✍️✍️✍️ Essay On Black Power Movement
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Speaking out about the racial bias they faced felt risky for some Japanese Americans, given their past treatment by the U. When not only Black people but also Latinxs and Asian Americans from various ethnic groups began to share their experiences of oppression, indignation replaced fear about the ramifications of speaking out. Asian Americans on college campuses demanded a curriculum representative of their histories. Activists also sought to prevent gentrification from destroying Asian American neighborhoods.
College campuses provided fertile ground for the movement. Students demanded to design the programs and select the faculty who would teach the courses. A challenge of the Asian American civil rights movement from the outset was that Asian Americans identified by ethnic group rather than as a racial group. The Vietnam War changed that. During the war, Asian Americans—Vietnamese or otherwise—faced hostility. After the Vietnam War, many radical Asian American groups dissolved. There was no unifying cause to rally around. For Japanese Americans, though, the experience of being interned had left festering wounds.
Securing the equal protection of the law proved hard; securing reparations proved impossible. Board of Education and all that nonsense. The Supreme Court seems to share that sentiment. The past two decades have witnessed a rollback of the progressive legislation of the s. Liberals have found themselves on the defensive. In , when Barack Obama was a candidate for president, he was asked whether his daughters—Malia and Sasha—should benefit from affirmative action. He answered in the negative. The exchange rested upon an erroneous comparison of the average American white family and the exceptional first family. In the contest of upward mobility, Barack and Michelle Obama have won.
But that comparison is incomplete. The more telling question is how they compare with Jenna and Barbara Bush—the products of many generations of privilege, not just one. In , the freedwoman Belinda Royall petitioned the commonwealth of Massachusetts for reparations. Belinda had been born in modern-day Ghana. She was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. She endured the Middle Passage and 50 years of enslavement at the hands of Isaac Royall and his son.
But the junior Royall, a British loyalist, fled the country during the Revolution. Belinda, now free after half a century of labor, beseeched the nascent Massachusetts legislature:. Belinda Royall was granted a pension of 15 pounds and 12 shillings, to be paid out of the estate of Isaac Royall—one of the earliest successful attempts to petition for reparations. At the time, black people in America had endured more than years of enslavement, and the idea that they might be owed something in return was, if not the national consensus, at least not outrageous. As the historian Roy E. Finkenbine has documented, at the dawn of this country, black reparations were actively considered and often effected.
In his book Forever Free , Eric Foner recounts the story of a disgruntled planter reprimanding a freedman loafing on the job:. In the 20th century, the cause of reparations was taken up by a diverse cast that included the Confederate veteran Walter R. Charles J. Ogletree Jr. But while the people advocating reparations have changed over time, the response from the country has remained virtually the same.
Not exactly. Having been enslaved for years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages.
Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us. Broach the topic of reparations today and a barrage of questions inevitably follows: Who will be paid? How much will they be paid?
Who will pay? But if the practicalities, not the justice, of reparations are the true sticking point, there has for some time been the beginnings of a solution. For the past 25 years, Congressman John Conyers Jr. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested. But all we are talking about is studying [reparations]. As John Conyers has said, we study everything. We study the water, the air. This bill does not authorize one red cent to anyone. That HR 40 has never—under either Democrats or Republicans—made it to the House floor suggests our concerns are rooted not in the impracticality of reparations but in something more existential.
The last slaveholder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. A nation outlives its generations. We were not there when Woodrow Wilson took us into World War I, but we are still paying out the pensions. If George Washington crossing the Delaware matters, so must his ruthless pursuit of the runagate Oney Judge. The high point of the lynching era has passed. But the memories of those robbed of their lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. There has always been another way. A merica begins in black plunder and white democracy , two features that are not contradictory but complementary.
Morgan wrote. Most of them had inherited both their slaves and their attachment to freedom from an earlier generation, and they knew the two were not unconnected. When enslaved Africans, plundered of their bodies, plundered of their families, and plundered of their labor, were brought to the colony of Virginia in , they did not initially endure the naked racism that would engulf their progeny. Some of them were freed. Some of them intermarried. Still others escaped with the white indentured servants who had suffered as they had.
Some even rebelled together, allying under Nathaniel Bacon to torch Jamestown in One hundred years later, the idea of slaves and poor whites joining forces would shock the senses, but in the early days of the English colonies, the two groups had much in common. As life spans increased in the colony, the Virginia planters found in the enslaved Africans an even more efficient source of cheap labor. Whereas indentured servants were still legal subjects of the English crown and thus entitled to certain protections, African slaves entered the colonies as aliens. For the next years, American law worked to reduce black people to a class of untouchables and raise all white men to the level of citizens. But at the beginning of the 18th century, two primary classes were enshrined in America.
The state with the largest number of enslaved Americans was Virginia, where in certain counties some 70 percent of all people labored in chains. Nearly one-fourth of all white Southerners owned slaves, and upon their backs the economic basis of America—and much of the Atlantic world—was erected. In the seven cotton states, one-third of all white income was derived from slavery. The web of this slave society extended north to the looms of New England, and across the Atlantic to Great Britain, where it powered a great economic transformation and altered the trajectory of world history. The wealth accorded America by slavery was not just in what the slaves pulled from the land but in the slaves themselves.
Blight has noted. Loans were taken out for purchase, to be repaid with interest. Insurance policies were drafted against the untimely death of a slave and the loss of potential profits. Slave sales were taxed and notarized. The vending of the black body and the sundering of the black family became an economy unto themselves, estimated to have brought in tens of millions of dollars to antebellum America. In there were more millionaires per capita in the Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the country.
Beneath the cold numbers lay lives divided. Our affection for each was very strong, and this made us always apprehensive of a cruel parting. Forced partings were common in the antebellum South. A slave in some parts of the region stood a 30 percent chance of being sold in his or her lifetime. Twenty-five percent of interstate trades destroyed a first marriage and half of them destroyed a nuclear family. When the wife and children of Henry Brown, a slave in Richmond, Virginia, were to be sold away, Brown searched for a white master who might buy his wife and children to keep the family together. He failed:. In a time when telecommunications were primitive and blacks lacked freedom of movement, the parting of black families was a kind of murder.
Here we find the roots of American wealth and democracy—in the for-profit destruction of the most important asset available to any people, the family. By erecting a slave society, America created the economic foundation for its great experiment in democracy. The consequences of years of enslavement, of war upon black families and black people, were profound. Like homeownership today, slave ownership was aspirational, attracting not just those who owned slaves but those who wished to. Much as homeowners today might discuss the addition of a patio or the painting of a living room, slaveholders traded tips on the best methods for breeding workers, exacting labor, and doling out punishment. By the dawn of the Civil War, the enslavement of black America was thought to be so foundational to the country that those who sought to end it were branded heretics worthy of death.
Imagine what would happen if a president today came out in favor of taking all American homes from their owners: the reaction might well be violent. Terrorism carried the day. Federal troops withdrew from the South in The dream of Reconstruction died. For the next century, political violence was visited upon blacks wantonly, with special treatment meted out toward black people of ambition. Black schools and churches were burned to the ground. Black voters and the political candidates who attempted to rally them were intimidated, and some were murdered. At the end of World War I, black veterans returning to their homes were assaulted for daring to wear the American uniform.
The demobilization of soldiers after the war, which put white and black veterans into competition for scarce jobs, produced the Red Summer of a succession of racist pogroms against dozens of cities ranging from Longview, Texas, to Chicago to Washington, D. The work of mobs was a rabid and violent rendition of prejudices that extended even into the upper reaches of American government. The New Deal is today remembered as a model for what progressive government should do—cast a broad social safety net that protects the poor and the afflicted while building the middle class. When progressives wish to express their disappointment with Barack Obama, they point to the accomplishments of Franklin Roosevelt.
The omnibus programs passed under the Social Security Act in were crafted in such a way as to protect the southern way of life. Old-age insurance Social Security proper and unemployment insurance excluded farmworkers and domestics—jobs heavily occupied by blacks. When President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law in , 65 percent of African Americans nationally and between 70 and 80 percent in the South were ineligible.
The oft-celebrated G. Though ostensibly color-blind, Title III of the bill, which aimed to give veterans access to low-interest home loans, left black veterans to tangle with white officials at their local Veterans Administration as well as with the same banks that had, for years, refused to grant mortgages to blacks. The historian Kathleen J. In Cold War America, homeownership was seen as a means of instilling patriotism, and as a civilizing and anti-radical force. Daisy and Bill Myers, the first black family to move into Levittown, Pennsylvania, were greeted with protests and a burning cross.
The neighbor had good reason to be afraid. Bill and Daisy Myers were from the other side of John C. Sugrue, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania. Home ownership became an emblem of American citizenship. That emblem was not to be awarded to blacks. The American real-estate industry believed segregation to be a moral principle. The federal government concurred. Millions of dollars flowed from tax coffers into segregated white neighborhoods.
Jackson wrote in his book, Crabgrass Frontier , a history of suburbanization. Whole areas of cities were declared ineligible for loan guarantees. By then the damage was done—and reports of redlining by banks have continued. The federal government is premised on equal fealty from all its citizens, who in return are to receive equal treatment. But as late as the midth century, this bargain was not granted to black people, who repeatedly paid a higher price for citizenship and received less in return.
Plunder had been the essential feature of slavery, of the society described by Calhoun. But practically a full century after the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the plunder—quiet, systemic, submerged—continued even amidst the aims and achievements of New Deal liberals. Today Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the country, a fact that reflects assiduous planning. In the effort to uphold white supremacy at every level down to the neighborhood, Chicago—a city founded by the black fur trader Jean Baptiste Point du Sable—has long been a pioneer. The efforts began in earnest in , when the Chicago Real Estate Board, horrified by the influx of southern blacks, lobbied to zone the entire city by race.
But after the Supreme Court ruled against explicit racial zoning that year, the city was forced to pursue its agenda by more-discreet means. By the s, Chicago led the nation in the use of these restrictive covenants, and about half of all residential neighborhoods in the city were effectively off-limits to blacks. It is common today to become misty-eyed about the old black ghetto, where doctors and lawyers lived next door to meatpackers and steelworkers, who themselves lived next door to prostitutes and the unemployed. This segregationist nostalgia ignores the actual conditions endured by the people living there—vermin and arson, for instance—and ignores the fact that the old ghetto was premised on denying black people privileges enjoyed by white Americans.
In , when the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants, while permissible, were not enforceable by judicial action, Chicago had other weapons at the ready. This came in handy in , when a new federal housing act sent millions of tax dollars into Chicago and other cities around the country. Beginning in , site selection for public housing proceeded entirely on the grounds of segregation.
By the s, the city had created with its vast housing projects what the historian Arnold R. White neighborhoods vulnerable to black encroachment formed block associations for the sole purpose of enforcing segregation. They lobbied fellow whites not to sell. They lobbied those blacks who did manage to buy to sell back. And when civic engagement was not enough, when government failed, when private banks could no longer hold the line, Chicago turned to an old tool in the American repertoire—racial violence. The mob pelted the house with rocks and set the garage on fire. The doctor moved away. In , after a few black veterans moved into the Fernwood section of Chicago, three nights of rioting broke out; gangs of whites yanked blacks off streetcars and beat them.
In , thousands of whites in Cicero, 20 minutes or so west of downtown Chicago, attacked an apartment building that housed a single black family, throwing bricks and firebombs through the windows and setting the apartment on fire. Two years after that, whites picketed and planted explosives in South Deering, about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, to force blacks out. When terrorism ultimately failed, white homeowners simply fled the neighborhood. The traditional terminology, white flight , implies a kind of natural expression of preference.
For should any nonracist white families decide that integration might not be so bad as a matter of principle or practicality, they still had to contend with the hard facts of American housing policy: When the midth-century white homeowner claimed that the presence of a Bill and Daisy Myers decreased his property value, he was not merely engaging in racist dogma—he was accurately observing the impact of federal policy on market prices. Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived. Speculators in North Lawndale , and at the edge of the black ghettos, knew there was money to be made off white panic.
They would hire a black woman to walk up and down the street with a stroller. To keep up with his payments and keep his heat on, Clyde Ross took a second job at the post office and then a third job delivering pizza. His wife took a job working at Marshall Field. He had to take some of his children out of private school. He was not able to be at home to supervise his children or help them with their homework. Money and time that Ross wanted to give his children went instead to enrich white speculators. They think this neighborhood is where they supposed to be. It changes their outlook. Instead she was hired by Western Electric, where she worked for 41 years.
I met Lewis in the home of her neighbor Ethel Weatherspoon. Both had owned homes in North Lawndale for more than 50 years. Both had bought their houses on contract. Weatherspoon bought her home in The blacks are coming. Before moving to North Lawndale, Lewis and her husband tried moving to Cicero after seeing a house advertised for sale there. In , the couple bought a home in North Lawndale on contract. They were not blind to the unfairness. But Lewis, born in the teeth of Jim Crow, considered American piracy—black people keep on making it, white people keep on taking it—a fact of nature.
And that was the only way I could get it. If everybody else can have one, I want one too. I had worked for white people in the South. Whenever she visited white co-workers at their homes, she saw the difference. I asked Lewis and Weatherspoon how they kept up on payments. Lewis and Weatherspoon, like Ross, were able to keep their homes. The suit did not win them any remuneration. But it forced contract sellers to the table, where they allowed some members of the Contract Buyers League to move into regular mortgages or simply take over their houses outright. But for all our exceptional ones, for every Barack and Michelle Obama, for every Ethel Weatherspoon or Clyde Ross, for every black survivor, there are so many thousands gone.
I met him in his office at the Better Boys Foundation, a staple of North Lawndale whose mission is to direct local kids off the streets and into jobs and college. On June 14, , his year-old son, Billy Jr. Every day. Brooks was not raised in the streets, though in such a neighborhood it is impossible to avoid the influence. You got to go to school. I lived here. I went to Marshall High School. Over here were the Egyptian Cobras. The Houston rebellion shocked the nation and encouraged white southern politicians to oppose the future training of black soldiers in the South.
Three military court-martial proceedings convicted soldiers. Sixty-three received life sentences and thirteen were hung without due process. The army buried their bodies in unmarked graves. Despite the bloodshed at Houston, the black press and civil rights organizations like the NAACP insisted that African Americans should receive the opportunity to serve as soldiers and fight in the war. Du Bois, the noted scholar, editor of the NAACP's journal The Crisis , and a close friend of Spingarn, supported the camp as a crucible of "talented tenth" black leadership, manhood, and patriotism.
Black college students, particularly those at historically black institutions, were the driving force behind the camp. Howard University established the Central Committee of Negro College Men and recruited potential candidates from college campuses and black communities throughout the country. The camp opened on June 18, , in Des Moines, Iowa, with 1, aspiring black officer candidates. At the close of the camp on October 17, , men received commissions, a historical first. The military created two combat divisions for African Americans.
One, the 92nd Division, was composed of draftees and officers. The army, however, assigned the vast majority of soldiers to service units, reflecting a belief that black men were more suited for manual labor than combat duty. Black soldiers were stationed and trained throughout the country, although most facilities were located in the South. They had to endure racial segregation and often received substandard clothing, shelter, and social services. At the same time, the army presented many black servicemen, particularly those from the rural South, with opportunities unavailable to them as civilians, such as remedial education and basic health care. Military service was also a broadening experience that introduced black men to different people and different parts of the country.
Black women sacrificed as well. They contributed to the war effort in significant ways and formed the backbone of African-American patriotic activities. Clubwomen, many under the auspices of the National Association of Colored Women NACW , led "liberty loan" campaigns, held rallies, and provided crucial material and emotional support for black troops. Women joined war service organizations such as the YWCA and the Red Cross as well as establishing their own groups, like the Women's Auxiliary of the New York 15th National Guard, to meet the specific needs of black soldiers. The war also spurred an increase in political activism amongst black women. For the growing number of women who worked outside the home, the war created new opportunities for them to organize collectively and advocate for greater pay and equitable working conditions.
Laundresses in the South formed associations and engaged in strikes to protest unfair treatment at the hands of their white employers. In Mobile, Alabama, for example, some laundry workers walked off the job, insisting, "We are protesting against this discourteous treatment and we intend to stay out until our communications are answered and they agree to deal with our committee. The war and the pressures of patriotism tested the effectiveness of black political leaders. A number of prominent African Americans worked closely with the government both to rally black support for the war and to address issues such as lynching, segregation, and discrimination against soldiers that exacerbated black dissent.
Emmett Scott, the former secretary to Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute, served as a special assistant to the Secretary of War in charge of matters related to African Americans and the war. His efforts yielded limited results. He did, however, organize a major conference of black newspaper editors and political leaders in Washington, D. The following month, W. Du Bois wrote the editorial "Close Ranks," in which he stated, "Let us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks shoulder to shoulder with our own white fellow citizens and the allied nations that are fighting for democracy. Du Bois's words generated considerable controversy within the NAACP and in the pages of black newspapers across the country, due in part to the fact he was simultaneously advocating for an army captaincy in military intelligence.
The controversy reflected the tension between patriotism and race loyalty many African Americans grappled with throughout the war and leaders such as Du Bois struggled to navigate effectively. The war most directly impacted those African Americans called to fight and labor in the military overseas. Over , crossed the Atlantic and served in France. They dug ditches, cleaned latrines, transported supplies, cleared debris, and buried rotting corpses.
Nazaire, Bordeaux, and other French port cities to load and unload crucial supplies. The two black combat divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, made up of approximately 40, troops, did see battle. Unsure how to use black national guardsmen, the American army "loaned" the 93rd Division to the French army. It was the only American division to serve exclusively under French command.
Despite having to acclimate to French methods of combat, the division's four regiments performed exceptionally well and received numerous commendations. Nicknamed the "Harlem Hellfighters," the regiment first garnered notoriety for its world-class band, led by the acclaimed James Reese Europe and made up of top musicians from the United States and Puerto Rico. Europe's band, along with other black regimental ensembles, popularized jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture.
The th received equal acclaim for its combat performance. The regiment served for days and ceded no ground to German forces. They were the first American regiment to reach the Rhine River in Germany following the armistice and returned to the United States national heroes. The 92nd Division, in comparison to the 93rd, had a much more harrowing experience. White army officials characterized black soldiers of the division as rapists and spread vicious lies among French civilians. African-American officers were particularly singled out for racist treatment because of their status.
Viewed as a threat to white authority, many were unjustly transferred out of the division and others were court-martialed on bogus charges. Despite inadequate training and racial discrimination, the division as a whole fought well. However, one regiment, the th Infantry Regiment, performed poorly during the Allied Meuse-Argonne offensive in September and was used by the military to characterize all black soldiers and officers as complete failures.
African-American soldiers would contest these slanderous charges well into the postwar period. The rigors of combat and labor challenged black soldiers' physical and emotional stamina. Nevertheless, service in France constituted a remarkable experience. African-American troops often interacted with North and West African soldiers serving in the French military, expanding their sense of diasporic belonging. Black soldiers received a warm welcome from French civilians, who, unlike white troops of the American army, exhibited little overt racism.
Travel and service in France expanded the boundaries of how black soldiers viewed the world and their place in it. Lemuel Moody, a soldier who served overseas, reflected that his experience was "altogether improving and broadening. I see things now with different eyes. When the war ended on November 11, , African Americans anxiously and optimistically hoped that their patriotic sacrifices would have a positive impact on race relations and expand the boundaries of civil rights. Political leaders attempted to exert influence on the Versailles peace proceedings. Du Bois organized a Pan-African Congress, held in Paris from February 19 to 21, , which challenged the legitimacy of European colonialism. William Monroe Trotter of the Equal Rights League was so determined to reach Paris that, after being denied a passport by the State Department, he obtained passage as a cook and ultimately presented his case to the peace conference.
International pressure was closely tied to the domestic expectations of African Americans. Homecoming parades for returning black soldiers, in the North and South, attracted thousands of people and signaled a determination to translate their service into social and political change. On February 17, , the th Infantry Regiment famously marched up Fifth Avenue and into Harlem before some , onlookers. A spirit of determination, inspired by the war, surged throughout black America. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why. African Americans were indeed forced to fight, quite literally, for their survival following the war.
James Weldon Johnson characterized the bloody summer of as the Red Summer. Fears of labor unrest, "bolshevism" stemming from the Russian Revolution of , and the return of black soldiers spawned a nationwide surge in violence, much of it directed at African Americans. Race riots erupted in several cities, the most significant occurring in Washington, D. In October , whites in Elaine, Arkansas, massacred hundreds of black people in response to the efforts of sharecroppers to organize themselves. In the South, the number of reported lynchings swelled from sixty-four in to eighty-three in At least eleven of these victims were returned soldiers.
For African Americans, the end of the war brought anything but peace. How African Americans responded to the postwar resurgence of white supremacy reflected the depths to which the aspirations of the war and expectations for democracy shaped their racial and political consciousness. The war radicalized many African Americans and deepened a commitment to combat white racial violence. At the same time, the contributions of the soldiers, as well as peoples of African descent more broadly, to the war effort swelled racial pride. Marcus Garvey tapped into this social, political, and cultural milieu. The UNIA, predicated upon the principles of Black Nationalism and African diasporic unity, quickly became the most dominant mass movement of the postwar era.
A host of other radical organizations and newspapers complemented the UNIA and signaled the arrival of the "New Negro.In his book Forever Essay On Black Power MovementEric Foner recounts the story of Slaughterhouse Five Analysis disgruntled planter Essay On Black Power Movement a freedman loafing Essay On Black Power Movement the job:. Belinda, now free after half a century of labor, beseeched the nascent Massachusetts legislature:. It was too far for Ross to walk and get Essay On Black Power Movement in Odysseus Journey Home In Homers The Odyssey to work in the fields.