The Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement refers to great worldwide civil strife of 1950’s to 1980’s. The movement was primarily an agitation for better political representation and racial equity between different races across several countries in the world. The civil unrest had resulted from historical injustice committed by government against some races and classes of peoples. The oppressed population sought to engage the national or local government for the resolution of the problems that affected them. The resistances took many forms ranging from peaceful demonstration, nonviolent protests to ugly scenes of direct confrontation with the administration through civil unrest and armed rebellions. Not all the uprising led to achievement of the intended course but led improvement of the rights of the oppressed populations. The civil rights movement varied from one nation to another and the fight was grounded on different agenda that needed to be addressed (Sugrue, 2010). This research paper looks at various Civil Rights Movements that took place between 1950’s to 1980’s and the genesis of all the uprisings.
African American civil rights movement (1955-1968)
After the end of the reconstruction era in late 1870’s, there were radical attempts by the white administration in South of America that led to the segregation of the African-American in the south. The era was characterized by racial segregation and disfranchisement whereby the blacks were barred from being registered as voters hence denying them the opportunity to elect their own representatives. There were economic exploitations and oppression of the black and other minor races in the south of United States of America (Cozzens, 1998).
It is due to the above reasons that led to the black and other minor group to reject the regime that resulted to the general fight for their freedom, rights and equality in the south. Several measures were put in place by the oppressed group to bring to an end of their suffering under the white regime. These led to the formation various group that resorted to litigation, education and lobbying approaches to make their demands to be addressed. This strategy was pursued by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that was formed in 1909. The NAACP greatest victory was struck in 1954 when the Supreme Court rejected the separate white and colored education system in the Case Brown v. Board of Education (Patterson & James 2002).
Mass action later replaced litigation and education when the government was at slow at implementing the court decision. The oppressed engaged in direct action through marches, sit-ins, freedom rides boycotts and nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. Community organizations, churches and black-owned business organized these events by mobilizing volunteers. Martin Luther led Montgomery Improvement Association that successfully led to a major boycott of Montgomery bus hence court ruling that ordered the Montgomery to desegregate its buses. Dr. Martin Luther King later worked together with church leaders and other leaders, and they formed a formidable organization known as Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLS) that was charged with responsibility of offering training and leadership assistance to locals aimed at fighting segregation (Patterson & James 2002).
In March 1963, Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King staged a radical Washington march that resulted in President F. Kennedy to address five issues. The issues were: Decent housing for all, meaningful civil rights laws, nondiscriminatory employment, right to vote and integrated education for all. In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that had been passed by the Congress into Law thus banning discrimination. The bill also addressed employment and housing issues (William, 1980).
With the passing of the crucial Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965, basic civil rights for all Americans were guaranteed. This did not come just easy but through decades of struggle by the oppressed races mostly in the South of United States. So many Civil Rights activists were tortured, molested, assassinated and imprisoned. During the period of civil rights movement, several people achieved prominence. The black race started enjoying the rights and freedom that their ancestors had hoped for decades (McAdam, 1988).
The Northern Ireland Civil rights Movement
This quest for civil rights in Northern Ireland took place during late 1960s and early 1970. The struggle was by the minority Roman Catholics who were suffering from discrimination of the unionist protestant government. The campaigns had a purpose of lobbying for fair electoral procedures, job and housing rights and end of what was perceived sectarian rule that was being perpetuated by the unionist government (Patterson & James 2002).
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was formed as a platform for championing the campaigns for civil rights the minority Catholics. The movement adopted almost similar strategies as those that were used by the Civil Rights Movements in the United States of America. The Association drew a clear roadmap for letting the demands of the minority Catholics in Northern Ireland be addressed. The protests elicited riots by students and other groups when the marches were banned, and the police injured protesters who had defied the ban and went on with the marches. These events led to the formation of more radical civil rights group known as People’s Democracy (Patterson & James 2002).
Several people died, many were injured and mass exodus of Catholics who were driven out of their homes due to the riots in Derry. The British government intervened bay backing up the Northern Ireland Police by introducing internment where many of the civil rights activists were jailed. Despite all these, NICRA continued to organized marches in protest against internment. In early 1972, the British troops shot dead 14 demonstrators during the march. Given the fact that during this time there were endless civil unrest among the minorities and marginalized groups or races across the world that were fighting for their rights and social justice, NICRA secured much international and internal support which led to guaranteeing of the minority rights (Patterson & James 2002).
Independence movements in Africa
Africa was not also left behind in the struggle for its own independence. The fight for civil rights in Africa was different from the other civil rights movements by virtue that Africans were trying to repossess back their land and freedom that were taken away from them by the people who they considered as strangers and foreign. The European powers had taken over land and key natural resources from African and further subjected them to hard labor. The African were fighting to take back what they believed to be theirs (William, 1980).
The fight for fundamental rights and freedom in Africa varied. The earliest fight for freedom and civil rights began in early 1920, in North Africa. Tunisia revolted against the French rule who were demanding national sovereignty from the French administration. This lead to imprisonment of the Neo Destour party leader in France. This triggered the formation the Arab League that encouraged the fight for sovereignty in North African nations. Guerrilla warfare that begun in Tunisia in 1952 triggered the war against the French in Algeria in 1954 and a revolt in Morocco in 1955. This culminated to Tunisia and Morocco being granted independence in 1956 and Algeria achieved self-rule from France in 1962 (William, 1980).
In the sub-Saharan region, nations continued to agitate for independence from the whites from Europe. In Kenya, Mau Mau movement was formed with the major agenda of reclaiming the fertile land taken by the white settlers, to fight for rights and freedom for the natives and fight against forced labor in the countries. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and six other freedom fighters were imprisoned for 8 years for their continued pursuance of independence in Kenya. Kenya was finally declared independent in1963 after Kenyatta was released from prison in 1958 (William, 1980).
Several nations were declared independent by their colonizers hence sparking a wave of self-rule in Africa due to rampant struggle for independence across all African nations. Africa was being liberated from colonial powers that majorly sourced for raw material and valuable minerals from the continent for European industries. By 1960, seventeen nations were declared independent and more followed thereafter (William, 1980).
However, South Africa remained under minority rule of the white race till 1994 when they gained independence. The black liberation movement, spearheaded by Nelson Mandela, fought against apartheid in South Africa that was being propagated by the white-dominated administration. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for being at the fore front in the fight against apartheid in South Africa (Sugrue, 2010).
Though Africa finally managed to free itself from European colonialism, there was unprecedented civil unrest in several countries across Africa. Many countries in Africa have witnessed civil strife against the national government that turned out to deny the citizen the rights and freedoms that they fought for before independence and the dictatorial nature of leadership (Sugrue, 2010).
Canada quiet revolution
The revolution happened in Quebec province, Canada that was sought majorly by French speaking natives who believed that the province was left behind in terms of development despite the fact other provinces had registered drastic economic and educational progress. The issues that were addressed during the Canada quiet revolution included education secularization and economic reforms. The education of French speaking natives of the province before the revolution was being jeopardized by the inflexible education system that was mostly operated by the Catholic Church. The percentage of the number of the French speaking Canadian students achieving formal schooling level was far below the number of English speaking Canadian students. Economically, Quebec residents were angered by the fact that their province was well endowed with vast natural resources, yet the developers were mainly foreigners. The foreign companies paid the worker poorly making many of the workers to go on strike on demand for better pay terms. Furthermore, the natives could only hold small portfolio jobs leaving the executive jobs to the foreigners. The residents blamed the administration for their miseries and also the Catholic Church was not left out because it was believed it supported the provincial government and the foreign exploitative investors (Sugrue, 2010).
The quiet revolution earnestly brought substantial reform in the province that guaranteed prosperity and bright future of the natives. It all began when Jean Lesage was elected as Premier after the demise of Maurice Duplessis who had been blamed for entrenching corruption in the government cycles and condoning electoral fraud. The Catholic Church was also perceived by the general population as being in support of the governance. The new provincial government made radical changes in education, and healthcare sectors which were mainly handled by the Catholic Church. Massive reforms were undertaken by the Health and Education ministries that markedly streamlined the sectors. Economic reforms were achieved when the government took the initiative to invest more in provincial infrastructure and gave the civil service more autonomy. The greatest political milestone in development marked the beginning and total change in development of the Quebec province that is still benefiting from the quiet revolution to date (William, 1980).
The civil rights eras formed significant stepping stone for subsequent human rights campaign platforms in the world. From the few cases of civil rights fights discussed in the paper, we can see that there is no single human right can be guaranteed by nation, government or region without due agitation from the public. The past civil right struggles and fights resulted in legislative reforms and law enactments that changed the life of many people. Most of the freedoms that are being enjoyed todays in almost all nations across the globe are as a result of past hard fought for civil rights and freedom.
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