AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY FROM 1877-TO THE PRESENT 8
AfricanAmerican History from 1877-to the Present
AfricanAmerican History from 1877-to the Present
Fromthe period the African people weresubjectedto slavery to the current age characterized by freedom among the manyAfrican American residentsof theUnited States, the entire period wasmarkedby key events including courageous stories like the UndergroundRailroadand the black movement. According to Thelin, (2011), the transitionfrom brutality and slavery of African American people to freedom inthe current time represents one of the key themes of theAfrican-Americanpeople. Theevents in the African-American history play a significant role in theAmerican past, not only because of the championing of civil rightsbut because of the courage and strength of people who foughttirelessly to see freedom of their people come to pass, and theyshould be celebrated, and humanity embraced in the whole world.
Therise of slavery in the United States in 1619 that wasaimingtowards solving the labor need in the North America colonies led toAbolitionismand the UndergroundRailroadin the year 1831. Effortsof the slaves characterized the abolition of movements in NorthAmerica in its early stagesobtained from Africa trying to liberate themselves from the torturethey went through (Sinha,2013).They were later on backed up by white settlers who opposed slavetrade onreligion and moral grounds, a good example being Quakers.Theever growing cotton industry made slavery avitalpart in solving the labor crisis they faced, leading to the declineof the movement in its early stages. However, in the 19thcentury, a new brand of abolitionism characterized by radicalactivities emerged in the Northern parts of America purposely tocounter the Fugitive Act of the year 1793 which wasbranded bytightened slave codes in many southern States. WilliamLloyd Garrison led the movementas its criticalvoice. He founded the abolitionist paper dubbed “The Liberator”in the year 1831 which came to be known as oneofthe most extremist antislavery activities in America.In1780s antislavery Northern people, many being free black helpedslaves escape from the plantations in the South to Northern partsthrough freenetworks. The Underground Railroad efforts gained much momentum in1830 and helped 40,000-100,000 slaves reach freedom.Itwasasignificantmilestone in the American history as it set a ground for the fightfor freedom from slavery as it created tensions which convincedpro-slavery Southerners of the determination of the Northern peopleto end captivity in America.
Thenext major event is the Harlem Renaissance – 1920, which camealong with thenoteworthymigrationof the black people from the rural areas of the Southern region tocitiesin the areahence bringing about a culturalrenaissance. According to Keyser,(2015)the black Renaissance also referred to as Negro movement marked thevery first time that the media mainly the mainstream publishers andother critics focused their attention onAfrican American literature, art, music and politics.
BessieSmith who was a blues singer, pianist Jelly, Louis Armstrong, dancerBaker,and actor Robeson were among the best talents during the HarlemRenaissance. On the other hand,the rebirth wasfeaturedby eloquent writers such as McKay, Hurston and Langston Hughes. Therewas countlessexposure to different creative content however,the black writers relied on white-ownedmedia publications since they did not have their own. In 1926 CarlVonVechten published a controversial bestseller which talked about theHarlem lifestyle and portrayed the attitude of many whites in urbanareas, who considered the blacks’ culture as being primitive. Itledto W.E.B. Du Bois who supported the views of Carl Vechten and ralliedagainst the novel. He greatly criticized works by black writers suchas “Home to Harlem” astorybookpublished by McKay. Bois argued that this jobwas supporting negative stereotypes of the black people.Consequently, organizations such as NAACP and National Urban Leagueturned their focus on economic and political challenges facing theblack population,leading to the Harlem Renaissance drawing to a close.
Itsinfluence stretched to other parts, giving black writers and artistsan opportunity to mainstream. Thestep wasasignificantmilestone towards the blacks since it offeredan opportunity to usethe media platform to express themselves and voicetheir grievances through art and literature. According to Foner,(2013) this played a key role in promoting self-conscience and fightfor freedom even in the modern age.
Also,the Harlem Renaissance in the period between the 1920sto mid-1930s, the use of artistic works by the blacks kindled anewcultural identity.The “New Negro”charactersignificantlytransformed the early signs of social disillusionment experienced bythe blacks. They were able to be proud of their race (Foner, 2013).Itwasthe beginning of their fight towards freedom. Self-realization playeda vitalrole in ensuring the black people got space in the American societyhowever much they wereviewedas slaves. However, later on,things changed and the approach the African America used to air theirgrievances changed. Martin Luther King Jr. led peacefuldemonstrations to champion for the rights of the blacks. Ithelpedto shape the American history and how the African Americans areregardedin the modern day.
Integrationof the Ole Miss in the year 1962 was ananothermilestone towards the strugglefor blacks’ civil rights. Itcanbe traced back to 1950s when African Americans had startedgaining admission in white colleges and universities in smallnumbers. However, a major crisis erupted when “Ole Miss” a stateUniversity of Mississippi admittedJamesMeredith, a black man. Having served in the Air Forceand studied at All–black Jackson State College, James had triedapplying for an admission in Ole Miss University to no success. Hewas later helped by NAACP to file a lawsuit citing racialdiscrimination as a reason for his admission rejection. In 1962 thecourt ruled inhis favor,but state officials swore to stop his entry.Onhis admission day,chaos erupted that led to losinglives of 2 people and over 150 injured. Theorderwasrestoredafter PresidentKennedy sent over 30,000 troops,but the integration struggle continued. Wallace was forced tointegrate University by the FederationNational Guard. Itledto black students gaining admission in whiteaffiliatedColleges and Universities up to today. Henceit contributed towards the growth of themodern day America through diversification of education andopportunities.Lastly,the black power movement formed in 1965 was yet another campaignthat led to modern day freedom that African American living in theStates enjoys.The movement was fuelled by the many frustrations the blacks faced inAmerica. According to Hamilton,(2011)the black power movement was mainly formed to counter racial violencethey faced from the whites. It was awayof creating self-conscience and self-defense for African Americansfrom white oppression. Themovement championed for blacks to seize the opportunities themselvesand not look at racist white institutions. To gain their desires theybelieved in action,for example,getting better jobs and good housing just like the whites. Itwasthe beginning of serious championing for civil rights that had earlyon started. Hence leading to the formulation of the Black PantherParty for self-defense by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale whose objectivewas to protect blacks from white brutality. As the name suggests, theparty was mainly formed to promote self-defense among the AfricanAmericans. Among its early activities was the patrolling initiativeof its members around the African American homesteads andneighborhoods to protect its people from police brutality which wascommon.TheBlack Panther Party later developed into a Marxist group which calledfor all African Americans to be armed, exemption of all blacks fromsanctions introduced by Americans, release of all the black peoplewho were behind bars and compensation of all African Americans whohad been exploited by the Americans. Itledto clashes between police and its members in California resultingin the killing ofa police officer. Newton, one of the college students who formed theparty wasconvictedof manslaughter. Newton’strial gained national attention to the organization with anadditional of 2000 new members. Also, itincreasedits relevance and helped the Blacksin championing for their civil rights something which bore fruits inJuly 1964 when the Civil Rights Actformulated thanks to Martin Luther Jr.’s nonviolent resistance. Ithelpedto shape the America of today,and the freedom enjoyed that led to the election of the very firstAfrican American President Barack Obama in the United States in 2008and his inauguration on 20thJanuary as the 44thPresident of the United States.Themain difference between the role played by African-Americanin the early 1920s and their roles in the late 1960s is that early onthere were no proper policies formulated that would help them fightslavery. Attheend of the 1960s,some African American people were civilized and knew their civilrights and knew how to defend themselves bythe law. Dueto this, it ledto the formulationof parties like the Black Panther Party whose objective was toprotect blacks from white brutality Hamilton, (2011). Insummary, different events took place from the very beginning of therise of Slavery in America to the time the African Americans gainedtheir freedom. The events wereas a result of courageand strength of the people who led the movements that championed forhumanity and libertyfrom slavery such as college students like Newton and leaders likeMartin Luther KingJr. These events and actionshad one objective which was fighting for civil rights of the blacks,which indeedafter its enactment shaped the America of the modern day.
Thelin,J. R. (2011). Thehistoryof American higher education.JHU Press.
Sinha,M. (2013). Architects of Their Liberation: African Americans,Emancipation, and the Civil War. OxfordJournals,7-12.
Keyser,C. (2015). MakingNoise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture andUS Modernism by Mary Chapman, and: Writing with Scissors: AmericanScrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance by EllenGruber Garvey (review). TheJournal of Modern Periodical Studies, 6(1),85-89.
Foner,E. (2013). GiveMe Liberty! An American History: Seagull Fourth Edition (Vol.1). WW Norton & Company.
Hamilton,C., & Ture, K. (2011). Blackpower: Politics of Liberationin America.Vintage