The following essay is copyrighted and submitted by a DayInBlackHistory.com contributor (T.O.). It shares some thoughts on the violence involved in the push for civil rights.
Violence in the Fight for Civil Rights
Civil rights activists of the 1950s and ‘60s employed differing methods for acquiring their rights. Many maintained peaceful rebellion, while others participated in more violent actions. There are several factors which contributed to the outbreak of violence in the fight for civil rights. Some which especially affected it were the differences in leadership, the living conditions in urban areas, and de facto and de jure segregation.
Contrasting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s promotion of passive resistance, Malcolm X became a minister of the Nation of Islam. He supported the idea of black people separating from whites to create their own society. More dangerously, he also supported the use of weapons for self-defense so that blacks could defend themselves against violent white supremacists. Malcolm and others who shared his more forceful beliefs prompted a movement away from quiet sit-ins and boycotts and toward some of the most major urban and city rioting in U.S. history.
Due to the massive migration of African Americans to Northern cities during and after World War II, whites began to migrate, as well. Exemplifying de facto segregation, their racist attitudes caused them to separate themselves from blacks and move into the nearby suburbs. These movements made urban areas become slums with extremely poor living conditions. The health of the black people, as well as the education for their children, deteriorated and was neglected. Not to make matters an easier, brutal treatment brought on by white police forces ignited the anger of the residents in these poor communities, leading to the large eruption of urban violence. These supposed carriers of justice displayed the de jure segregation infused within the government. They followed severely racist laws as they abandoned the most sensible and moral rules by which people usually govern themselves. Radical groups, such as the Black Panthers, rose up to combat these wrongs through violence and rioting.
Although they were the very tactics employed by the police fighting against the rioters, the acts of violence brought on by racism during the Civil Rights movement were disgraceful. Rather than accomplishing the dream of racial integration and acceptance, whites and blacks were separating more than ever. Equality is still not completely at hand, but the conditions today are light-years ahead of what people fought for, and against, during the era.