In the American history, many events have taken place to shape the African American population today. The African American population has for a long time demonstrated regarding equality and nondiscrimination and even today, there are still efforts to fight for equality in the distribution of social resources (Barnes & Bowles, 2014). The African American population has played important roles in bringing the United States to the place it is now. Some of these efforts include fighting for freedom and the rights of the African American citizens (Barnes & Bowles, 2014). Although much has been achieved, there are still cases of discrimination to the African American populations and they have continued to fight for their rights and freedom. This paper will discuss some of the significant developments, which have happened in history to shape the African American population in their fight for civil rights and freedom (Barnes & Bowles, 2014).
Exodus to Kansas (1879)
This event took place in 1879 and involved the migration of the African American from the south of the United States. The African Americans due to the persistent hardships and injustices attributed to the Democrats of the South, they departed from their homes in search for peace and protection in other places (Smith, 1881). These people fled to Kansas where peoples’ rights were respected and there was freedom in this land. In Kansas, everyone was fairly compensated for the work they did. A senate committee was appointed in 1880 to investigate the massive migration of the black community from the South (Smith, 1881). The committee found out that the reason for the migration was due to the political unfairness, which included the infringement on the rights to vote and the rights of citizenship. Kansas had been declared a free state courtesy of John Brown who had fought for the rights of all citizens if the United States (Smith, 1881).
They saw Kansas as the place of refuge where they would have their rights respected, they would have political freedom to participate in the voting process, and a place where they would be fairly compensated for their efforts enabling them to be economically stable (Smith, 1881). This migration was the first mass voluntary migration of the African Americans in the history of the United States. This led to a lot of public attention across the United States, which led to the Senate committee passing a resolution the same year, which gave the backs an opportunity to testify against the South democrats (Smith, 1881). The committee also found out that some of the African Americans had become successful and had attained a reputable education status and some had even become wealthy owning large pieces of land. These were made leaders of the other uneducated populations (Smith, 1881).
Some of the committee members argued that the blacks did not know what was best for them since they were uneducated and they still required supervision from the white superiors. A majority of the national leaders opposed this movement arguing that the blacks could gain more power and freedom in the South as a majority of the black population were living in that region (Smith, 1881). However, the black laborers argued that fleeing to the new land was their only redemption since their lives had been difficult in the South. The migration did not bear much fruit on the black population as violence towards the blacks continued with lynching of the black population increasing. A positive effect was the improved labor relations with the white employers. There were better price offers in compensating the black workers (Smith, 1881).
Plessey vs. Ferguson (1895)
This took place in 1896 and was a decision made by the United States Supreme Court and involved the upholding of the constitutional laws regarding the racial segregation in public facilities (Supreme Court Of The United States, 1895). This case originated from the Louisiana’s Separate Car Act of 1890, which required that all railroads provide equal but separate accommodations between the whites and the African Americans passengers (Supreme Court Of The United States, 1895). The law prohibited passengers in accessing accommodations not set for them in the train based on race. The Supreme Court argued that this could not happen for interstate travel and that all citizens are equal before the law (Supreme Court Of The United States, 1895).
The law does not segregate the population as either black or white but regards all people as equal. This would allow African Americans and the whites to have equal access to public facilities (Supreme Court Of The United States, 1895). Although there was not much difference in the quality of the railway cars, it was different in other public facilities, which include toilets, public schools, and food cafes. However, the Supreme Court later overturned this decision in 1954. The Plessey decision “separate but equal” has been stated as the worst decision made by the United States Supreme court history and declared unconstitutional (Supreme Court Of The United States, 1895).
Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)
This event took place in 1955 and included a mass protest against the bus system by the African Americans, which lasted for 381 days (Parks, 1956). This happened in Montgomery in Alabama and involved activists who demonstrated leading to a Supreme Court’s decision, which declared that Montgomery’s segregation laws on the bus system were unconstitutional. One of the leading activists was Rev. Martin Luther King Junior who led the civil rights movement (Parks, 1956). The Montgomery bus boycott resulted after an African American woman Rosa Parks denied a white passenger her seat on a city bus. During this time, bus laws indicated that black passengers were supposed to sit at the back of the bus with the whites at the front (Parks, 1956).
The blacks were supposed to give the whites their seats if the front seats became full. This led to Rosa Parks being arrested and taken to jail. Although she was later bailed out, this led to demonstrations and bus boycott for a long period (Parks, 1956). Organizations, which supported the Montgomery bus boycott include the Women’s Political Council which had been founded in 1946 to fight for improved bus conditions (Parks, 1956). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was also part of the boycott as Rosa Parks worked at the organization as a secretary. This boycott was also attributed to the fact that the African American Populations made the majority passengers in the buses (Parks, 1956).
The boycott also faced retaliation by some white citizens and the Montgomery officials refused to meet the demands made by the Montgomery Improvement Association. Some of the activists were threatened with others being fired from their jobs, which did not achieve much in ending the boycott, which lasted for over a year (Parks, 1956). The Montgomery Improvement Association later filled a case against bus segregation where the Supreme Court upheld the federal district court’s ruling that segregation seating on buses was unconstitutional on December 20, 1956 (Parks, 1956). This led to the recognition of Martin Luther King Junior as the black leader and other black communities in other regions were encouraged to protest against racial discrimination and the fight for civil rights (Parks, 1956).
Civil Rights Act (1957)
This event took place in September 9, 1957 where the president of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957. This Act included the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act (United States & Cornell Law Library, 1957). This Act had been proposed by the Attorney General Herbert Brownell and was the first legislative process of the federal government in protecting civil rights of the African Americans (United States & Cornell Law Library, 1957). Some of the people believed this was a strategy for the president to win the black vote. This Act was meant to ensure that all African American citizens were allowed to vote and anyone who denied another citizen the right to vote would face prosecution (United States & Cornell Law Library, 1957).
The Act also created a United States Civil Rights Commission, which consisted of six white members to investigate and prosecute voter infringement allegations (United States & Cornell Law Library, 1957). This Act faced opposition from Democrats from the South arguing that the Federal government was imposing laws on the states, which weakened state governship, and the rights of the states as indicated in the constitution. The Act faced mixed views from the African Americans with some groups disregarding the act while others saw it as a starting point for the provision of the rights of the African Americans (Barnes & Bowles, 2014).
For the longest time, the African Americans have been treated unfairly and discriminated and at some point in the history of the United States, they had no rights in this country. Most of the Americans living in the United States came into this country as immigrants in search of freedom and it is unfair to discriminate other Americans based on their color and race (Barnes & Bowles, 2014). The efforts to ensure that the African Americans are treated equally as the whites have been a long fight, which is evident throughout the history of the United States (Barnes & Bowles, 2014). African Americans have fought tirelessly and have not given up in ensuring that they are treated equally and have the same rights as the white population. These events have led to the massive changes in the social and economic aspects which have helped them to grow the within the society (Barnes & Bowles, 2014).
Barnes, L. & Bowles, M. (2014). The American story: Perspectives and encounters from 1877. San Diego, CA: Bridge point Education, Inc. (Online Edition). Retrieved from https://
Parks, R. (1956) Rosa Parks Papers: Subject File, -2005; Montgomery Bus Boycott; Printed matter, 1956, 1976. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mss859430179/.
Smith, J. L. (1881) Autobiography, Including Also Reminiscences of Slave Life, Recollections of the War, Education of Freedmen, Causes of the Exodus, Etc. Norwich Conn. Press of the Bulletin Co Pdf Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/14015959/.
Supreme Court of the United States. (1895). U.S. Reports: Plessey v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/usrep163537/
United States & Cornell Law Library. (1957). Civil Rights Act of 1957, P.L. 85-315 (H.R. 6127). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Law Library.