Throwback Thursday w/ TK
Do you know where you’re goin’ to? Do you like the things that life is showin’ you? Where are you goin’ to? Do you know? Do you get what you’re hopin’ for when you look behind you, there’s no open doors. What are you hopin’ for? Do you know?
Those words are from a Diana Ross song penned by Gerry Goffin. I couldn’t find a better quote to illustrate my point. As we look back for Throw Back Thursday, I want to take you through the civil rights movement up until today. Let’s explore together and see where we started and how far we’ve come, but more importantly if there is still work to be done, or have we finally arrived.
This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is hailed as a landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as “public accommodations”). Sadly, it took a law for White Americans to treat other races as equals. Such is the way of the United States.
If you’re black and your ancestry can only be traced back 200 years or so, it’s likely you are descendants of slaves. It’s a fact and as much as we don’t like it we cannot run away from it. I’m sure you’re aware that most of your families were never given that 40 acres and mule, that was promised to slaves once slavery was abolished (1865.) I aim to give you some sense of pride to replace your anger and disenfranchisement with The United States of America. A country that was brought about so that one may practice their religion freely and openly, dare we say a Christian nation, that obviously did NOT read Exodus.
After the abolishment of slavery, came a new way to keep the boot on the necks of the black race; it was called Jim Crow Laws. Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under, President Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president since 1856. His administration practiced overt racial discrimination in hiring, requiring candidates to submit photos. So from the highest office in the country to the lowly magistrate, it was legal to keep the races “Separate but Equal” (wink wink).
There was nothing equal about the treatment of blacks in this country, especially in the south. Southerners had waged a war against it’s own government to keep their “property” black men, women, and children. The lazy south no longer had their free workforce and disdain for those they once owned prevented them from seeing or treating these people as people and not dogs. Actually, lower than dogs, Southerners loved their dogs.
Although there were attempts to have these draconian laws overturned, (Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. The Board of Education) the civil rights movement is said to have begun with the actions of one– Rosa Parks. In 1955, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man because she was tired having worked all day and not being paid a fair wage. This simple act of Civil Disobedience, was an important catalyst in the growth of the Civil Rights movement. Her action, and the demonstrations which it stimulated, led to a series of legislative and court decisions which contributed to undermining the Jim Crow system.
Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used it to spearhead the Montgomery Bus Boycott following Parks’ action, it was not the first of its kind. Numerous boycotts and demonstrations against segregation had occurred throughout the 1930s and 1940s. These early demonstrations achieved positive results and helped spark political activism. When I say boycott, it was a complete and total boycott. People walked, car pooled, rode bikes, black taxi drivers charged $0.10fares (cost of bus fare) and did everything but ride those buses. It crippled the Montgomery Bus company and 381 days later the boycott ended.
50 years later, has much changed? You can sit wherever you want on a bus, drink out of the same water fountain as anyone else, and there is a Black president of the United States. Have we arrived? Is Racism now a thing of the past? You might say except for some isolated incidents racism is dead, and you’d be wrong. The Supreme Court has stated there are no longer needs for Affirmative Action or Voter Protection Laws, in the South. (The Supreme Court has gotten things wrong constantly on the race issue, it’s all about who is seated on the bench)
I submit that racism is worse now than in the past. Although Blacks are third in numbers (there are more whites and Latinos in the States than blacks) they make up 58% of the jail population. With affirmative action no longer needed and the economy being what it is, do you think you’d be inclined to hire someone that looks like you or someone from a different race?
Lastly, we say we want change but unlike our predecessors, we don’t seem to want to or be able to do anything. In MY opinion we’ve become complacent and too concerned about not wanting to lose what we have. King, X, Evans, and countless others were ready to and did give their lives for the cause. We care more about our Jordan’s and weaves. Stop and take a look around you and understand what is going on. The Tea Party is reactionary, far right. They want things to go back to the way they USED to be. Think what that would mean for you if we took a step (or several steps) backwards. Let us not turn back, but move forward. TOGETHER.
photo cred: All pictures are from library of congress
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TK’s Bio: Terrence Kyrell Hodge I was born 9/13/79, in what was then W. Berlin Germany, to Qualise and Lieutenant Tyrone Hodge of the United States Marine Corps. He lived in London England and graduated from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2000 with BA in English and Political Science. Terrence writes about any and everything. Terrence is planning a series of novels that are works of “faction” part factual (nonfiction) and partly fictional. He plans to bring a dual vision of American and European observation and opinions to PMA. He will bring blunt honesty with a sense of comedy. He says “I will write wherever I’m needed as I am NOT a one trick pony.”