Essay Sample on Segregation and Activism

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1205 Words
Date:  2022-11-03


Human and civil rights activists of the 20th century played a significant role in leading the struggle for demanding freedom and equality. Racial discrimination had plagued the United States to the extent that members of the African American community did not have a voice in society. The supposedly superior communities perpetuated discriminative practices, founded on the historical injustices that the people had endured. Individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took the initiative to lead the civil rights movement. As a religious leader, Dr. King advocated for a nonviolent struggle in the fight against the rampant injustice (King Jr 1). However, he received intense criticism for participating in demonstrations. The American community should not perpetuate racial segregation nor oppose peaceful methods used to demand justice and equality.

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Discriminating against some sections of the population by race is an inhumane practice. For many decades, African American citizens did not enjoy their fundamental rights as did other communities. The American society held the view that African Americans were inferior people. As a result, they practiced segregation, a form of forced separation. They discriminated against the African American and denied them access to essential facilities and resources (King Jr 1). Besides, they opposed the attempts and activities of the underprivileged community in their demand for justice. Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a testament to the extent to which the Americans, including religious leaders, supported racial segregation.

Racial segregation is a form of injustice that has a series of adverse outcomes especially among members of the underprivileged community. For instance, due to forced and discriminative separation, inequality persists in society. The facilities that the African Americans could legally access were not of the same quality as those used by the other American community. Also, due to the belief that the underprivileged members were inferior, unjust treatment persisted in society. In response to criticism from eight religious leaders of the South, Dr. King states that "Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here (King Jr 1)." One of the notable injustices that arise due to racial discrimination is violent attacks targeting African American homes and churches.

Dr. King states that "Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country (King Jr 1)." His statement alludes to the brutal manner in which the hate-filled police force of the US participates in cruel, and inconsiderate acts that dehumanize the African American community. The concern of a biased police force that uses excessive force against African Americans still affects the present-day society, decades after the activism of Dr. King. Segregation of the people is a vice that created room for institutions designed to protect all citizens to develop biasness and negative attitudes towards African Americans.

Denial of access to critical resources such as education facilities steepens the gap between the oppressed and the oppressor. Segregation denies the disadvantaged citizens an opportunity to acquire primary education necessary for stimulating economic growth and development (Johnson Jr 528). As a result, the segregated people end up living in abject poverty for long periods. Thus, the people have to demand equal treatment and opportunities if they are to overcome poverty. In his letter, Dr. King's statement "...the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society" reveals the significant poverty gap created by segregation(King Jr 2). Thus, racial discrimination is a practice that hinders economic freedom and prosperity of the African American community.

Racial segregation led to the geographical concentration of poverty among African American populations (Johnson Jr 529). Other effects included persistent unjust treatment of the people in essential institutions such as the courts and the police system. Regardless of the adverse impacts of racial discrimination, the American religious community failed to support the methods of the activists. They opted to overlook the struggles of the disadvantaged and criticized direct action strategies such as sit-ins, peaceful demonstrations, and marches. The leaders termed the peaceful rallies as an unwise and untimely approach for addressing segregation issues. They opposed the methods on the basis that a new administration needed time to act on the grievances of the African American community.

The religious leaders believed that the actions of the groups of demonstrators led by Dr. King were acts of civil disobedience that showed a willingness to break laws (King Jr 3). For instance, the law dictates that an individual must obtain a permit before organizing a rally in a public place. They accuse the activist of deliberately breaking the rules by conducting parades without legal permits. Thus, the activities of the demonstrators are in contradiction of the laws of the land. Peaceful demonstrations that take place without formal authorization can quickly become chaotic when police seek to disperse the crowds. Besides, the rallies also disrupt the peace of other members of the community.

An analysis of the adverse effects of segregation that still characterize the African American community in contemporary society reveals that the methods of the civil rights movement were neither unwise and ill-timed(King Jr 2). The struggle for just treatment, human rights, equality, and freedom from oppression have no correct or wrong time. Given that the people had endured unfair and inhumane treatment for an extended period, peaceful demonstrations were appropriate to draw attention to the critical demands of the underprivileged. Through marches and sit-ins, the privileged become aware of the needs of the people. Strategies such as negotiations proved unproductive since political leaders continually disregarded promises made to the community.

Racial segregation remains an issue of concern in contemporary society. Americans who still subscribe to the ideologies of supremacy over other races practice racism. Racially segregated neighborhoods continue to suffer from the impacts of decades of discrimination. Primary features that define these regions are high levels of poverty, crime, welfare dependency, and gang activity (Johnson Jr 529). Other problems that arise due to discriminative tendencies include limited access to opportunities. Thus, there are high numbers of drop-outs and poor academic performance. A combination of these issues increases the gap between the African American community and other economically and socially advanced communities. Taking into consideration the diverse problems that segregation created justifies the strategies deployed by leaders of the civil rights movement to initiate change in society.


In conclusion, the 20th century marked a significant period in history as the African American community fought to end segregation. The people had endured discrimination orchestrated by the Americans for a long time. African Americans faced inhumane treatment due to the color of their skin. They did not have access to quality and essential facilities and services. Through leaders such as Dr. King, the people sought to address the social issue. They adopted strategies such as peaceful marches to voice their grievances. However, some groups such as religious leaders of the South criticized their methods. Given the adverse effects of ethnic discrimination, the activists were right in using demonstrations to demand change.

Works Cited

Johnson Jr, Odis. "Assessing Neighborhood Racial Segregation and Macroeconomic Effects in the Education of African Americans." Review of Educational Research, vol. 80, no .4, 2010, pp. 527-575.

King Jr, Martin Luther. "Letter from Birmingham Jail." UC Davis Law Rev. 26 (1992): 835.

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