Hip Hop And The Civil Rights Movement

2164 words - 9 pages

The Hip Hop movement was born while the Civil Rights movement was aging.
The Civil Rights movement, at its height addressed social inequalities however, in its old
age it began to demand economic equality – enter Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s
Campaign. Although Black Americans were allowed to eat next to White Americans in
restaurants, and were allowed to sit next to White Americans on buses and enjoy equality
in terms of access, white supremacy went underground and manifested as red-lining,
unequal protection under the law, and a greater disparity between once racially
segregated schools that are now economically segregated. The Civil Rights Movement
and the Hip Hop movement are similar, but yet are different. If oppressed individuals
draw upon the strengths and weaknesses of these movements they will produce profound
results socially and economically in the United States and abroad.
It is impossible to separate my voice from this topic, as I was born as an African
American girl in 1984 during a time when Hip Hop could metaphorically be considered
an adolescent. Through conversations with my grandmother, who grew up in segregated
Arkansas, as well as my mother who was a teenager during the turbulent 70’s I have
learned qualitative information about the Civil Rights movement. After much research,
the major concern for Civil Right’s activists was the integration of schools and all public
institutions. Black children had to walk several miles to school – while white students
were provided transportation, Black children were given “hand-me down” textbooks and
supplies and black teachers were provided a fraction of the salary that white teachers
made. After the historic win of Brown v. Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall and his
team of lawyers proved that separate was “inherently” unequal. Years of separation were
being challenged by the law. However 50 years later with Hip Hop being the nucleus of
3
pop culture, we see the remaining attempts at avoiding integration, equal protection of the
law and the hip hop generation remains silent.
Due to “white flight”, the majority of white Americans moved to the suburbs,
while people of color resided and continued to reside in cities. During the early 80’s as a
response to Brown v. Board of Education, magnet schools were created to lure white
America back into the inner city. Culture critic bell hooks says, “a shift in class values
occurs in black life when integration comes and with it the idea that money is the primary
marker of individual success, not how one acquires money” (18). Today, magnet schools
require admissions exams, and are highly selective. These schools receive the majority of
funding and produce the highest standardized test scores, graduation rates and college
admitted students. Moreover, during the Civil Rights movement individuals of a different
class resided within the same neighborhood and this created a mixture of classes
providing a...

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