The racial injustice occurring today in the U.S. has roots that date back hundreds of years. The first slaves were brought to the state of Virginia in 1619 from Africa. As a result of the Civil War, in 1865 slaves were abolished, but this didn’t mean that they were included in the white community. The thirteenth amendment made slavery illegal, the fourteenth amendment made any person born in or naturalized in the US a citizen, and the fifteenth amendment restricted governments from denying a person the right to vote based on race, color, or past servitude. Therefore the history of racial injustice in the U.S. is the topic for this essay.
In December 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat, reserved for whites, and was arrested right after. This led to a major bus boycott which lasted until November 1956, after the Supreme Court desegregated buses. Four black students started the use of sit-ins, where they sat at a counter, reserved for white people and refused to move. This began in Greensboro, North Carolina, and they then formed a group called the “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” in order to control their “movement”. The Congress of Racial Equality, also known as CORE sponsored the first group of Freedom Rides, in 1961, who’s goal was to desegregate bus terminals.
The Southern Leader Christian Leadership, or S.C.L.C., joined forces with Birmingham, Alabama launching a campaign which displayed confrontations between nonviolent protesters and the usually violent police force directed by police commissioner Eugene T. (“Bull”) Connor. This managed to increase support from the North and a federal intervention for a settlement with a “civil rights concessions”.
In Birmingham numerous marches led to President John F. Kennedy introducing a legislation which turned into the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The goal of it was to end discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin by ensuring equal voting rights, forbidding segregation in public places involved in interstate commerce, schools and trade unions.
Mass protests raised awareness about the “antiquated Jim Crow system” for White Americans. This all piled up to result in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 made up of over 200,000 participants. Martin Luther King delivered his world-famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The mass protests in Selma and Montgomery led to President Lyndon B. Johnson introducing a legislation that would later become the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This banned the use of literacy tests. There was a high rate of illiteracy in the black community because of poverty and persecution, so blacks were forced to take a literacy test and pass in order to vote.
By that point the nonviolent movement started to lose popularity and wasn’t as effective. Black activists’ militancy increased, inspired by Malcolm X, who had been recently assassinated. Malcolm X urged African Americans to “defend themselves by any means necessary”, and was often critical of MLK’s nonviolent strategies.
The new militant group “The Black Panther Party” was a challenge to non violent organizations. Leaders believed that the issues that were being addressed weren’t enough because poor and powerless blacks’ issues weren’t being addressed. They urged blacks to carry a gun on them at all time, not to just shoot up a white community, but for self defense. The US was headed “toward two societies one black, one white - separate and unequal.”
Many problems still occur in today’s society between the white and black community. One example is police brutality. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police, but only 79% of the black victims are armed whereas 86% of white victims were armed. Armed is defined by holding a weapon or object when killed. 99% of the cases resulted in officers not being convicted of the crime.
Wage gap is another issue very prominent in our society, not only the fact that there is a wage gap between blacks and whites, but that it continues to increase over time. In 1979 blacks received $16.07 an hour and whites received $19.62 an hour, making the wage gap 18.1%. In 2015, not even 40 years later, blacks receive $18.49 an hour and whites receive $25.22 making the wage gap 26.7%, meaning it increased by over 8%.
In addition to this, the unemployment rate for blacks than whites. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the black unemployment rate was 6.5% and the white unemployment rate was 3.1%. The highest black unemployment rate is 11.8% in the District of Columbia whereas the highest white unemployment rate is 4.6% in West Virginia.
Sentences blacks receive are 10% longer than the ones whites receive for the same crime, and they are incarcerated at six times the rate of white males. In federal prison the average sentence was 55 months for whites composer to 90 months for blacks in 2008 and 2009.
In grade school only 57% of black student had the possibility to take math and science courses needed for college but 71% of white students had access to this. Black student often go to schools with teachers that are less qualified and slash or have low wages. Black students often end up missing more school due to behavioral issues, which weakens their education. They are 3.8% more likely to receive a suspension than white students.
One third of black students with a GPA 3.5 or higher end up in community college, compared to only a fifth of white students ending up the same way with the same GPA. 56% of white students go into debt from education versus 72% of black students having debt. There are almost double the amount of white people above 25 with a bachelor degree than black. 65.2% of private scholarship funding was given to whites and blacks only received 11.9%.