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American Black Civil Rights


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American Black Civil Rights Essay, Research Paper

The 1960’s were a time of great turmoil

in America and throughout the world. One of the main protest issues

was black civil rights.

The movement really got underway with

civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X in the

early 1960’s. Students who wanted to jump on the equality and protest

bandwagon quickly followed. Most of the students went to the southern

states (Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana) to try and stop the racism

and hate crimes.

The truth of the matter is that the violence

and hatred would get worse before it got better. Even though the Negroes

had very few rights they were not assaulted and abused nearly as much as

when the college kids came and started to ‘help’ them. Then the Klan

became stronger and more violent committing many more lynchings and hangings.

But gradually most of the whites came around to the idea of integration,

and did not see the blacks as a ‘threat’ anymore.

The only reason that this great and monumental

change occurred was because of the great leadership of Martin Luther King

Jr and Malcolm X, not to mention the 1,000’s of other less famous civil

rights leaders, that worked to change the views of their community.

Also there were lobbyists and protesters that risked their lives and went

out on a limb to fight against injustice. All these factors, put

together, made one of the biggest changes in the twentieth Century.

In my essay I plan to compare the differences

of opinion between the six writers and directors etc. towards racism and

the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.

– 2 -

Rob Rheiner (the director of ‘Ghosts of

Mississippi’) has successfully portrayed the blatant dishonesty toward

blacks by the police force and the Mississippi courts. On one occasion

when the accused murderer was in court, the Governor of the State went

up and shook hands right in front of the victim’s wife. Another example

of dishonesty against blacks was that a retired judge had taken home murder

weapons (mainly from the murders of blacks) and kept them as souvenirs.

It was later discovered that police officers had also taken home evidence

from crimes against blacks, for souvenirs.

The murderer portrayed a ‘couldn’t care

less’ attitude during the first trial in 1962 and in the retrial in 1992.

He knew that he would be found not guilty in the 60’s with the all male,

all white jury. But he under- estimated the changes in people’s views

in the twenty years since his last trial and still had the same cocky attitude.

The theme of this text is different to all the others I have studied.

The writer of Malcolm X, Bernard Aquina

Doctor, has informatively shown (if not with a bit of bias) the life of

Malcolm X. He wanted to show that Malcolm dragged himself out of

the gutter to become one of the most famous civil rights leaders of the

twentieth century. This is shown by his chequered life, when he hung

around with criminals and committed small thefts, etc. In the text

he was shown as being right a lot of the time, as when Malcolm believed

in violent protest and Martin Luther King believed in non-violent protest.

‘Dr King was forced to reconsider his views [on non-violent protest] when

be was thrown in jail and beaten up’. This comment by the writer

makes Martin Luther King appear wrong and Malcolm right. This text is similar

to the Rosa Parks text in the way the writer looked upon Rosa Parks \ Malcolm

X, that is, in a revered way.

‘Rosa Parks, a Woman Who Changed a Nation’

by Kira Albin is focused on the great injustices that the black community

had to suffer in the 1960’s and beyond. She explains how the blacks

had to pay at the front of the bus and then walk around the outside to

the back door where, more often that not, the bus driver would pull away

without letting them on, even after they paid. Rosa Parks rose to

fame after she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, this

came at a time when the civil rights movement was under way, and the story

was published throughout America. It is similar to the Malcolm X

text as I explained before.

– 3 -

The Martin Luther King Jr article on Encarta

‘98 is an overview of his life and achievements. It pays special

attention to his ‘I have a dream’ speech. It has quotes such as ‘I

have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true

meaning of it’s creed.’ It also has quite a bit of background to

the speech explaining what he wanted for America. King’s assassination

is also covered with details about the FBI’s spying on him and what he

had done for society in general. The text is purely factual, slightly

similar to ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malcolm X’

The ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin

Luther King Jr has a potent message which is delivered in a powerful manner.

He managed to reach both the black and white audiences. Unlike Malcolm

X, he is for the idea of integration and hoped that some day it would be

self-evident that all men are created equal. This is shown by the

quote ‘One day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls

will be able to join hands with little white boys and girls as sisters

and brothers.’ This text is unlike any other I have studied because

it is so powerful, forward thinking and imaginative.

Alan Parker, who directed ‘Mississippi

Burning’, made a very powerful movie about a small Mississippi town with

a large Klan and small-minded residents. FBI agents were called in

to investigate the murder of one black man and two Jews. When one

of the Sheriff’s deputies was on up on trial for beating a black man, the

judge said ‘crimes were provoked by outside influences and the deputies

received suspended sentences. This is similar to the movie ‘Ghosts

of Mississippi’ because the judge was very racist and not inclined to convict

a white man who assaulted or killed a black man. Most of the locals

were members of the Ku Klux Klan and shared the same views as the judge

and police. One of the townsfolk said ‘We don’t accept Jews because

they reject Christ and have control of the international banking cartels,

they are at the root of what we call communism today. We do not accept

papalists, because they bow to a Roman dictator, Turks, Mongols, Tartars,

Orientals or Negroes because we are here to protect Anglo-Saxon democracy

for Americans.

– 4 -

In conclusion, the topic of racism and

civil rights of the 1960’s is a large one with many different points of

view. I think that Martin Luther King Jr had the right idea of integration

and non-violent protest. Malcolm X’s idea of keeping segregation

was untenable. The text with the most relevance for me was ‘The Ghosts

of Mississippi’ because it really showed how few rights black people really

had, and the unnecessary cruelty and hatred against black people that had

done nothing to them.

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