Racism is a vice that has taken center stage in many talks and discussions. The 20th century is noted as a history making period in terms of developments made with regards to racism. Racism is as old as international trade and it developed with the introduction of slave trade. Africans who were abducted and forced to work in plantation farms in North America were slaves and did not have the same privileges that their white masters enjoyed.
African Americans were basically treated as a lower form of human existence before the civil war of the 1885 which supposedly led to their freedom. However this was not so, and history has it that racism just shifted media from farms to institutions. Racism was made obscure though its manifestations was clear for all. Segregation of the whites, coloreds and blacks was a clear sign of racism in that facilities that were offered to the white people were far much superior than those offered to African Americans (Dierenfield 24).
Schools, medical facilities and other social amenities were all developed on the basis of skin color thus social institutions were used by the race in control to propagate racism. It should be remembered that though African American were considered US nationals, they were not allowed to vote thus they could not practice their privileges due to their skin color.
Institutionalized racism and increase in levels of educational attainment among African Americans led to increase in the levels of awareness on their plight. It should be noted that though African Americans were supposedly free, individual racism was still widespread and white supremacists were having an effect on the treatment of African Americans.
Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Du Bois and Rosa Parks are just but a few of the activists that played great roles in civil rights movement by putting pressure on the government and political institution to take step towards dealing with institutionalized racism. Civil rights movement involved all members of the society irrespective of age and gender. Though adult males were more vocal, their efforts were supported by their female counterparts.
The movement took on different forms and involved use of peaceful demonstrations, violent protest which were referred to as civil disobedience and mass street protests. Minorities were mainly involved in mass peaceful protest that managed to cripple economic activities. Most activists were well educated political scientists and law men who had underwent discrimination and were aware on the effects of discrimination on the development of African Americans as a people.
The civil rights activism were characterized by increase in strife and animosity between different groups and increase in pressure by African American activists were countered by strategies developed by white supremacists leading to violent confrontation in areas like Mississippi. As African Americans petitioned through lawsuits and developed organization to ensure the drive to their rights were at high gear, institutions like the police were used to brutalize the protesters and a large number of people lost their lives.
But like an idea whose time had come, there was no stopping and the political system soon gave in to pressure and put up a number of reforms aimed at eliminating institutionalized racism. The 1964 civil rights made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of skin color in public accommodation and enrollment for employment, the voting rights act was passed in 1965 and for the first time African Americans shared the same voting privileges with their white counterparts; the same year saw the passing of the immigration and nationality act that opened up America to non-Europe nations. Another key development was the 1968 civil rights act that banned discrimination on the basis of race and cultural background in sale or lease of property.
The measures put in place are responsible for the dynamic and integrated society that America currently is. Integration of schools and other social systems and increase in levels of involvement of African Americans in the development of the economy are some of the results of the civil rights movement (Kinzer 54).
Development of democracy and democratic processes have been a result of equal treatment of all member of the American society. Some are of the view that the measures put in place are responsible for the woes faced by America for instance sprawling in major cities due to increase in levels of immigration. One thing is however for sure, growth in economy and increase in control of global economic dynamics that the US attained in the 1970’s were a direct result of the high levels of economic development which were coincidentally realized after the reforms were instituted.
The spirit of civil rights movement is still here and as long as there is discrimination and inequalities in the society the spirit will live on. Use of media and art are some of the mechanics employed by modern day society to spread awareness on inequalities. Hip Hop music has especially been used in ensuring that brutality against African Americans and minority groups are brought to light (Zinn 63).
Internet technology and development of protocols that allow social networking over the internet are some technological systems that have been effective in spreading awareness on plight of minorities and discrimination on the basis of race. Though there have been development to eliminate the effects of racism in the society, all that can be done is move towards this goal and its achievement is an occurrence that all member of the society irrespective of their background will gain from.
Dierenfield, Bruce. The Civil Rights Movement. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004. Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. New York: Macmillan, 2007. Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. Harper & Row, 1980.