During industrialization and colonization, many countries employed many tactics including conquest to acquire territories and colonies alike. During this period, the United States of America practiced slavery of people of color to work in their plantations and factories to generate wealth and power. However, a period of emancipation and different leaders rose to end slavery and racial segregation. Although some of the whites welcomed the African Americans to the larger community, others ignored the goodwill of the people and the move to become one society and instead their ignorance, racism, as well as self-interest, blinded them to fail shrug of segregation. This study looks at conflict and compromise that came with dealing with discrimination in the United States.
The assassination of Martin Luther King
It is more than fifty years in 2018 since the murder of the legendary Martin Luther King, and the United States was a country on edge. The resultant protests and riots in more than 100 cities were threatening the progress of the civil right at the time. Despite the enormous efforts put forth by the legislators to enact landmark legislation in the 1960s which included the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act among others; the country could not forge forth as she remained divided along color lines (Dayson, 28). There was a clear distinction; one society was white, well up, wealthy and calm, while the other was black, needy, insecure and abandoned by development.
Despite the presence of civil rights reforms, protesters in several cities like Kansas City turned to violence especially after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Although both blacks and whites mourned King's assassination, this killing widened the gap between white and African Americans. Many blacks perceived King's assassination as a plot to deny them the right to use nonviolence resistance in pursuing equality. Segregation was deeply rooted in several cities since the 20th century. The black population could not overcome segregation despite their protests over sufferings like exclusion from employment in war industries (Young, 108). Later, the blacks managed to fight against segregation through civil rights movements. In Kansas City, they formed organizations like the Community Committee for Social Action, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), etc., which led non-violent protests and boycotts to desegregate lunch counters. Their activists succeeded in putting the housing issue to a referendum vote although the young blacks did not believe in the white electorate that was expected to deliver the reforms. Hence, the black youths demanded the closure of schools in the city to commemorate the burial of King by holding nonviolent protests.
Vietnam Civilian Protest
When the Vietnam War intensified, the then U.S.A president Johnson could not realize the racial problems that Americans would face by involving in the war. The Vietnam War occurred during a period similar to the period of the rise of Black Power and Civil Rights Movements in America. Impacts of civil rights movements, black power and segregation aspects that African Americans faced while at homes included language and dress codes got transferred to the war zones (Young, 108). Although there was tension, the blacks in the military embraced Black Power both politically and culturally. Vietnam War was the first racially integrated war that America participated. Blacks participated in America's previous wars but segregated units.
Many African Americans who participated and returned from World War II had the desire to be given full citizenship denied for a long period. The blacks fought in previous wars because of their belief in democracy but were still denied basic human rights even after returning from defeating the threat of fascism in Europe and Hitler in 1945. Subsequently, boycotts, sit-ins and demonstrations put pressure on the authorities to desegregate public buildings and learning institutions. According to McGee's report, the Vietnam War was the first major war that African Americans were integrated. Similarly, black soldiers faced segregation in some ways: they were assigned unskilled duties, unfairly targeted for punishment and were denied promotions to higher ranks in the military. Eventually, the racial tension at home spread to Vietnam due to the refusal and inability of leaders to address the complaints of racial segregation adequately
Missouri Compromise was an effort by Congress to curb the political and sectional competitions caused by the request of Missouri in 1819 for admission as a slave legalized state. It occurred when U.S.A had 22 states divided between free and slave. Therefore, the admission of Missouri would interfere with that balance. Some years before the Missouri Compromise, there was tension between anti-slavery and pro-slavery in the country. For peace to exist, the Congress granted Missouri's request and at the same time admitted Maine as a free state (Forbes, 17). The Congress approved an amendment subdividing Louisiana Territory with an imaginary line distinguishing the free from the slave regions. Thomas Jefferson predicted that Civil War would arise if Missouri were admitted as a slave state while others felt it could solve the problem of slavery and anti-slavery perception in the country (MacKinnon, 1863). The Kansas -Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the Missouri Compromise establishing popular sovereignty about slavery in Nebraska and Kansas although both cities were on the north of the compromise line. In the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional because Congress got outlawed by the 5th amendment denying individuals the right to own property. The Missouri Compromise led to the continued suffering caused by slavery on the blacks. The African-Americans suffered from discrimination due to slavery. They lacked the rights to vote, the right to own property and more so, they got sold as properties of their male counterparts.
Missouri Mormon War
This war encompasses the violence around the armed confrontation between the U.S Army and the Mormon settlers in the Utah territory. The tension between protestant Americans and Mormons festered for two decades involving David Rice Atchison as a militia general resulting to the Mormon War and the death of Joseph Smith Junior, the founder of the movement (MacKinnon, 1863). During the Mormon War, the then U.S president sent troops to Utah Territory. The Mormons reacted by battling with the U.S troops for fearing violent persecution. It led to the death of many people in the violent conflict, especially in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
The church encouraged segregation by discouraged social interaction with the black people during the first century. The relationship between Mormonism and the blacks was unrestrained since the beginning of the last two centuries. Before the 1800's at least two black men were allowed to hold the priesthood in the churches. From 1800 to 1978, policies were put in place segregating the blacks from holding positions in the church as priests neither would they participate in baptism for the dead nor temple ordinance (MacKinnon, 1863). Church leaders taught all these restrictions about the blacks. Later in 1978, the church president Spencer W. Kimball put to an end the limits thus all races got the right to hold the office of the priest. According to Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, black skin was as a result of the curse of Cain. Both Young and Smith used these biblical curses to justify slavery. Young believed that the black was not supposed to vote due to the curse. They were also not supposed to hold priesthood nor marry the white. The Congress ended slavery in Utah in 1862 enabling the blacks to vote in 1867. Black people suffered discrimination and exclusion after the 1978 revelation. Although the Latter-Day Saints Church allowed people from different races to join, it never opened missions in regions with many blacks.
Slavery, slave traders, slave owners and all business, governments and institutions that embraced slavery were morally wrong. However, in the U.S slavery was abolished for more than a century ago. All men and women of America are now entitled to their rights as human beings. Even if most of them may not have a luxurious life, they are free. The modern-day leaders have the responsibility of improving the living conditions of the less fortunate blacks. Hard work, opportunities and education are a few of the best ways of improving the life of a black man's child.
Dyson, Michael Eric, and David L. Jagerman. I may not get there with you: The true Martin Luther King, Jr. Vol. 233. Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Forbes, Robert Pierce. The Missouri Compromise and its aftermath: Slavery and the meaning of America. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2009.
MacKinnon, William P., ed. At Sword's Point, Part 2: A documentary history of the Utah War, 1858-1859. Vol. 11. University of Oklahoma Press, 2016.
Young, Marilyn B., and Robert Buzzanco, eds. A companion to the Vietnam War. John Wiley & Sons, 2008
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