Assess the Significance of the Role of Individuals in Reducing Racial Discrimination in the Period 1877-1981

1224 Words Apr 12th, 2013 5 Pages
Assess the significance of the role of individuals in reducing racial discrimination in the period 1877-1981.

The post-civil war era of American history could be argued as one with great promise for African Americans. With the North winning the Civil War and Lincoln granting the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, surely the seeds had been sown for equality for all in America; blacks and whites included? Despite the foundations having been laid for equality, it may not be surprising that only small progress was made when Lincoln- the “saviour” of Blacks- had little interest in abolishing slavery in the first place; “if I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it”.

However, it cannot be disputed that, whatever his
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The process of increased black nationalism is certainly one which cannot be overlooked; indeed it may not have achieved solid changes in law, and some go as far to say that it may have even hindered the advancement of Black Civil Rights. Despite this one could argue that the development of black nationalism catalysed the civil rights movement for many African Americans; installing a sense of pride inside the hearts of many which was drastically needed at the time.

Before trying to pin any credible progress on the black nationalism movement it is first important to attempt to define 'Black Nationalism'. A simple definition of it would be that it was an ideology which stresses the desire for separatism of the black race; “unity as a people, pride in African heritage, the creation of autonomous institutions and the search for a territory to build a nation” (Cone, 1991, 122). However the ideology of black nationalists varies greatly between individuals; a perfect example of this is Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The two vary drastically between their methods in raising black nationalism. The methods and effectiveness of Malcolm X's campaign for the improved lives of black Americans are up for questioning by many. Indeed his tactics were more radicalised than his non-violent counterpart Dr King: Malcolm X even stated in Washington, 1964 that “I'm here to remind the white man of the alternative to Dr King”.

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