The Civil Rights Movements and the Vietnam War

During the 1960’s and 1970’s in the American history Civil Rights Movements t were spearheaded by the black leaders to agitate for equal treatments. The African- Americans were being discriminated by the whites because of their skin color. The blacks Americans in the United States had started Civil Rights activities were meant to end all forms of racial discrimination. This period followed the events that arose after the reconstruction period in 1860s where blacks were discriminated. The Civil Rights period is also referred to as the Second Reconstruction period.

In the Vietnam era, the Vietnam War also referred to as Second Indochina War or the American war was fought from 1959 to 1975 and it involved the Northern Vietnam and it allies against the United States and its allies. In my interview I had a chance to interview Mr. Scoot Bobson from     Birmingham and I started by asking him Interviewer:     Mr. Scoot thank you for availing yourself and also for your acceptance to be interviewed. Mr. Scoot:    Thank you very much it is also my pleasure to talk to you, feel free to ask any question. Interviewer:  

 Mr. Scoot can you first of all start by describing yourself. Mr. Scoot:    Thank you (eh). My names are Scoot Bobson; I am an old man as you             can see having been brought here in Birmingham where I was also born Interviewer:    So you were born here in Birmingham Mr. Scoot:    Yes Interviewer:    how old are you? Mr. Scoot:    I am sixty-five years old; as you can see I am old enough. Interviewer:    Actually that is true Mr. Scoot, about this issue of the Civil Right activities can you tell me or can you give a description of what was happening at that time, I believe you were quite of age

Mr. Scoot:    Well, civil Right movement had a quite long history and it forms a very important parts of the lives especially the black people. This period refers to the activities that were spearheaded by Africans Americans leaders where in this period between 1955 to late 1960s the blacks agitated for reforms that could end racism in the American society. Although the period is filled with bitter memories it is of a lot of importance. Interviewer:    So the Civil Rights activities were started by black Americans, can you please briefly explain the atmosphere at that time?

Mr. Scoot:    Well, the history of the Civil Right Movement seems to be very long, but i can give a brief description. Let me start by saying that the black in America before the 1860s were mainly slaves in white owned plantation and farms. Later the system of slavery was abolished where the Northern part of America wanted a United state to be created, against the Southern who wanted slavery to continue.

This had led to the American Civil War, when the nited Northerners emerged victorious. Interviewer:    So the Northerners were able to end slavery against the wishes of the Southerners? Mr. Scoot:    Yes, this followed the reconstruction period where in the Southern America the whites took a form of political powers that was segregating the blacks. These events however, can be attributed as the beginning of the Civil Right activities that took a turning point in the 1960’s. Interviewer:    Can you explain about the situation as it was at the beginning of this period in the early 1950’s? Mr. Scoot:    OK. During this time, many black Americans like me were being discriminated by the whites.

This was evident in many forms immediately after the post reconstruction era, also referred to as the “Jim crow” period. During this era the black-Americans were denied many rights because of their skin color for example right to vote. Interviewer:    so you are saying that you black could not take part in any election. Mr. Scoot:    Yes that was the situation. Actually there was total disenfranchisement. The whites had made some passes in the provision of the law where issues of registering of voters were made complex, so as to reduce the chances for a black person voting.

This according to us was wrong and we had to fight it to the end. Interviewer:    So your main issue was about the voting or was there other issues that you were agitating for. Mr. Scoot:    Yes, many issues like discrimination in schools, public places, transport. It was the worst period I think in the American history. There was a lot of violence inflicted to the black by the police, the whites…. It was terrible for example in Birmingham it was worse I tell you churches were bombed. Interviewer:    Mr. Scoot who mainly spearheaded the Civil Rights activities at that time?

Mr. Scoot:  Civil Rights activities were coordinated by different black leaders all over the states of the United Sates. Most of these were religious leaders for example one remarkable person was Dr. Martin Luther King Junior who is well remembered for his boldness among the blacks and whites. Dr. King was a church minister and a leader of the Southern Christian leadership Conference; he made a lot of contribution in fighting against the oppression and injustices on the blacks. Interviewer:    What were the reactions of the black Americans population?

Did they also take leadership role in the Civil Rights? How did they contribute? Mr. Scoot:    Well, through out this period the black community was always united, in fighting these injustices. They had adopted non-violence means, Dr. King; the main Civil Rights leader had shown them the philosophies of using non-violence mean to achieve their freedom. For example in 1963 in Birmingham the city where a lot of segregation existed, non-violence means through sit ins, marches were quite effective in the black campaigns against the ruthless oppression of the commissioner of public safety  Bull Connor.

He arrested peaceful demonstrators who faced ruthless and violent police brutality. Interviewer:    So the authorities were against the Civil Rights activities all over? Mr. Scoot:    Yes in most states the blacks faced a lot of resistance for example, in Washington in 1961, the black had organized Freedom Rides from Washington to New Orleans where their buses were attacked and bombed by Ku Klux Klan members who had the backing of the police. The blacks were terrorized by the police in their Civil Rights activities. Interviewer:    Mr. Scoot, did the black American succeed in their attempts to

fight against discrimination?. Mr. Scoot:    The African-Americans actually made some progress. For example I remember very well that when I was a small boy we used to take ride in buses where my father a black could not take a sit. Only white were allowed to sit and black were to offer seats to them. Interviewer:     Discrimination based on race also existed in Public transport? Mr. Scoot:    Oh yes, there is this famous Montgomery bus boycott which occurred in 1955. During this incidence one remarkable black woman called Rosa Parks had refused to give a seat to a white, which led her getting arrested.

This followed boycotts on the buses by the black, where leaders like Martin Luther King and other leaders led black people to march and boycott the buses. This boycotts led to the abolition of discrimination in transport system. The Non violence means were very fruitful I may say. Interviewer:    So the African Americans had made some remarkable achievement? Mr. Scoot:    Yes Interviewer:    Mr. Scoot can you briefly explain about the issue of the Vietnam War during this period Mr. Scoot:    In the entire period of the Civil Right activities the United States

was involved in war with northern Vietnamese. Many black people opposed it especially after 1965. Many believed that the US was involved in war with Vietnam because they had wanted to occupy it land and make it an American colony. This war as Dr. King had put was immoral as many resources were directed to it at expense of the suffering blacks and the rising levels of poverty. Interviewer:    how did the Civil Rights activities end in the late 1970s? Had it achieved all its aim? Mr. Scoot:    There were very many activities that happened in the entire period.

There was quite remarkable success, where many laws had changed that sought to abolish the systems of discriminations in schools, public places Interviewer:    was the American Dream realized in the end? Mr. Scoot:    Somehow all what the African Americans had agitated for was realized. Even after the death of Martin Luther other leaders took the initiatives of agitating for change for example Malcolm X who led the black community in the era of black power. By the end of the Civil Rights Movement era American was changed for the better.

Interviewer: Thank you very much Mr. Scoot Mr. Scoot: Thank you. In my interview with Mr. Scoot who is a black American I was able to get more clear picture and understanding of the activities that had occurred although the interview provided in descriptive form. But Mr. Scoot had demonstrated to me that the black were justified in all the methods they were using including the non-violent one. In fact he was among the ones of many blacks faced the brunt of racial discrimination in Birmingham. The interview had actually changed my opinion on how I thought about the role of black leaders in leading the masses in achieving freedom.

Works Cited David Farber, The Age of American Dream: America in the 1960’s. 1994.