Posted: October 17th, 2013
African American History
African American History
The 2008 USA elections marked a great achievement for African Americans. President Barrack Obama was elected as the first Black American president. Considering the history of blacks in America, they have a big role in this achievement. They have worked hard to improve their status since they were brought into America as slaves. They have also endured many challenges and sacrificed. Their efforts have ensured that their future generations live in a favorable environment and they are accepted as part of the society. The past heroes fought and struggled to achieve equality and acceptance in the society. Today, the two races coexist in the society.
Slaves were brought in America from African countries. This is how the Black race began until they became full citizens of the states. When they came to America, they tried to develop themselves by acquiring education. A good example is Olaudah Equiano who is said to originate from Nigeria. After he got his education, he was freed. Education was important to him since he was almost captured again but his education saved him. Slavery and development of America went hand in hand. Slaves worked for the white people and they have greatly participated in building the states. They were used as cheap labor in economic activities. The business of acquiring slaves and selling them also contributed to economic development (Bankston, 2006).
After decades of enslavement, slaves decided to escape and have their freedom back. Slavery had been practiced for more than four hundred years. Slavery was characterized by oppression and hard labor. The black people felt they could not continue and they needed freedom. Since they could not get it easily, they planned to escape. They used the underground railway to escape. These efforts were supported by abolitionists and other proponents of anti-slavery. In the real sense, the escape was not a physical underground railway. It was a network route constructed in the southern states of America. The southern part was not restricted and it created a good escape route. These routes took the slaves to Canada Mexico and the Caribbean. The escape began in 1500s and it continued until the 1800s. Some of the popular people involved in this activity included Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Harriet Tubman among others. This activity had an interesting feature. It did not have any formal organization yet it worked efficiently for many decades (Blackmon, 2008).
Abolitionism and anti-slaves movements had begun even before the underground railway. They were an indication of commencement of blacks fighting for their human rights. It was a step for seeking a position of acceptance in the community. The slaves gave birth and their children were subjected to poor conditions. African Americans wanted their offsprings live have freedom and have a better future. Black people were considered inferior and they were discriminated. This is why they were used as slaves since they were powerless in the eyes of the Americans. As time went by, more white understood the importance of human freedom and they joined abolitionism. Some of the famous abolitionists were Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner, Albert Wilberforce, and President Abraham Lincoln among others (Finkelman, 2009).
It was encouraging to see Americans supporting the freedom of slaves. When Abraham Lincoln became president, he declared emancipation to the slaves. They were freed but the owners were not compensated. These slaves were about three million out of the four million slaves in America. However, the emancipation was only effective on non-confederate states. Lincoln promised the Confederate states he would offer them emancipation if they did not go back to union. No state that returned so the document was signed and the rest of the slaves were released. The slaves were referred to as freedmen since they were not made citizens. This proclamation marked abolition official and it was the Civil War’s main objective (Gates & McKay, 1996).
Emancipation proclamation ensured there were no more people held as slaves. The president gave this order with his authority of being commander in chief of the Army and Navy. The president intended to bring peace since the Civil War was going on. The slaves were being used to make various provisions in the war. Freeing them was a strategy of ending the war. In places like Georgia and Southern Carolina, freed slaves acquired land and settled. They also got a chance of joining the army at free will, to fight the confederacy. Joining the military was another significant step for the freed slaves (Bankston, 2006).
The emancipation proclamation encouraged universal abolitionism. Other nations started abolition movements and this is how slavery was completely brought to an end. It influenced union with the northern states. The major conflict causing Civil War was ended by the intervention of emancipation proclamation. All the states that had defied the emancipation order had to respect it eventually. Philanthropists like Albert Wilberforce argued a man could work better willfully than under coercion. Slavery was unnecessary and inhumane. Slaves faced many challenges like torture and sexual abuse among others. They had a right of freedom like every other human (Gates & McKay, 1996).
The black people learnt a lot after they gained freedom. They continued to fight for their rights by forming associations, which will help them in developing. Some of them were National Urban League and NAACP. It was formed to support the advancement of colored people. Freedom was not enough. They needed to benefit from the community. It also assisted them to fight injustices like discrimination due to their color. They fought honorably using law and courts. This association had a huge impact since it also influenced President Woodrow Wilson. He had allowed segregation in the Federal Government but later abolished it after intervention of the NAACP. This association fought for African Americans to be allowed as officers and Army members. Six hundred black officers were appointed and seven hundred thousand army officers were African Americans (Hampton et al, 1990).
The civil rights movement was had a major role in assisting the acceptance of Blacks in America. Many activists came forward and pleaded for the rights of the African Americans. The major challenge during this time was racism. This issue has continued even in the current days. Not every white American considers the blacks as equals. Activist like Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcom X and other renowned activists fought bravely for the rights of blacks. They were segregated and not well represented even in parliament. There were schools, hospitals and other facilities for the blacks. Blacks and white people could not share the same seats in a train or bus. This treatment was unacceptable to the blacks. They were human beings and equal citizens just like the Whites. Color was not supposed to make them get ill treatment (Hampton et al, 1990).
Factors like politics, religion, entertainment and civil rights have changed the perception of Americans in general. USA has many political parties including democrats and republicans. These political parties give freedom to all Americans to support either of them. Politicians have adopted integrity since they need to be elected by the citizens. All citizens have a right to vote and they should not be discriminated due to color or gender. This right is protected by the constitution. Religion has helped to curb racism. Religious people abhor racism since it is a vice according to the principles of their religion. Elimination of discrimination has enabled black leaders like Barrack Obama to be heard by the people. Initially, he was a senator then was elected into office of the president. White people have changed their attitude towards African Americans. They understand color does not matter, what matters is a person’s personality. Everyone is equal before the laws of the land (Finkelman, 2009).
Blackmon, D. A. (2008). Slavery by another name: The re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Doubleday.
Bankston, C. L. (2006). African American history. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press.
Finkelman, P. (2009). Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present: From the age of segregation to the twenty-first century. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gates, H. L., & McKay, N. Y. (1996). The Norton anthology of African American literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Hampton, H., Fayer, S., & Flynn, S. (1990). Voices of freedom: An oral history of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. New York: Bantam Books.
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