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Category: Matthew Smith

Racism and discrimination

Introduction

Parade of KKK members through Virginia Counties, in 1922

Parade of KKK members through Virginia Counties, in 1922

This project examines racial discrimination in the United States from the late 1800’s to present day. My project will have a focus on the Civil Rights Movement and the brave people considered leaders of it.

Throughout history, nonwhites have always faced discrimination from the hands of whites. After slavery was abolished in 1865 and southern blacks were made free, the whites have always found a way to keep them lower than the whites. One of the most famous ways this was done can be seen in the rise of the KKK in the south(Parsons 2015). However, the main occurrence of discrimination at the expense of blacks were the Jim Crow laws that kept them segregated from the whites. Passed during and shortly after the Reconstruction era, these laws made it illegal for blacks to practically exist in the same space as whites, forcing them to have their own churches, schools, even things as little as water fountains needed to be built for blacks only. Along with the Jim Crow laws, the black community also faced discrimination at the polls, being forced through arbitrary hoops in order to vote, if they were able to pass these tests at all(Faulkenbury 2018). With these unreasonable laws and unfair treatment of blacks, eventually leaders arose who were fed up with the unequal treatment and were not afraid of letting their voices be heard. These leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, pushed for the black community to band together and reject the racial discrimination. This led to King’s demonstrations, most famously his marches from Selma to Montgomery(Ling 2015). These marches were met with violence from the whites, but the blacks never fought back. The Selma march demonstration coincided with a stressful time during the Cold War, making president Johnson, along with other officials, afraid of backlash overseas critiquing the state of their own democracy. Because of this, Johnson passed the Voting rights act of 1965, assuring all blacks had the ability to vote. Along with this act, in 1964 president Johnson also passed a introduced a bill to congress, that was first presented by President Kennedy before his assassination, that would abolish segregation of the races. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an important step in the right direction, but unfortunately just because blacks had legislation on their side does not mean whites agreed with it..

Along with the unequal treatment of blacks in history, immigrants have also faced harsh times at the hands of whites. During the mid 1800’s during Ireland’s potato famine many families immigrated to America. During the Irish immigration many employers discriminated against the fresh immigrants by not accepting any of their job applications. For the few that did manage to find work, they were most likely unable to find housing as the home owners also did not wish to rent to the Irish immigrants. Moving past the Irish, shortly after the Japanese bombing on Pearl Harbor, the American government forced Japanese-American citizens into internment camps to prevent any sympathisers from acting out against the United States. Placing the Japanese into internment camps went against the actions they were fighting against in Germany, and was highly hypocritical.

This project will define the hardships that blacks and immigrants in the distant, and not so distant past have had to endure. My project will have a focus on the leaders that arose during these hard times to lead the black community to a better life than they had currently at that time. As my project will deal with the KKK and their discrimination against blacks, my project will start when they first emerged around 1865, shortly after slavery was abolished by President Lincoln. Where as racial discrimination has come back into the spotlight with the most recent election, I will finish my project with an examination of that.

Starting with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, this project will provide examples based on the continued discrimination of anybody except the whiteman, and how the discriminated parties eventually grew strong enough to resist. A strong example of this is seen in comparing early KKK sources which show extreme violence towards blacks and evokes a fearful image to mid 1900’s Civil Rights movement protests, where blacks no longer fear violence towards them and are willing to do anything to accomplish their freedom(Riches 2004).

Immigrant Discrimination

  • The song No Irish need Apply provides a humorous take at the discrimination against Irishmen during the mid 1800s. The source tells about how during the influx of Irish immigration, many employers and renters discriminated against the immigrants, providing them with a much harder time in the United States. Employers would hang signs in their windows stating that “No Irish need apply”, while home renters would not allow the Irish to rent homes in certain neighborhoods. I included this source  as it shows how discrimination was at one point taken lightly, and made humorous by white Americans. I think it is important to see how pieces of media used to portray racism and discrimination, so we can compare that to how it is portrayed in our media now.
I'm a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad; 
I want a situation: yis, I want it mighty bad. 
I saw a place advartised. It's the thing for me, says I; 
But the dirty spalpeen ended with: No Irish need apply. 
Whoo! says I; but that's an insult -- though to get the place I'll try. 
So, I wint to see the blaggar with: No Irish need apply. 

I started off to find the house, I got it mighty soon; 
There I found the ould chap saited: he was reading the TRIBUNE. 
I tould him what I came for, whin he in a rage did fly: 
No! says he, you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply! 
Thin I felt my dandher rising, and I'd like to black his eye--
To tell an Irish Gintleman: No Irish need apply! 

I couldn't stand it longer: so, a hoult of him I took, 
And I gave him such a welting as he'd get at Donnybrook. 
He hollered: Millia murther! and to get away did try, 
And swore he'd never write again: No Irish need apply. 
He made a big apology; I bid him thin good-bye, 
Saying: Whin next you want a bating, add: No Irish need apply! 

Sure, I've heard that in America it always is the plan 
That an Irishman is just as good as any other man; 
A home and hospitality they never will deny 
The stranger here, or ever say: No Irish need apply. 
But some black sheep are in the flock: a dirty lot, say I; 
A dacint man will never write: No Irish need apply! 

Sure, Paddy's heart is in his hand, as all the world does know, 
His praties and his whiskey he will share with friend or foe; 
His door is always open to the stranger passing by; 
He never thinks of saying: None but Irish may apply. 
And, in Columbia's history, his name is ranking high; 
Thin, the Divil take the knaves that write: No Irish need apply! 

Ould Ireland on the battle-field a lasting fame has made; 
We all have heard of Meagher's men, and Corcoran's brigade.* 
Though fools may flout and bigots rave, and fanatics may cry, 
Yet when they want good fighting-men, the Irish may apply, 
And when for freedom and the right they raise the battle-cry, 
Then the Rebel ranks begin to think: No Irish need apply

John F. Poole, No Irish need apply. H. De Marsan, 54 Chatham Street, New-York. Monographic.
Online Text. https://www.loc.gov/item/amss.as109730/.
  • The photos captured by Ansel Adams of the Japanese internment camps showcases how white Americans react to people of other ethnicities when scared. When Americans are scared, a big portion of people have no problem singling out a certain group of people and segregating them to provide peace of mind to whites. The Japanese-Americans had no choice in this separation of races. This source was created to bring attention to the humanity of the Japanese-Americans, it was an attempt to show the general public that the large population of people being discriminated against due to their race was, in fact, human. This source is important as it shows racism towards a group other than blacks, which is not seen regularly, and shows that racism was still prevalent in the mid 1900’s.

Adams, Ansel. Science Lecture, Manzanar Relocation Center. 1943. Ansel Adams’s Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs, Library of Congress, Manzanar, CA.classroom of Japanese boys learn about chemistry

Black Discrimination & the Civil Rights Movement

  • In this source, we are greeted with a death threat to the Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. The threat, written by a Ku Klux Klan member, writes about how he is displeased with Sumner’s proposition of an equal rights bill, and that if passed, will kill Sumner.  The letter was made as an attempt to scare off Sumner, but failed in doing so, as the bill passed later with his support, although it was hardly enforced and eventually deemed unconstitutional a few years later. The most interesting part of the source is that fact that the KKK member threatens a white man of a higher power. This source is important as it shows that racists in the late 1800s America have no fears when it comes to doing what they feel they must to keep slavery in place. This piece’s value comes from showing the lengths the KKK were willing to go. Like today, politicians still had to deal with threats over their policies over a century ago.

Unknown Ku Klux Klan member. Death threat from Ku Klux Klan to Charles Sumner. Letter. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.Charles Sumner related items. http://www.americanhistory.amdigital.co.uk/Documents/Details/Death-threat-from-Ku-Klux-Klan-to-Charles-Sumner/GLC07202.03

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • At the beginning of World War 2, President Roosevelt signed executive order8802 which prevented discrimination based on skin color and ethnic origin in the United States defense force. This came about when Roosevelt was pressured to end discrimination in the defense force by a black labor leader by the name of A. Philip Randolph. Randolph threatened to organize a march on washington comprised of thousands of blacks, which would have been a national embarrassment to the president. While the order did pass, it did not prevent discrimination in all fields of work. The executive order did set a precedent in the times to come when referring to discrimination in the workforce. This source is important as it shows the beginning of the abolishment of discrimination in the workforce towards minorities.

WHEREAS it is the policy of the United States to encourage full participation in the national defense program by all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, in the firm belief that the democratic way of life within the Nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups within its borders; and

WHEREAS there is evidence that available and needed workers have been barred from employment in industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color, or national origin, to the detriment of workers’ morale and of national unity:

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes, and as a prerequisite to the successful conduct of our national defense production effort, I do hereby reaffirm the policy of the United States that there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin, and I do hereby declare that it is the duty of employers and of labor organizations, in furtherance of said policy and of this order, to provide for the full and equitable participation of all workers in defense industries, without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin;

And it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. All departments and agencies of the Government of the United States concerned with vocational and training programs for defense production shall take special measures appropriate to assure that such programs are administered without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin;

2. All contracting agencies of the Government of the United States shall include in all defense contracts hereafter negotiated by them a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because of race, creed, color, or national origin;

3. There is established in the Office of Production Management a Committee on Fair Employment Practice, which shall consist of a chairman and four other members to be appointed by the President. The Chairman and members of the Committee shall serve as such without compensation but shall be entitled to actual and necessary transportation, subsistence and other expenses incidental to performance of their duties. The Committee shall receive and investigate complaints of discrimination in violation of the provisions of this order and shall take appropriate steps to redress grievances which it finds to be valid. The Committee shall also recommend to the several departments and agencies of the Government of the United States and to the President all measures which may be deemed by it necessary or proper to effectuate the provisions of this order.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
The White House,
June 25, 1941.

Exec. Order No. 8802, 3 C.F.R. (1941)

  • In this video of Malcolm X’s speech, X talks to members of the black community on their appearance, inside and out, and who taught them to hate it. He asks why they attempt to distance themselves from their culture to make the white man tolerate them more, and tells them that they should not be ashamed of who they are. He calls for the black community to band together to fight against the common enemy that is the white man. This source is important as it shows the same common beliefs of MLK, but X goes about a completely different way in telling people to rise against the enemy and fight back. This source also reveals why a decent amount of whites felt uneasy against the blacks, as they felt aggression from them.


Malcolm X. “Malcolm X’s Fiery Speech Addressing Police Brutality” Smithsonian Channel, 2:48. 1962.

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Black Panther Party originated as a group of black citizens who would keep watch over the police in their neighborhood in an attempt to prevent racial violence. When discovered that the police were not the ones creating the orders for violence against blacks, the party evolved into a more politically focused group. Their focus then was creating a more just government for blacks, attempting to have all blacks treated as equals in every way. The Panthers believed in nonviolent approaches to social issues, but were commonly seen as a violent group due to their carrying of weapons in self defence. This source is important as it documents the creed of the Black Panther Party, giving us a look inside their core beliefs and goals that they wished to accomplish.

 

The John Brown Society. An Introduction to the Black Panther Party. Berkeley, California. Radical Education Project, 1969

(Click picture for full text)

 

 

 

 

  • One of the most widely known acts of protest against segregation in the south is Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus, where the blacks were required to sit. For this, she was arrested. She did not resist this arrest, she accepted it. Parks knew that nothing would be changed if the public view of blacks saw them as violent people. In this source, Parks gives a brief description of what happened on that day, along with what she thought during the moments of the acts. The most important thing to come out of this source is the quote coming from the police officer when asked why blacks had to be pushed around. He says he does not know, and that laws are laws. This shows that racism had become such a part of life that you did not even think about how blacks were treated differently, they just were. 

Parks, Rosa. Rosa Parks Papers: Writings, Notes, and Statements, 1956 to 1998; Drafts of early writings; Accounts of her arrest and the subsequent boycott, as well as general reflections on race relations in the South, 1956-, undated; Folder 2. – 1998, 1956. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mss859430226/

 

 

 

 

  • In this source, Ella Baker speaks on a number of black and white students sitting in at segregated restaurant counters, protesting the act of segregation. She says that this is about much more than wanting only food. This is a movement based around the belief that blacks should no longer be treated as lower than whites, and deserve every right that the white man gets. Along with sit ins, the protesters were also using peaceful protest and not fighting back against any physical violence that they faced, this was the popular form of protest that would be used by Martin Luther King Jr. in the future. This source is important as it showcases, albeit briefly, the working together of blacks and whites in the racist south, attempting to gain more rights for the blacks. The source also shows the beginning of the non-violent protesting method, used prominently a few years later.

We want the world to know that we no longer accept the inferior position of second-
class citizenship. We are willing to go to jail, be ridiculed, spat upon and even suffer
physical violence to obtain First Class Citizenship.
By and large, this feeling that they have a destined date with freedom, was not limited to
a drive for personal freedom, or even freedom for the Negro in the South.
Repeatedly it was emphasized that the movement was concerned with the moral
implications of racial discrimination for the “whole world”; and the “Human Race”.

Ella Baker, “Bigger than a Hamburger,” Southern Patriot, no. 18 (June 1960)

  • The call for help by a southern black woman gives us insight into the mindset of people facing discrimination, and their desire to fight back. The letter, distributed around to many southern blacks just days after Rosa Parks refused to move to the back, calls for them to boycott the public bus system, showing the bus company that as the primary users of the busses they were not to be discriminated against. In the letter, the writer emphasizes how blacks are currently not allowed to sit towards the front of the busses, and must stand over any empty seats that are open in the white section. The author says that the bus riders can afford to miss a day of school or work, or can walk if really needed, showing the urgency in the author’s voice. This source is important as it shows racism and discrimination through the eyes of the people on the receiving end, and what they plan to do about it.

Women’s Political Council, untitled leaflet, 5 December 1955

 

 

  • In the famous speech given by Martin Luther King Jr, King talks about how he has a dream that one day in America everyone will be treated equally, and not judged by what they look like, but instead by what they have to offer from their insides. This speech is important as it revitalized the civil rights movement, serving as a motivator and inspiration to blacks all over the country who had given up the hope of equal rights. One of the most important parts of the speech was the nonviolent approach, as a lot of focus in the past few years was on the more militaristic Malcolm X. This source is very important as it shows the beginning of the nonviolent movement led by Martin Luther King Jr, which eventually leads to the super important marches led by him.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

King, Martin L. “I Have a Dream.” Speech presented at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., August 1968. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mlk01.asp

  • In this audio snippet, we meet an influential black woman named Fannie Lou Hamer. She is testifying during the DNC of ‘64, speaking of the injustices that she has witnessed, from police brutality to blackmail to attempt to get her to withdraw her voting application. Hamer was known for her work in setting up voter registration days for her fellow black Mississippians. This source is important as it paints a picture of the abuse that all blacks from the south had to endure. Ranging from emotional abuse with segregation, to physical abuse with the constant beatings from police if they were not careful. Perhaps the most horrifying part is the fact that Fannie gets beat by two of her fellow blacks, when in the jail cell.

Fannie Lou Hamer. “Audio of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Testimony” Pamela Cook, 8:12. Aug 22nd, 1964

 

 

  • In this photo, we see the march to Montgomery from Selma unfolding. The march was a demonstration led through rural Alabama to raise awareness for civil rights. This photo shows the large amount of blacks involved in the march to Montgomery, prepared to face any violence thrown at them just for the color of their skin. This source is important as it showcases the monumental event which led to the passing of the voters rights act, securing the blacks right to vote like every other American. With President Johnson introducing the voters right bill into congress shortly after the marches, it was also a confirmation to the marchers that the people of America were listening to their cries, and that their dream may not be too far away.

Unknown, Marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge during the Selma to Montgomery March. March 7, 1965. Tourism Promotional Materials, Alabama. Bureau of Tourism and Travel, Selma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racism in the Modern Era

  • During the early 90’s, 4 police officers were acquitted of excessive force chargers from a video that had been captured and spread, showing the officers graphically beat a black man, by the name of Rodney King, on the ground who was not doing anything wrong. During the riots many were killed, many more were injured, and almost anything lootable was looted. Korean immigrants as well faced hard times during the riots, with little police help when dealing with looters. This source speaks to racism in the modern era, dealing mainly with the police officers using excessive force against minorities, along with not providing help to minorities in trouble during the riots. This source is important for the same reasons, showcasing how we are dealing with racism at a time when there is supposed to no longer be racial discrimination, and setting up the stereotype seen by many Americans that police cannot be trusted to be truthful, and carry out the law as intended.

Stevieboy247. “WNBC 4 New York – Coverage of the Los Angeles Riots (April 29, 1992)” Filmed April 29, 1992. 9:41. WNBC 4 New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • In this newspaper article, we learn that the current president of the United States has referred to primarily non-white countries producing immigrants as “shithole countries”, has made racist remarks against the citizens of these countries, and denies having said any of it even though there are audio recordings and/or videos showcasing the act. The president passes speaking like this off as putting Americans first in importance. In the past, he has stereotyped an entire nation as people who rape, murder, and a barrage of other insults. This source is extremely important as it shows how our country still puts up with racism today, and how extreme it is. It also provides an opportunity to compare today’s racism to that of the past to see how they are similar and different.

Mr. Trump asked why he would want “all these people from shithole countries,” adding that the United States should admit more people from places like Norway.

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Thomas Kaplan. “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa.” Www.nytimes.com, January 11, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/us/politics/trump-shithole-countries.html.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Adams, Ansel. Science Lecture, Manzanar Relocation Center. 1943. Ansel Adams’s Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs, Library of Congress, Manzanar, CA.

John F. Poole, No Irish need apply. H. De Marsan, 54 Chatham Street, New-York. Monographic. Online Text. https://www.loc.gov/item/amss.as109730/.

Unknown Ku Klux Klan member. Death threat from Ku Klux Klan to Charles Sumner. Letter. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.Charles Sumner related items. http://www.americanhistory.amdigital.co.uk/Documents/Details/Death-threat-from-Ku-Klux-Klan-to-Charles-Sumner/GLC07202.03

Exec. Order No. 8802, 3 C.F.R. (1941)

Malcolm X. “Malcolm X’s Fiery Speech Addressing Police Brutality” Smithsonian Channel, 2:48. 1962.

Parks, Rosa. Rosa Parks Papers: Writings, Notes, and Statements, 1956 to 1998; Drafts of early writings; Accounts of her arrest and the subsequent boycott, as well as general reflections on race relations in the South, 1956-, undated; Folder 2. – 1998, 1956. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mss859430226/.

Ella Baker, “Bigger than a Hamburger,” Southern Patriot, no. 18 (June 1960)

Women’s Political Council, untitled leaflet, 5 December 1955

King, Martin L. “I Have a Dream.” Speech presented at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., August 1968. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mlk01.asp

Fannie Lou Hamer. “Audio of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Testimony” Pamela Cook, 8:12. Aug 22nd, 1964

Stevieboy247. “WNBC 4 New York – Coverage of the Los Angeles Riots (April 29, 1992)” Filmed April 29, 1992. 9:41. WNBC 4 New York

Unknown, Marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge during the Selma to Montgomery March. March 7, 1965. Tourism Promotional Materials, Alabama. Bureau of Tourism and Travel, Selma.

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Thomas Kaplan. “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa.” Www.nytimes.com, January 11, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/us/politics/trump-shithole-countries.html.

The John Brown Society. An Introduction to the Black Panther Party. Berkeley, California. Radical Education Project, 1969

Secondary Sources

Parsons, Elaine Frantz. 2015. Ku-Klux : The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction. Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press, [2015].

Ling, Peter J. 2015. Martin Luther King, Jr. [Electronic Resource]. Routledge Historical Biographies. London : Routledge, [2015]

Riches, William Terence Martin. 2004. The Civil Rights Movement : Struggle and Resistance. Studies in Contemporary History. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004

FAULKENBURY, EVAN. “‘Monroe Is Hell’: Voter Purges, Registration Drives, and the Civil Rights Movement in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana.” Louisiana History 59, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 40–66

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