Let Freedom Ring Essay

3138 words - 13 pages

Let Freedom Ring

The Civil Rights Movement was the catalyst, the march that ignited the flame of justice in the twentieth century. It coerced America as a nation to reevaluate itself, to reevaluate what it stood for....

We hold these truths to be self-evident…
Hot, black coffee trickled down the dark skin on Henry Moses’ back.
…that all men are created equal…
“Get out of here, nigger! Go back to your kind!” an angry White man shouted as he continued pouring.
…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…
Moses sat silently, keeping his seat at the lunch counter in downtown Jackson.
…that among these are life…
Lunch counter stools were for White folks only. It had always been that way. Moses, just 21, knew that.
“It was just a part of their heritage,” he says now. “They thought that Negroes were filthy… scum. Just somebody you don’t associate with. You don’t wait on ‘em, you don’t cut ‘em no slack whatsoever. This is just the way that they had been taught, the way they had been trained.”
…and the pursuit of happiness.
“And we were trying to change it” (“First in News”).

Since the discovery of the new world by Europeans, Blacks--with the exception of the Native American Indians--have suffered immensely more than any other group in America. From the time the first African slaves stepped on American soil, their destiny changed forever. For over four hundred years, Blacks worked on fields and in homes of their White masters with no concept of civil rights in their daily lives. It was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery, that civil rights and freedom became a possibility for millions of African-Americans. Soon the struggle to attain all their civil rights began as Blacks fought for “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” that had been promised when our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears of a different drummer”---Henry David Thoreau.

Between 1865 to 1890, the period known as the Reconstruction Era, Blacks gained more rights, with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment expanding the guarantees of federally protected citizenship rights, and the Fifteenth Amendment barring voting restrictions based on race (Sullivan). For a brief period, Black power and Black culture flourished. Former slaves took part in civic and political life throughout the South. African Americans served in offices at all levels of government, from local to state legislatures and the United States Congress. There was even a system of universal free public education. Although there were Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante groups who protested the progress of Blacks by means of governmental fraud and violence, Blacks continued to hold offices and vote for representatives in their communities (Sullivan). Not until...

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