During the 1600s, slavery was a concept that was strongly founded in the American nation. However, slavery was not a new concept globally during this period. Slavery as defined by Littel (2006) is the act of holding someone in bondage or a contract for labor.
Slavery had many forms in history. In some societies, slaves were domestic helpers in elite households. Some of these slaves worked at mines and fields. People back then were enslaved when they were caught in the midst of battle or sold to pay their debts. Some of these helps or slaves were treated with respect. Some slaves, on the other hand, were permitted to marry and own a property. The children for this matter were then allowed to go free.
The issue of slavery however changed during the popular rise of sugar plantations. Europeans used people as slaves to grow sugar in the Mediterranean section of Europe starting from the 1100s. Then during the 1400 and also the 1500s, Portugal and Spain produced sugar plantations and to carry on with the production, they used African slaves. The use of slaves however did not only happen on the European continent. The slave trade began and greatly impacted America.
Once these Africans arrived in groups, they were sold through auctions and some were taken into big homes where they could work as servants. Most of the slaves were forced to do a difficult work in haciendas or mines. They were housed and fed poorly. Numerous slaves resisted slavery by running away or sometimes rebelled. Over time, the Europeans eventually came to associate slavery with Africans and dark skin became a symbol for inferiority. The act of slavery the developed to provide a labor force and then led to racism. Racism according to Littel (2006), is the belief or conception that some groups are weak because of their race. The slave trade lasted for hundreds of years from the 1500s to the mid-1800s. During this period also marked the trade of slaves from Europe to the Americas that was part of the Columbian exchange. Africans that were brought to the Americas carried with them a great knowledge about animals and farming. During the same time, American crops such as peanuts, chillis and sweet potatoes eventually made their way to Africa.
Enslaved Africans then brought with them strong artistic line of music, storytelling and dance. The slave trade connected together people from different parts of Africa with different cultural traditions. The premise of slavery helped create a general African-based culture in the country. During the 1700s, all the colonies in the Americas of European countries had African slaves. As this slavery evolved, an enduring story about the weakness of black people was created to legitimize, defend and continue the idea of slavery. This “mythology” endured its victory until its formal abolishment for the Civil War.
In the South, where enslavement of black people was widely accepted, the resistance to the idea of ending slavery continued for another century after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. At present, after 150 years after the proclaiming the emancipation, little has been done to answer the legacy of slavery and its impact in today’s modern life.
Dating back to January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln, gave the Emancipation Proclamation. The document sparked a little of hope in slaves in the South. However, a number of Union soldiers resigned rather than participate actively in an activity to free slaves. The said proclamation only freed slaves in Confederacy that of which is an area where the president had no more control. Six months following the surrender of the confederacy, in the year 1865, the abolition became a law when the Thirteenth Amendment of the constitution was abolished throughout the country.
Reconstruction then ended as part of the promise in the elections of 1876. Following this affair, Segregation fully invaded the South. There grew a great influence of the Jim Crow reign all over the South. The term Jim Crow traces its origins back to the 1890s where it was synonymous to segregation and was referred to the policies that kept the segregation alive. The ‘real’ segregation often exceeded those mandated by the Jim Crows and often went beyond their provisions when put into practice. This law on segregation gave the Whites its ultimate power (Schaefer, 2012).
The Jim Crow did not remain unopposed for long. Following the long reign of the Jim Crow, the Plessy vs. Ferguson case occurred (Vox, 2014). More and more activists emerged and endangered their lives to show the people the graveness of the segregation. Because of the events happening during those times, the federal government and the president could no longer give a blind eye towards the cases of segregation (Vox, 2014).
The civil rights act of 1964 is evidently the most impacted civil rights law made even in today’s times. The legislation served as an archetypal law for the following laws against racial discrimination. This legislation greatly widened the people’s protections covering different settings. It happened through the labors and pains of President John F. Kennedy. During his speech in June 11, 1963, Kennedy revealed plans of making an itemized law for human rights. After his assassination, Lyndon Johnson, sat to presidency and then began the way to create the civil rights law. Johnson did what he needed to do politically to stop the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
Despite the fact that Johnson was from the South, he understood the country’s needs for the Civil Rights Act that could promote the development of the African American race in the country. He used to his benefit the shock left by Kennedy’s death in order to seek for approval of the forthcoming major Civil Rights Law or the 1964. Johson states that it is due to Kennedy’s life to continue the law; but, the law itself then faced strong pains from the Congress to wane the law. In order to validate the means of the legislation, Johnson created an argument for the members of the South in congress. He stated that this law will not let any person use it as a maneuver to progress to comfortable life. He says that this is with no regard to age, color, sex or race.
Oddly, African-American communities were somewhat vocal in evaluating the mentioned law. There showed clusters of riot in the north eastern cities that happened frequently. This activism happened because of the ideals of most African Americans that says that the law did not go forth for distant areas. Johnson, who was the current president during that time, was discouraged because of the lack of backing shown by the African American groups.
Although there emerged different protests, Martin Luther King believes that the law was a legislation that could bring comfort to the Black communities found in the Southern part of the United States. The legislation could also bring the Negros from the North a kind of ‘peace of mind’ something that he also needs.
At present, this act is seen as a breakthrough in the attempts to bring equality to the lives of the African American citizens of the United States not to mention to other minority groups as well. The act is flawed and it does not dream of solving all problems of discriminations. It is however, an act that paved the way for alleviating inequality among the masses.
Jim Crow law. (2014). In Britannica Encyclopedia. Mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu,. (2014). Civil Rights Act of 1964. Retrieved 2 September 2014, from http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_civil_rights_act_of_1964/
McDougal Littell. (2006). Creating America: A history of the United States : beginnings through World War I. Evanston, IL: Author.
Schaefer, R. T. (2012). Racial and ethnic groups (13th ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.
Vox, L. (2014). What Was the Impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?. About. Retrieved 2 September 2014, from http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/civilrightsstruggle1/a/CivilRightAct1964.htm