In the mid ninetieth to the twentieth century, there was institutionalized racism oppressing the African American despite ending of slavery. By the mid-twentieth century, the blacks were still facing seclusion from the whites who were considered the superior ones. They would use separate public utilities like schools from those reserved for the whites. Overall, race replaced class in the United States as the dividing line between those who could use certain institution and those who could not. However, through the help of the civil rights movements, the American democracy succeed in achieving racial justice.
In the crucible of Reconstruction and Civil war, the abolitionist of the principle of equal protection of the law with no regard to race was written into the constitution. However, they failed to secure black equality and freedom. The laws and amendments remained on the books and were not implemented. Inequality continued, like in the in the Dred Scott v. Sand ford (1857) case, Chief Justice Taney decided that the Negro separation continues simply because they were not democratically United States Citizens. Lincoln describes democracy as the government of the people, by them and for them. According to the decision, they had no democratic right to demand any entitlement to anything because they didnt constitute the people (McNeese 14) of America. Historically, the legislation meant that the imported slaves or their descendants whether free or not were a part of the American people. This ruling was racist in the sense that it still considered the black Americans as slaves and inferior and are not part of the people of America. Therefore, the American democracy did not owe them any rights and privileges including equality in education facilities.
Additionally, later in 1896, the rule of law through the supreme court in the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling constitutionalized the separate but equal racial segregation (Thomas 8). This landmark upholding made the civil right movements and their social and legal status reached a nadir. They were devastated since it meant continued inequality. Through the end of the nineteenth century towards the start of the twentieth century, the segregation was improved and maintained following this ruling. Thus, the American legal system yet again failed to achieve racial equality.
However, the equality issue was awakened by the Freedom movements. They fought for these laws and customs to be reviewed in order to secure the equality of all Americans. They won some victories that were really significant among them being the 1954 notable Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. The case tested the segregation that was being practiced in regards to school facilities in Kansas and Topeka. It concluded that in the public education field, the doctrine of Separate but equal (Patterson 20) has no place. It stated that the previous rulings including the Plessy v. Ferguson were rejected because they were inherently exercising inequality in the education sector. But, this victory could not dismantle the racism that was deeply rooted in the countries institution. The country was plagued with racism not even a rule of the law would finish it. It was in the light of this inequality and the need to see the possibility of equality of the blacks that Martin Luther King. Jr joined the civil right fight for black Americans.
In conclusion, although the civil rights movements tried to end racial inequality and secure freedom among US institutions, they were still discriminated and treated as if they were not part of the people of the United States. Therefore, the American democracy failed in achieving racial justice.
McNeese, Tim. Dred Scott V. Sandford: The Pursuit of Freedom. Chelsea House, 2007.
Patterson, James T. Brown V. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. Oxford UP, 2001.
Thomas, Brook. Plessy V. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford Books, 1997.
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