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Whether or not the civil rights movement has achieved equal rights for black people in USA and if so, to what extent.

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Introduction

In this essay, I will aim to establish whether or not the civil rights movement has achieved equal rights for black people in USA and if so, to what extent. In order to do this, we must compare the situation for blacks in USA currently, to that of blacks many years ago. Absolutely no one would even try to argue that Black Americans had equal rights during, or even directly after the abolition of slavery. This would be ridiculous bearing in mind that many were forced to work from sunrise to sunset, an eighteen hour day in some places, with few, if any rights at all. At one point, slave owners were even given specific rights to brand, maim, whip or even burn disobedient slaves. This hardly indicates any sort of equal rights. They were unable to vote, serve on juries receive an education and work in certain trades. The fact that they were unable to serve on juries almost made certain that any black man could be tried and convicted even though totally innocent. Also, no voting meant no black politicians, and no politicians meant no say in government. There were a few lucky blacks living in the south who had managed to obtain freedom, some by purchasing their liberties and others handed their freedom after their masters had passed away. However, these blacks were constantly living in the fear that they could once again be taken into slavery. ...read more.

Middle

One hundred years on, to what extent have civil rights been achieved for blacks? On visiting America now, and comparing life to that of a hundred years ago, the most apparent difference is desegregation. Whereas blacks and whites were forced to attend separate schools, take part in leisure activities seperately, use separate transport and forced to be segregated in the supreme court, there is now no lawful segregation in the USA. Blacks have been given equal rights as far as voting goes and it has been this way for many years now. However, this did not mean that all Blacks were suddenly voting. There was still the problem of persuading blacks to register although, this has now been rectified with very public registration campaigns. The result has been a huge increase in the proportion of blacks registered to vote. There have been monumental chnages in attitudes towards blacks which has meant the uprising of many black celebrities which would have been unthinkable until recent years. A prime example of this could be that of black boxer, Mohammed Ali. His refusal to participate in the Vietnam War because of his personal beliefs, and being prepared to go to jail rather than back down, earnt him world wide respect. This went along with the respect that he had already gained from his doubtless talent in the ring. To this day, Ali is one of the most highly respected sportsmen throughout the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

Consequently, there was a second trial, in which two officers were again acquitted and the other two received minimum jail terms. There were fears of a second round of rioting which never materialised. Other such incidents include an African refugee being shot 24 times by police officers. To this day, there are still more blacks than whites on death row, which again leads to calls of discrimination by the police force and law courts. Earlier, I spoke about black successes in politics, pointing to Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell as examples. However, there has still been no black president, and it still does not even seem like a possibility in the foreseeable future. Even, with the prominence of Jackson and Powell, it can still be said that there is an exclusion of blacks in politics. The poverty trap of many years earlier also still exists in many parts of America, where the idea that if a black person was forced to live in a ghetto due to poor wages, there was really no way out and achieving something for their children as opportunities and resources were greatly limited. In conclusion, I think it is obviously clear that change has been achieved and progress has been made as far as civil rights are concerned and there will always be isolated incidents, which suggest otherwise. A great distance has been traveled on the road to achieving equal rights and hopefully, the last few miles will also be covered in the near future. By Amandeep Bindra 11J ...read more.

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