Howeffectively did the improvements in Civil Rights meet the needs ofblack American's by 1968?
TheCivil Rights campaign was put in place in order to end racialdiscrimination and to open up equality to black citizens in theUnited States. Campaigning tactics included non-violent protesting,civil disobedience and legal action through courts. By doing so theywould be improving the lives of millions, but in order to achievethis goal they had to meet the basic needs of black American's.“Needs” can be defined as the necessities that blackpeople required in order to receive equality. In order for blackAmerican's to feel as though their needs had been met certain factorshad to be in place. They were fighting for economic equality, beingable to vote without intimidation, termination of segregated publictransport and places, to change attitudes, and the extinction of dayto day discrimination on the whole. Although all these factors werecovered by the Civil Rights campaign it is questionable as to whatextent they were covered; and whether it made a big enoughimprovement on the lives of black American's by 1968.
Beforethe Civil Rights campaign came about, the economic and social rightsfor black American's was almost non-existent. Black unemploymentrates seemed to remain constantly higher than the corresponding sumsfor white people and even if they were successful in finding a jobthey wouldn't usually receive equal pay. However due to the 1964Civil Rights Act a prosperous black middle class was quickly growingand gaining professional qualifications. Black families earning over$10,000 a year rose rapidly and in the 1960's black incomes went upover 100%. Although they were still only earning 61% of the averagewhite family this was seen as a valid improvement for blackAmerican's regarding their needs being met.
Thepercentage of black southerners in segregated schools was still ashigh as 58% in 1968, but with the Civil Rights Act of '64 and theEducation Actof '65 over the next four years progress became more rapid in thedesegregation of schools. Beginningin 1938 the court began to attack segregation and in the wake of theBrown v the Board of Education decision of 1954 and 1955 this too wasto demonstrate that the strategy of the dominant black organisationNAACP could undermine the legal foundations of Southern segregation.
Inthe urban South desegregation was introduced quickly and 70% ofschools in Washington DC and in boarder states desegregated schoolswithin a year. Meaning that black children had the opportunity of abetter education, therefore could potentially become more employablein later years leading to them being able to escape the povertycircle most were trapped in. However,despite Brown Northern schools were still segregated; bussing wasseen as a solution to the problem but white families didn't wanttheir children bused to inferior black schools nor did they wantghetto children bused to a white school. Therefore, concerns for thesafety of black children were increasingly high as many foundthemselves in a sea of racial discrimination. Sadly proving that itis easier to change the law than peoples mind sets.
By1968, the Civil Rights campaign had tackled many issues regarding theneeds of black Americans but one they found particularly hard washousing. Housing patterns had seen little change and black ghettosstill exist in cities such as Chicago and New York. Particularly inthe North it seemed as though things had worsened then in 1945. TheSCLC marches in Chicago '66 showed that segregation of housingremained stubborn. The ghettos became extremely overcrowded due tothe increased mechanisation, reducing the need for unskilled labourwhich automatically then limited black job opportunities evenfurther. In addition white Americans were moving out of the citiesand into suburbs taking with them many employment opportunities thatblacks needed. This had a huge effect on the lives of blacks becauseit now meant that where they lived was having a negative result ontheir work lives. It was already difficult enough to find work butnow it seemed impossible and the fact they couldn't afford to move toa better place resulted in their income suffering hugely. Thuscreating a vicious circle of poverty that seemed like it would neverend. By 1968, 30% of blacks were living below the poverty line, outof those 30% most were living in ghettos andit was only with the New Deal and the Second World War thatemployment and housing opportunities began to open up for them.Blacks along with whites benefited by the programmes introduced byRoosevelt to fight against poverty through the numerous housing andemployment schemes. Though such inducements lead to suggest becauseof this there was a growing improvement in the standard of life forblack families. However, is clear to see that the civil rights movement had little to noeffect on the housing side of their campaign, and that in the ghettosthere was no equality by 1968.
Itis still argued as to what extent black American's needs wereactually met by 1968 in the life of politics, as this issue has anumber of factors going for both sides. The 1965 Voting Rights Acthad a huge impact on African-American lives, as it disallowedliteracy tests and “constitutional interpretation tests” andestablished federal officials.
Thereforevoting was now granted to an additional 250,000 people, and withinthree years most of the black population had been registered to vote.Even though figures, still lower than white people, represented arapid change. In 1960, 4m black people had voted, by 1964 thisnumber grew to 6m. By 1968 the number of Southern black voters hadtripled from 1m before the act to 3.1m. This indicated that more andmore blacks were now feeling comfortable and accepted enough insociety to go and vote. However the reality of the situation was thatalthough they were legally allowed to vote, many felt that it wasineffective as they rarely had a candidate who they felt would beable to support them, and their black rights. Just because they wereregistered to vote doesn't mean that they wanted to.
Neverthelessthe act had reinforced the changing mood of opinion about blackparticipation in public life. Even more so white politicians nowfigured out that they needed black voters if they wanted to stay inpower, and black people saw an opportunity to become politiciansthemselves; therefore this increased their status and equality.Leaving the impression that although the process was slow, there hadbeen an effective improvement in black American's lives throughpolitics, and that the needs of black American's were on there way tobeing met.
Desegregationis arguably the greatest change. It was the 1964 Civil Rights Actthat helped by holding a powerful statement of equality. This meantan end to the areas still left in the US that were segregated. Thesupreme court had ruled that segregation on public transport wasunconditional. There were many campaigns done by the Civil Rights toensure that segregation would come to an end, the Montgomery BusBoycott being one of the mostsuccessful. It was a mass protest by all African-Americans to dowhatever they could to avoid using the Montgomery buses after anblack women was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man onthe bus. It ended after a city law was passed that desegregated thebuses. This helped ensure that blacks were well on their way toequality and showed that through non-violent protesting they couldget to where they were aiming for. This along with plenty othercampaigns such as the successful sit in protestsagainst the segregation of public places all helped meet the needs ofblack Americans in ensuring equality was an issue that couldn't beignored. Desegregation meant that blacks and whites legally couldlive side by side, ensuring that the two races would interacttherefore reinforced the idea that blacks could fit into society.Automatically, making them feel more equal and accepted. By 1968,justice was also an issue that was changing rapidly there were theend to the Jim Crow Laws,ensuring equality among both races would be respected. Outside thedeep South it seemed as though public opinions were changing, manypeople were beginning to appreciate equality. The media played animportant role, television, books, radio all were delving into theworld of equality and promoting a positive attitude towards it.Overall, it is clear to see that the work done by Civil Rightsmovement towards desegregation had a positive impact on blackAmerican's lives and had rapidly moved blacks closer towards equalityamong whites. Resulting in the fact that the Civil Rights campaignhad a successful impact in meeting the needs towards black Americanby 1968.
Thereis no doubt that the Civil Rights movement improved the lives ofblack Americans by 1968. They had successfully achieved and met a lotof black American's needs. Blacks legally had the right to use publicareas and transport without the fear of segregation, they werelegally allowed the send their children to any school, they werelegally allowed to vote, and they had a greater self confidence. TheCivil Rights campaign had - what it seemed - managed to achieve theiraim and meet black American's needs. Sadly, the reality of the matterwas that although on paper they were equal they still hadn't changedin the minds of many white Americans. There was still hiddendiscrimination in jobs, black children had to have official officersto look after them if they went to a white school for fear somethingwould happen, they ghettos still exist and black poverty remainedextremely high, and although they could vote most felt that it was anpointless task that would get them nowhere. Therefore when looking athow effective the improvements in Civil Rights met the needs of blackAmericans, it can be argued that on paper most of their needs hadbeen met, but the fact of the matter is, even though we can find waysto change how people are legally allowed to act it is much moredifficult to change the way in which people think.
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- 09-04-2013 16:27