What Did Civil Rights Mean in Postwar America?

civil rights mean in post war America

The civil rights movements in the post war America was in the general sense a fight for equality for the blacks with the protesters demanding equal and fair treatment of the entire American citizen regardless of the race. This was thus expressed in different forms like rights for equal treatment in public utilities, rights to vote and respectful treatment. This civil rights movement became important when the post war veteran came from war having sacrificed their lives for the principles of freedom only to be welcomed to a segregated and racial nation. This led to the sowing of seeds of civil rights and the leaders demanded for the rights of their people. This paper will try to expound more on the issue of the meaning of civil rights in the postwar America. In doing this, the different civil right movements will be considered and in particular a comparison will be made between the Montgomery bus boycott, the ballot or the bullet and the La Raza Unida. The paper will try to analyze the different rights that each group was looking for and what arguments were given forth for pursuing these rights. The issue of timing will also be considered and the source of these rights. Finally the consequence of lack of these rights will be analyzed.

The civil rights

In the Montgomery bus boycott, the seamstress Rosa Park had refused to her seat up to a white man in the bus. This was the usual mistreatment that had been accorded to the black people and it is this incident that aroused them to fight for these rights. In this case, Martin Luther King led the boycott of the black citizens demanding the equality rights and for fair and equal treatment of the blacks just the same way the whites were being treated. These rights were expressed in through several demands in the boycott. They wanted the bus drivers to treat courteously all the passengers regardless of whether he was white or black. King states that for quiet along time the Negros had been crippled by the fear of the buses because of the unfair treatment. The fairness was also sought through the demand for the blacks to be allowed to enter the bus from the front instead of the back after actually paying from the front. The whites in this case could pay from the front and still enter from the front. Fairness was also sought through the demand for seating to be done in first come first served basis. Therefore just the mere fact that Rosa Park had occupied the seat earlier gave her the right to seat on it and not be forced to stand for a white person who came late. The protesters were tired of the being oppressed and trampled in their own country.

In comparison to the speech by Malcolm X, Ballot or bullet, here they are also demanding for equality through the total granting of the civil rights of the American citizen. In this case Malcolm wanted the blacks to be allowed to vote in all the 50 states of America. The importance of the ballot is pointed out by Malcolm where he equates it to freedom and threatens to use of bullets if this right is not given. Through the idea of freedom, he considers the voting right i.e. The ballot to be equal to the human rights when he wants to seek the UN help which was considered the defenders of the countries which were weak economically. The blacks are also demanding for representation because the too pay tax like their white counterparts. He says that just like the movement against the British Empire led by George Washington was tired with taxes without representation, so are the blacks also tired of taxes without representation. The 22,000,000 black people was a significant number if at all they would be allowed to vote then their views would be heard and be represented just like the other white citizens. They wanted equality because it was unfair to tax them yet they had no opinion in the way the money was being utilized in the government.

The Mexican-American formed the ground swell movement called La Raza Unida which comprised of several social, religious, cultural and political groups. This movement was demanding for equality rights because they were a minority group which was also disadvantaged just like their African-American counterparts. The particular rights were economic, social, educational and political opportunities that the American democratic system guaranteed. There wasn't fairness in the opportunity that led to poor standards of living for the Mexican -- Americans usually having poor education and housing. This group essentially wanted the Mexicans to be treated with fairness and as equal people to the whites therefore granted the different opportunities that the American democratic system provided for. The movement was also demanding the right for the Mexican-American to be treated with dignity and respect just like all the normal human beings. They were fighting the disrespect and inferiority perception of their race which was evident in the Southwest whereby there was still posting of glaring signs with brutal words like "No Mexicans allowed."

Reasons for the movements

The African-American in the Montgomery boycott wanted the rights because they wanted the oppression and intimidation that had humiliated them for a long time to stop. They wanted equality rights so that they can be treated with fairness just like the whites. There are several reasons that Martin Luther King gives for the demand for these rights. First of all he says that the principal basis for their demand of their rights is because they are American citizens. This gives the implication of the civil rights that are usually accorded to the citizens of a country therefore justifying their demonstration because their civil rights were denied. He again states that they are determined to apply their citizenship to the full extent. This citizenship reason shows that they have every right to demand for equality and fair treatment as all the other American citizens. The other reason that is used for the demand for the rights is democracy of which is considered an important aspect of the American society because it was able to transform the country from a mere paper to a great type of government on earth. This democratic rationale is relevant because according to democracy all the citizen should be treated with fairness because they are all considered equals. The other argument that is used to demand the rights is Christianity. Martin Luther states that they are Christian people and they believe in the Christian religion. This shows that they believed in the Christian teaching regarding equality and fairness there makes them justified.

In sharp contrast to the Montgomery bus boycott, Malcolm gives democracy as the reason but looks at it negatively by pointing out its hypocritical nature. Democracy does not apply to all the citizens because the white American are allowed to vote and propagate it, but when it comes to the backs, they are discouraged and told that they are few in number therefore cannot win. The blacks in this instance want the right for equal representation through the voting system. They want to be allowed to vote because they pay tax and therefore they are entitled to decide how the tax is being used in he policy by having their representative. Indeed Malcolm believes that if the blacks are allowed to vote, then the power of the Negro which has been added will change the country and sweep the segregationist and racists out of office. Therefore he gives the reason of eliminating racism if voting is allowed for the blacks in all the states. The other reason that Malcolm states is that they deserve the voting rights because it is provided for in the constitution. The constitution considers all people to be equal and therefore all have the same rights including voting rights.

The Mexican-American protesters also have several reasons for the rights claims. Their reasons is also based on inequality that they are experiencing in terms of the economic, social, educational and political opportunities which are not distributed equally. Just like the argument of Martin Luther King, they base their claims on the democratic system of America. According to them, these rights are already guaranteed by the system and it's only an inequality to be denied. This is similar to the argument of Martin Luther because it shines a positive light on the democratic system of America which has provisions for these rights. Again the reason of being a disadvantaged minority is a reason for pursuing these rights. From the study project of the Mexican-American project study, the economic level of the Mexican-American is also another reason for these rights movements.

Historical claims

When demanding for their rights, in the different instances we see that there are several historical claims made by the leaders and groups. Martin Luther claims that the oppression…