Literature ReviewWhat was the civil rightsmovement at its peak?Itis difficult to contain civil rights in a simple definition such as “The rights of citizens to political andsocial freedom and equality. “1.
The basic structure is encompassed, but the perseverance and struggle to obtainthem is not. Civil rights in the 21st century are far more protected than theyonce were, but movements such as Black Lives Matter2, showthat racism is still abundant and that more can be done to combat inequality. The Emancipation Act, passedin 1863, declared “that all persons held as slaves” within therebellious Confederate states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”This marked the commencement of a new era, one where blacks would be regardedas humans rather than as property. The 13th Amendment, which formally abolishedslavery in the entirety of the United States, was passed on December 6th,1865.This did not mean however that all Americans accepted them as equals,rather on the contrary, they saw them as competition for their jobs, land andsuitors.
In 1866, Congress enacted the first Civil Rights Act, which grantedcitizenship to all those whom were born in the USA and protected black legalrights, such as suing and testifying in court. The African American civilrights movement formally originated after the unanimous decision of Brown v Board in 1954,whereby the Plessy v Ferguson decision was overturned and the notion of “separate but equal” was questioned. The movement henceobtained a new lease of life, were hope was granted for the future of endingsegregation and inferiority.
Themovement could be argued, officially ended in 1968 with the assassination ofMartin Luther King when the majority of the momentum that led to the CivilRights Act and Voting Rights Act becoming law peaked. What were the objectives?1. DesegregatePublic transport2. Desegregateschools 3. Fullvoting rights4. Giveaccess to jobs and housing Rosa Parks (with the help ofthe NAACP) through her defiance to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger,spurred the Montgomery boycott which lasted for 382 days, when the courtsordered that the segregation of city bus services were unconstitutional. Thisrendered the first objective achieved. The U.
S. Supreme Court case Brown v.Board of Education, which was successfully argued by the NAACP3 in1954, outlawed the impetus for nationwide racial desegregation of publicschools. This effectively achieved the second objective. The thirdobjective was seen to have been achieved through the voting rights actof 19654andthe fourththrough the 1968 civil rights act and the Kerner Commission of 19685.The main objectives had been met by the end of the 60’s and blacks had legally achieved all that they could have.
But had they really? Have attitudes sufficiently changed?Police Attitudes According to a Gallup survey conducted in Aug 2016, African Americans’perceptions of widespread racism has reached 61%, rising from the previous yearas a response to the highly publicized police killings in confrontation withblack men in 2014 and early 2015. The 1994 Crime Bill6issued by Bill Clinton resulted in disciplinary measures to “protect”people from crime that had no rehabilitative or preventative measures and resulted in an amplification of those imprisoned for petty crimes. Thisresulted in the most change for African-Americans as Whilst 1 in 17 white men have a likelihood to go to prison –for black men the statistic is 1 in 3, Ontop of this, the statistics of wrongful convictions are even more troubling. Inthe National Registry of Exonerations’ new report, Race and WrongfulConvictions in the United States, researchers looked at the1,900 exonerations reported between 1989 and 2016. Compared to the 13 percentof the population that African-Americans make up, they comprise 47 percent ofthose who were exonerated. This disparity cuts across all major crimescommitted, but the report focuses on the three categories whereexonerations are most frequent: murder, sexual assault, and drug crimes. The number of African-American incarcerated males is currently at 2.36million, a staggering statistic compared to that of 1970 where it was only357,292.
With the African American prison population having steadily grownthroughout the years, it is questionable as to what extent this is down to risingcrime, but also due to rising racist attitudes. (National Registry of Exonerations, 2017) In table A, we can see theexonerations that African-Americans are given, and that in 4 out of 7 of thecrimes committed black Americans supersede their white counterparts, andoverall, they represent 8% more of exonerations. We can see that they face the highestdiscrepancy in exonerations for Drug Crimes and forinstance, in 2003, black men were reportedly 12 times more likely to beincarcerated for drug offenses even though surveys have shown few discrepanciesbetween the sale of white and black people selling drugs. BlackLives MatterThe Black Lives Mattercampaign began in the summer of 2013 with the acquittal of the man who killedAfrican-American teen Trayvon Martin. It aims to decentralize the fight forequality and depends upon the coordination of a large group of people tooperate7. The former New York MayorRudy Giuliani8 declaredthat Black Lives Matter was “inherently racist, dividingsociety against itself and only focusing on the “positives” of the black community”. “All Lives Matter” was launched as a response to the BLMmovement but many of its critics claim that it fails to address the problemthat BLM aims to affront as the problem is that Blacks are not treated asequals to whites, it “erasesthe vulnerability of and dehumanization of black people”9 Bill de Blasio, current NewYork mayor argues the contrary, that the BLM movement “changed the discussion on race for the better”10. He also states hisrealization of an “implicit bias”, that in order to effectively change people’s opinions of others Is African Americanssocio-economic status equal? Housing The U.
S government stillremains responsible due to its practises and policies that prevented blacksfrom getting on the property ladder in the 1930’s.These poor housing conditions have transferred through generated resulting inthe situation we have today. Vanita Gupta11states that “bankscontinue to build and structuretheir lending operations in a way that fails to meaningfully serve communitiesof colour based on assumptions about the financial risk”12.This is effectively redlining and makes certain that the African-Americancommunity will never prosper to the same level that their white counterpartsdo. If they are not granted the same economic benefits due topure stigmatisation, then this will remain and create a viscous cycle of missedopportunities. Troost Avenue, for example, in Kansas City has a racial dividingline that separates the city between blacks and whites, due to their economiccapacities and due to disinvestment in black neighbourhoods in the 70’s. The damage remains yet to be overturned and the Mayor Sly James isalso aware of this, saying “We have to stop this nonsense of north and south of theriver and east and west of Troost – we need to quit actinglike there’s a Berlin Wall … we must address our problems in a more constructive way.
” There remains a vast gap between whites and blacks who arehomeowners, with 48.4% in 2003 of blacks owning their own home and 75% ofwhites doing so (Mark Ledwidge, Kevin Verney and Inderjeet Parmar, 2014) This is potentially due tomortgage lending statistics; between 2007 and 2014 African Americans wereissued 5% of overall mortgages, falling from 8% in previous years. On top of this, white mortgages rose by 5%. SchoolingThe viscous economic cycle is still causingde facto segregation through economic situations in various areas of a city.Racial school segregation is currently as segregated as it was 50 years ago,after the plummet of the 1970’s. 37% of public schools throughout Americaare currently one-race schools13 Gardendale – a predominantly white city in Alabama has been grantedpermission by a federal district judge14to proceed in seceding from the school distract that serves the larger country,despite racial motive. The judge found that the exclusion would “assail the dignity of black children”– effectively reinstating a type of segregationand allowing for white children to experience an education their counterpartswill not. JobsThe average white American unemployment ratewas 5.
4% in 2014, whilst for black Americans, this was twice that at 11.5%.A theory advanced by Valerie Wilson at theEconomic policy institute is that black unemployment is this high not solelydue to joblessness –but also due to their resilience in sticking to their job search. Another study conducted by the WashingtonPost declared that one minority group would suffer if another one fared well, whilstMassachusetts was relatively successful concerning black unemployment – it was the worst for Hispanic unemployment. Whilst the median householdwealth for a white family is $134, 230, worryingly the statistic is less than ten times thatat $11,030 for a black family. Even when considering external factors such asparental prosperity and differing circumstances this statistic comprises ofsuch disparities that something needs to be done to remediate it. Isthere sufficient African-American political representation? The rise of Barack Obama tothe presidency culminated in an African-American reaching the peak of one’scareer in politics, reaching the highest position in the land.
In 2012; 66.6% ofeligible blacks were recorded to have voted in the election – a record number, showingthat they felt they had a representative –someone who would fight for their own policies. However, this was met with muchresistance by whites who – since 2011, 25 laws and two executive actions have passed in19 states to restrict voting access in America. At least 180 restrictive billshave been introduced in 41 states and some are still pending.15 According to Pew researchcentre16black voter turnout rate fell for the first time in 20 years with the HilaryClinton v Donald Trump election asmany felt that neither one of the white upper-class representatives fullyconveyed their aspirations for the country. With 547 people in the 115thcongress, only 49 of those are African-Americans17.However, it has risen from 46 is the previous congress and represents around 8%of the overall congress. 14 % of the country is African-Americans, meaning thatthere is still a discrepancy of almost half between the two races.
(1845 words) Discussion What needs to be done?Whilst I believe that theCivil Rights movement achieved its fair share of success in the height of itscourse; attitudes towards the black community, the African-American economicsituation and political representation still have a long way to go. However,its success cannot be undermined as without the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the1965 Voting Rights Act, as without these many fundamental cases fighting forequality would not have had sufficient precedent to do so. The likelihood of ablack president would have been minute, as without sufficient African-Americanvoters, it would have been near impossible to elect an African-American. Time and time again, it hasbeen proven that federal government intervention is necessary to impact acommunity and grant legal protection.
Before the Voting Rights Act18 itwas estimated by the NAACP that no more than 5 million African-Americans votedin the 1960 election but by 1964 over double voted – 12 million. It is thisfederal change that is implemented due to protests and work from those fightingfor equality that curates change. Howcan it be done?I believe that in order toachieve further equality these three things need to be addressed:- Legal Protection – Economic Opportunities to be madeavailable – Fair political representation Legal Protection Wrongful convictions, searchand arrests and police brutality all remain issues that all remain prominentand can be overturned by law rather than a general shift in attitudes. Ibelieve that for these incarceration statistics to become more balanced – it is not only larger convictions that need to beoverturned, but also shorter sentences that could have an impact on the waytheir lives turn out in the future. If they face 6 months in prison and pleadguilty (when not) – upon release they will facean economic backlash as well as the potential to commit crime in the future. This As seen in (National Registry of Exonerations, 2017), the severeoverrepresentation of exonerations shows how far too many African-Americans arebeing falsely imprisoned and having to be exonerated. However, these are thelucky ones – many who face lessersentences are not given the chance to fight for their innocence; the Centre onWrongful Convictions at North-western University School of Law19,for example, tells prisoners who ask for assistance that unless they have atleast 10 years remaining on their sentences, the Centre will not be able tohelp them because it’s overloaded with cases in which thestakes are much higher.
The Gardendale case that allowed fora new school district that would allow for racial discrimination is a primeexample of the injustice that black students still face. Monique N. Lin-Luse20is one of the defence lawyers who aims to appeal the decision. She fears thatGardendale is being allowed to form its own elite system – but also the fact itcan do so once the court has acknowledged that race plays a factor is “of deep concern”.The idea that segregation is still tolerable, and that the law is able to becircumvented means that other school districts could try to operate as a onerace system, distancing education from equality. Whilst Judge Madeline Haikala would argue that her decision to allowthe school district to secede should be allowed as parents should be allowed tohave control on a local basis21and black students should not have to bear the blame of them not being allowedto do so. If her opinion is shared by others, we are teaching African-Americanstudents that they are not worthy of the same education that white childrenare.
Education remains not only a necessity but a priority in the integrationof white and black students who We can see the difference that is seen when federalgovernment intervenes through the difference in stop-and-frisk tactics. Beforethey were deemed unconstitutional in New York City by a Supreme Court judge in2013, 54 percent of the 191,588 New Yorkers stopped-and-frisked by police thatyear were black compared to the 11 percent of searches that involved white people.City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., a defender of the program argues “If the police get a description of a young brown mancarrying a gun, should they be forced to stop a Norwegian grandmother just toprove they aren’t biased?” and “If we end the program, gun violenceis going to go through the roof.
” Although the stop-and-frisk technique canresult in certain findings that could have caused harm unto others, it fails todo so in an impartial manner concerning race22.In 90% of the stop-and-frisk cases those stopped posed no danger or threat andin 99.9% of the cases no gun was found.
The New York policy is riddled withracial profiling, as per the New York Times in 2011, the numbers suggest that”hundreds of thousands of people, mostly minorities, have been stopped for nolegitimate reason—or worse, because of the colour of their skin.”23This is effectively proven through statistics, with 87% of those who werestopped being black or Latino, compared to the 54% of the population demographicthat they represent in New York. Ibelieve that it is not a total suppression of policing against gun violencethat is needed but rather other, more effective, policies. Gun buy-back programs areseen as an effective tool. NYPD buy-back programs have taken over 7,600 weaponsoff the streets since 2008. EconomicOpportunities Without the same economicopportunities, this will mean that African-American’s will constantly besuppressed in the opportunities available to them. A viscous circle of povertycan lead to crime and incarceration, as well as poor health and a higher deathtoll.
Fair Political Representation Barack Obamas rise to powerin 2009 represented not only how far African-Americans had come since the daysof slavery and segregation, but the potential for change if enough members ofthe same community unite. (1056words) 1 Oxford English Dictionary2 Fighting toprevent violence inflicted by the state and vigilantes and build local power3 National Association for theadvancement of Coloured People4 Eliminated the so-called literacy test and otherdisqualifying factors that kept blacks from voting in the South5 Commission appointed by President Johnson6 Implemented a “three strikes” mandatorylife sentence for repeat offenders, money to hire 100,000 new police officers,$9.7bn in funding for prisons, and an expansion of death penalty-eligibleoffences.7 https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ 8 Opinions preconditioned by hispolitical background – people are personally responsible for their actions9 CarlaShedd, assistant professor of Sociology at Columbia University and authorof Unequal City.10 http://edition.
cnn.com/2016/07/11/politics/bill-de-blasio-chirlane-mccray-black-lives-matter/index.html 11 President and Chief Executive Officer of the LeadershipConference on Civil and Human Rights 12 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-35255835 13 Derek Black- former desegregationlawyer14 Judge Madeline Haikala – Southerner from Louisiana15 https://www.brennancenter.
org/analysis/voting-laws-roundup-2017 16 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/12/black-voter-turnout-fell-in-2016-even-as-a-record-number-of-americans-cast-ballots/ 17 http://thehill.com/homenews/house/306480-115th-congress-will-be-most-racially-diverse-in-history18 1965 – The VotingRights Act, signed into law byPresident Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965, aimed to overcome legal barriers atthe state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercisingtheir right to vote underthe 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States. 19 http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictions/aboutus/ 20 Of the NAACP LegalDefense & Educational Fund, Inc.21 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/judge-says-mostly-white-southern-city-may-secede-from-its-school-district–even-though-the-effort-has-attacked-dignity-of-black-school-children/2017/04/26/4d654232-2a89-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.b71ee166e4ee22 https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/stop-and-frisk-may-be-working-but-is-it-racist/267417/ 23 https://www.thenation.com/article/beyond-stop-and-frisk-toward-policing-works/