Nelson Mandela once said, “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”(Mandela). Racism is an ongoing issue that has occupied many years of American history. Even with great leaders, such as President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who established a push to end slavery and inspired an entire revolution to eliminate racial discrimination, it seems that a successful eradication of racism is not an option. Today, we still see hate crimes such as the Rodney King case of Los Angeles. Thus, while the Abolishment of Slavery of the late 1800’s and the Civil Rights Movement of the fifties and sixties may have diminished the impact that racism could play out in the open, these efforts have ultimately failed, to a great extent, in actually driving racism and discrimination to extinction because today, this toxic behavior is as prominent as it ever was.
The Abolishment of Slavery underwent progress in an atmosphere of wartime. In 1863, President Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation, issuing “that all persons held as slaves” throughout America “are, and henceforward shall be free” (Lincoln). This instance is the first major push to end discrimination by race. In 1865, however, President Lincoln was assassinated. This was due to the remaining and overwhelming battle of slavery versus freedom. The post-Civil War era brought about the Thirteenth Amendment, which stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,” except if used as punishment for a committed crime, “shall exist within the United States” (Linder and Lincoln). This was the last and final urge to release America from slavery’s shackles.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, America—especially the Confederate states—was still struggling since racist attitudes were still customary. This was because the country as a whole had not arranged an appropriate and effective way to deal with the consequences of freeing the slaves. America experienced a rise in white-supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and witnessed the profound use of Jim Crow laws. These laws were established to create as segregated areas as possible. Each and every aspect of life had a sign acknowledging that their use was specifically for someone of color. At this time, American identities were defined by simply by one’s color; and/or one’s participation in certain beliefs and ideas that were heavily influenced by white supremacy attitudes.
Nearly two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the war, Mark Twain began writing his novel Huckleberry Finn, a novel criticized for having racism in the spotlight. In Huckleberry Finn, honorable and honest slave, Jim, is hindered by the insidious racism of the White society in the South. Within the novel, Twain gives...