“Good Race Relations”: A Road Block For The Civil Rights Movement

706 words - 3 pages

During the Jim Crow Era, racial tension was at an all time high. Many caucasians, along with a small number of African Americans, believed that the tension between whites and Negroes could be abrogated with the practice of “good race relations.” The practice of “good race relations” was a racial harmonization, and a unity among interests of African Americans and their white counterparts. Some believed that this practice would create a society where African Americans and whites could live in a state of tranquility. However, “good race relations” are what would enable African Americans from speaking out against the mistreatment they received during the Jim Crow Era, and keep them in the “Negro’s Place.” Any form of African American protests, voting, or political agitation that would challenge the social hierarchical system of the time was considered practicing “bad race relations.” The most two most successful events in African American history, the Reconstruction Period that followed the abolishment of slavery and the civil rights movement, ignored the practice of “good race relations.” Without the existence of conflict and the ignoring of race relations it would have been very difficult for either to have been a time of eminent success among African Americans.
The argument for “good race relations” is made in Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” speech. Washington’s speech was an attempt to “cement the friendship of the races and bring about hearty cooperation between them” with the practice of “good race relations.” In his speech, Washington blamed the existence of enmity between the two races on his fellow African American people. He asserted that in the awakening of the new era of industrial progress, that followed the abolishing of slavery, African Americans, “ignorant and inexperienced”, tried to start at the top of society rather than the bottom. Booker T. Washington makes the argument that if African Americans accept the “Negro’s place” in society, then the two races could make a great impact on the economy in the south. Washington warned his fellow African Americans that their greatest danger was the the leap from slavery to...

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