From the earliest years of the European
settlement in North America, whites enslaved and oppressed the black people. In
as much as the civil war eventually led to the ending of slavery, the harsh
system against the black people continued as the whites asserted their
supremacy through suppressing the African Americans. In the early twentieth
century, African-Americans living in the South and many other states that
practiced abject racism were not allowed to associate with the white people.
They were banned from a host of institutions and even public accommodations
such as schools, hospitals, restrooms, hotels, restaurants, railroad cars,
libraries, concert halls, movie theaters, and even concert halls among others.
Some recreation areas have signs that read that dogs and Negroes were not
Riders). In some regions such as in the south, the black people
were even lynched on sight and suffered widespread discrimination, violence,
brutality, and intimidation. The bias led to the rise of the Civil rights
movement that sought to put an end to the practice. The movement was
characterized by violence, demonstration, and massive strikes to force the
government to heed to the rights of the black people. The African Americans
demanded equal opportunities and rights. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act ended
the segregation my public places and banned employment discrimination by color,
creed, Sex, religion or national origin and was the crowning of the legislative
achievement of the civil rights movement (Freedom Riders). However, the
journey to getting the act enacted was marked by tears, death, suffering, hurt,
and blood. However, the civil rights bill of 1964 resulted in improvements in
the social, economic, and political spheres that made the struggle and
sacrifices made in the civil movement worth it.
Following the Civil rights Act, the
African Americans could now access education at all the levels which led to
improved educational levels. The literacy levels among the African Americans
increased substantially following the affirmative action that the subsequent
governments came up with to ensure that schools, colleges, and universities
were accessible to the minority who had been segregated from quality education
before the Civil rights Act. Education is fundamental to the growth of every
society and therefore, by getting access to education, the African Americans
stood a better chance to compete fairly with the rest of the community. It was,
therefore, was the struggle for the children to get an education and better
Following the enactment law, there was
increased equality in resource allocation and initiation of other legislations
such as the removal of disability barriers and women rights, added to the Civil
rights Act. It is the access to education, healthcare, restaurants, and
opportunities to vote that further empowered the African Americans.
Furthermore, the women rights later added to the act were also applicable to
the black women and therefore, offered them an opportunity to assert themselves
and attain social, economic, and political influence that is essential for the
growth of every society. The African Americans could now enjoy the privileges
and rights enjoyed by other Americans and denied to them before the Civil
rights Act enactment. The physical, emotional, and psychological pain and
torture that resulted from having to be exempted from restaurants, trains,
schools, and even hospitals was now lifted thanks to the struggle that they had
instituted to push for their Civil Rights (Www2.ed.gov).
The act led to Increased employment
levels for the marginalized leading to reduced crime and other social problems.
The Act had provisions that forbade any form of discrimination based on sex and
race in hiring, setting wages, apprenticeship, promotions, firing of employees,
and other terms of employment. It is this that provided the racially
marginalized an opportunity to take up jobs and protected them from any further
humiliation and bullying at the workplace. The act protected the employees from
being more productive and laid a platform that the racially marginalized could
get jobs (Eddison, Debra, and Laura).. The
effects of employment are social advantages that came with it such as reduction
in crime due to economic and social uplifting that came with the act.
The act also led to the Economic growth
because of reduced unemployment and increased the productivity of the formerly
marginalized groups. Having the previously marginalized groups get educated and
have employment opportunities led to a positive effect on the economy of such
neighborhoods and states that had formerly denied them an opportunity to work.
It is because; the individuals that got the jobs also became more productive.
They could now pay taxes, afford housing and even medical insurance. Before the
Act, the majority of the individuals were more of an economic burden than
positive since they could not afford medical covers and did not have incomes
that they would pay taxes. Moreover, having the formerly marginalized groups
have a chance to determine and control their spending offered them an
opportunity to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product not just to their
states but also to the economy of America as whole leading to economic
productivity and subsequent growth (Eddison, Debra, and
The act led to political equality
leading to inclusive and political stability in the country. All Americans got
an opportunity to vote and protected their democratic rights. Before the Act,
the racially segregated and oppressed Americans felt the need to have their
right to participate in the political decisions of the country without facing
discrimination. The Civil War period also was marked by violence, protests, and
strikes, which resulted in political, instability in the country. With the Act,
the formerly marginalized groups got an opportunity to be part of the political
realm of the nation (Www2.ed.gov). The results of
the political, inclusive that came with the Act are seen to date that America
has an African American president and that there are female senators and other
leaders. It was a significant win for the Civil rights movement that faced pain
and suffering as they fight for their democratic rights.
The most interesting freedom rider is
Martin Luther King Jr., who made a fundamental contribution to the civil rights
movement. It is interesting that as the leader, King advocated for a non-violent
movement and yet he achieved substantial progress towards attaining civil
rights freedom to end poverty and racism. Advocates of nonviolence such as
Mahatma Gandhi inspired King as he sought for equality for the African
Americans (Jackson, 102). Even in the midst of police
brutality against peaceful demonstrators led by King himself, he stood firm
with his call for nonviolence. It was interesting to see the progress that King
achieved without using force like the earlier civil rights activists. It seemed
bleak that the government would be influenced without forcing them into a civil
war just as slavery was defeated through a Civil War. Despite the measures
taken by the government such as the imprisonment of King, he still stood firm
with his message of nonviolence and instead focused on the use of letters and
speeches to mobilize the African Americans and the entire nation as a whole to
join in the fight against the discrimination faced by his people. He was the
driving force behind the watershed events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and
the March on Washington (Jackson, 102).
His selfless and empathetic nature made
King a martyr and iconic figure of interest among the civil activists. King Jr.
was born in a relatively modest and affluent family in Sweet Auburn, which was
a neighborhood that had prosperous and prominent African Americans in the
country at the time (Jackson, 102). In fact, King had an education
and was not subject to poverty like the rest of the African Americans. King had
all he required to live a comfortable life without having to spend his days in
the streets, jails and eventually assassinated. He, however, could not sit back
and watch his brothers and sisters suffer in poverty due to the discrimination
by color. He chose the people over his personal life and ambitions. There were
countless other affluent African Americans before him and during his time, but
they were not as involved in the civil movement as he was. In fact, he left his
life as a teacher and as a clergy behind to go out and engage in the civil
movement (Kirk, 70).
King was also a prominent activist due
to his ability to use speeches and letters to call for action and to inspire
people. His writings and works remained legendary years after his death and are
still very inspiring to date. One of his outstanding writings was the Letter
from a Birmingham Jail that he wrote while in the prison cells. The letter was
inspirational in the sense that he expressed his remorse that the white majority
who were against racism could not speak out and challenges the system. He also
challenged them to see racism for what it is, and it is this letter that played
a significant role in rallying more support to the Civil rights movement (Kirk, 58-61). Moreover, his “I have a Dream” speech
has been one key historical speech. It served to inspire the people not to give
up and rallied more support to the movement. King proved his charismatic and
leadership skills through his writings that maintained the morale to continue
fighting for change but at the same time preaching peace. He used the pieces to
bring pout the pain and plight of the African Americans in the midst of the
massive segregation that faced them.
King’s courage and persistence were
also of much interest. In the midst of opposition, police brutality,
intimidation, and jailing, he remained focused on the course calling for voting
rights and an end to the racial discrimination (Freedom Riders). At the prison
cell in Birmingham, instead of caving into the intimidation, he took the time
to write and inspire the people to fight more. Moreover, he faced oppositions
and further criticism from a section of African Americans that felt the need to
use violence to fight for civil rights. There was deepening the rift between
King and young radicals that wanted the use of force and challenged King’s
commitment to working with the established political framework. Militant
leaders such as Stokely Carmichael rose to prominence and challenged King’s
tactics, but this did not deter or slow him down. In fact, he broadened his
scope of activism addressing other issues such as the Vietnam War (Freedom Riders).
In conclusion, the Civil rights Act
brought massive changes in the social, economic, and political sphere of all Americans.
It offered those who have formerly oppressed an opportunity to get the
education, health care, employment and further protected them from any form of
discrimination. It also resulted to the coming up of other laws added to the
Act such as the Women rights that further assisted in offering opportunities to
all Americans. It was possible through the relentless efforts and
self-sacrifices that came with sensational activists such as Martin Luther King
Jr. that laid his entire life and even got assassinated fighting for the change
that initiated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King and other activists made a
sacrifice for the benefit of not just the African Americans but for the entire
country as the country stands to gain economically, socially and politically
because of equality and inclusion of all Americans. Therefore, the civil rights
bill of 1964 was worth the tears, pain, death, and blood encountered in the
Civil rights movement.
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