrimination against African American to enable them to exercise their democratic right to vote. One of the greatest achievements recorded in America is the enactment of the Civil Right Act that increased the social and economic mobility for African-Americans.
The civil rights struggle did not end with the enactment of the voting rights in 1965; there have been several proposals by civil rights activist to maintain equality and freedom for the minority groups living in America. African Americans still face several challenges like poverty and discrimination in various sectors. One of the major concerns is economic inequality. Civil rights movements continue to advocate for policy changes to improve the economic status of African American in general.
The recent proposal under the fair housing act is an example of the continuous struggle for equality. The new requirement proposes the use federal funding to reduce racial disparities using fair housing laws to minimize racial discrimination. The laws mandate communities to foster integration. The struggle for equality in America has a long history; civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr played a significant role in fighting for African American civil rights.
Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights activists have brought major developments that have greatly contributed to closing the racial gap between Americans and other minority groups living in America. The struggle for equality is yet to achieve its objectives. However, many achievements made in fighting for equality by African American have majorly become the moral foundation for other minority groups.