Black History Debate

Debate instructions:You have been divided into two groups. Group A will support SNCC and what evolved into the Black Power movement. Group B will support the SCLC (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement). To participate in the debate, you need to research both positions. The required work will help you. Who will you be in this debate? What character will you pick? It does not have to be an actual historical figure. You can be, for example, a white SNCC worker, or a Black Panther working in the breakfast program. Stay in character for your responses because each response is part of the debating.The initial post will be at least 300 words. You are then required to continue the debate by posting responses to the arguments of the opposing group. At least two responses must be at least 200 words. Respond as many times as you wish. Your two best responses will be graded. Do not make assumptions. Instead, assume the historical role of someone who lived in the United States during this period. Whatever you write should be in character. Be creative! Remember that everything you argue, although in character, must be grounded in academic research and must demonstrate you have done the required work.I am GROUP A, so must debate in support of Black Power movement. Please include a 300 word debate and a few responses. I have attached the reading for the week. Please use credible sources. I have included a few links for any help that may be required as well.https://www.c-span.org/video/?309036-1/black-power…No need to watch it all, just for help.Thanks
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CHAPTER 4
We Changed the World
1945–1970
Vincent Harding
Robin D. G. Kelley
Earl Lewis
Near the end of the Second World War, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., one of black America’s
most internationally conscious spokesmen, tried to place the ongoing African-American
freedom movement into the context of the anticolonial struggles that were rising explosively
out of the discontent of the nonwhite world. Already, movements for independence had begun
in British colonies in West Africa and French colonies in West and Equatorial Africa. Later,
colonies in North Africa and British East Africa joined the freedom struggle. Powell, who was
both a flamboyant and effective congressman from Harlem and the pastor of that community’s
best-known Christian congregation, the Abyssinian Baptist Church, declared:
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
The black man continues on his way. He plods wearily no longer—he is striding freedom road with the
knowledge that if he hasn’t got the world in a jug, at least he has the stopper in his hand. … He is ready to
throw himself into the struggle to make the dream of America become flesh and blood, bread and butter,
freedom and equality. He walks conscious of the fact that he is no longer alone no longer a minority.
Although they might not have been able to express it in Powell’s colorful language, many
black Americans were quite aware of the changes taking place. There were glaring
differences, for instance, between where they grew up in the South and the Northern cities
where they were trying to establish themselves for the first time.
Most of the new arrivals realized that the North was not heaven, but they believed that it
was a place where they could escape some of the most hellish aspects of their life in the South.
For instance, they did not expect ever again to have to see the bodies of men hanging from trees
after they had been riddled with bullets and often mutilated. They did not expect that women
would be vulnerable to rape and exploitation simply because they were black and defenseless.
In the Northern cities they did not expect to have to teach their children to move out of the path
when white people were approaching.
Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis. To Make Our World Anew, Volume II, edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, and Earl Lewis, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Created from apus on 2017-03-02 15:46:40.
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
A member of the 12th Armored Division stands guard over Nazi prisoners who were captured by U.S. forces in 1945.
Blacks also migrated to the West and settled in cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle. One
of the most exciting gifts that these new locales offered was the opportunity for black people to
vote as free men and free women for the first time in their lives. Registering to vote in
Philadelphia, Detroit, or Oakland did not mean risking your life and the lives of your family,
risking your job or your home. In those postwar years, black people took significant advantage
of this new freedom and became voters in even larger proportions than white Southerners who
had migrated North. As a result, black voters in some Northern cities like Chicago and New
York held the balance of power in close municipal elections.
This new political involvement brought with it another change. In most of the Northern cities
where the black Southerners settled, the political structures were largely dominated by the
Democratic party. Generally, the men who controlled these tightly organized political machines
were eager to add the newly arrived black people to their voting tallies as long as they thought
they could control their votes. And, in fact, millions of African Americans eventually broke
away from their generations-long allegiance to the Republican party, the party of Lincoln, the
Great Emancipator. Ironically enough, this transfer of allegiance meant that Northern blacks
were now aligned with the same Democratic party that had long been dominated on the
national scene by the white racist sons of the slaveholders, men who kept their control of the
party largely through terrorist acts to deny black voting rights in the South. In the North, black
voters were now part of that Democratic party structure and were in a position to begin to
challenge its worst traditions.
Despite such rewards as finding better jobs and educational opportunities, and gaining the
right to vote, this liberating movement into the Northern cities carried some clear penalties.
Racism lived in many white urban neighborhoods and postwar suburbs. The rising black
middle class, anxious to buy property in a “nice” neighborhood with good schools and efficient
services, often bumped up against a threatening white mob and its racist rhetoric. Sometimes
white resistance to black neighbors turned deadly. In Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and
Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis. To Make Our World Anew, Volume II, edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, and Earl Lewis, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=679615.
Created from apus on 2017-03-02 15:46:40.
several other cities (in both the North and the South), newly purchased homes were burned,
vandalized, or had crosses burned on their lawns—a common tactic adopted by white
supremacist organizations, notably the Ku Klux Klan.
Of course, there were real estate agents and white residents who insisted that their form of
segregation was not racist but driven by economic realities. They claimed to have nothing
against black people but were simply worried about their homes declining in value. Sadly,
their arguments were tacitly backed by the federal government, notably the Federal Housing
Administration (FHA), the agency that insured homeowners’ loans to low-income Americans
and set housing standards. Indeed, after the Second World War, the FHA refused to provide
mortgages to blacks moving into white neighborhoods and claimed that African Americans
were regarded as poor risks for loans. The FHA also claimed that the future value of homes
owned by blacks was uncertain.
Most of the new migrants could not afford to buy homes immediately, especially in the
sprawling suburbs. No matter where they ended up, however, primarily the inner areas of
urban centers like Chicago and Detroit, they sought to create the rich sense of community they
had left behind. For even in the midst of harsh white oppression and poverty, black people,
nurtured by their extended families and by their churches, had managed to build astonishing
reservoirs of love, faith, and hope in the South. Such support was not readily available in the
North.
Reflecting on his own Harlem childhood in Nobody Knows My Name (1961), James
Baldwin caught some of the perplexing dilemma of a city block in the long-anticipated
“Promised Land” of the North.
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
They work in the white man’s world all day and come home in the evening to this fetid block. They struggle to
instill in their children some private sense of honor or dignity which will help the child to survive. This means, of
course, that they must struggle, stolidly, incessantly, to keep this sense alive in themselves, in spite of the insults,
the indifference, and the cruelty they are certain to encounter in their working day. They patiently browbeat the
landlord into fixing the heat, the plaster, the plumbing; this demands prodigious patience, nor is patience usually
enough. … Such frustration so long endured, is driving many strong, admirable men and women whose only
crime is color to the very gates of paranoia. …
It required the sensitivity and skills of gifted artists to capture the complexities of the
changes that millions of black women, men and children were experiencing in their movement
North. Baldwin was only one of the writers who tried to explain that complexity to the world.
Ann Petry provided a painfully honest account of a young woman’s encounter with the Northern
urban reality in her novel The Street. Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man reflected the
humor, anger, hope, and the search for new beginnings that the urban experience represented
for the transplanted black Southerners. Ellison’s protagonist discovers a major difference
between the South and the North when he first arrives in Harlem and begins to mingle with the
evening crowds who have gathered to listen to the street-corner teachers and lecturers. Most of
the rousing speeches eventually turn to the injustices of white people against people of color at
home and abroad, and the young man in the novel, who has come North from Alabama, says, “I
never saw so many Negroes angry in public before.”
The expanding ability to be angry in public was a major part of the change that black people
Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis. To Make Our World Anew, Volume II, edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, and Earl Lewis, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=679615.
Created from apus on 2017-03-02 15:46:40.
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
found in the North. In his novels, short stories, and essays, Richard Wright, who had originally
gone to Chicago from Mississippi in the twenties, expressed this anger and its consequences
more vividly and consistently than anyone else in his novel Native Son (1940).
Still, there were emotions and experiences that could never be captured by the written word.
The music surging out of black communities became a powerful vehicle for communicating
these feelings. The blues that had come up with the solitary old guitars from Memphis and the
Mississippi Delta took on the new electricity and complexity of the cities, eventually becoming
the music of small combos and big bands, pressing on toward what would soon be known as
rhythm and blues. At the same time, out of the familiar settings of classic African-American
jazz, piercing new sounds began to break through, offering unexpected, unresolved, and often
jagged tonal edges in place of the smoother flows of the music from which it sprang. This was
called “bebop” or “bop” for short. The names of its practitioners—Thelonious Monk, Dizzy
Gillespie, Charlie (“Yardbird”) Parker, and the young Miles Davis—and the boldness of their
lifestyles soon became as well known in the black community and among white jazz fans as
their predecessors Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, and Coleman Hawkins.
Whatever else bop was, it was the music of change. Everything in it sounded protest, marked
a determination to break out of the older, predictable harmonies. Based in places like Minton’s
Playhouse in Harlem, the 52nd Street jazz strip further downtown in New York City, and Los
Angeles’s famed Central Avenue, the irrepressible music grew out of the urgency of a postwar
generation to sing its new songs, to wail and scream when necessary.
Nowhere were the songs more important than in the thousands of black churches in the
Northern cities. Following the lead of vibrant women vocalists such as Mahalia Jackson,
Sallie and Roberta Martin, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, supplied with a stream of songs by the
prolific gospel songwriter Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, the churches were filled with resounding,
rhythmic witness to the new time, as gospel singers shouted, “There’s been a great change
since I been born.”
In the decade following the Second World War, more than sixty percent of the black
population was still living in the South, however. And the nation’s attention focused on that
region as the African-American community won a series of significant battles in the courts and
at the executive level of the federal government. In 1946, for example, the Supreme Court ruled
that segregation on buses was unconstitutional. Two years later, the Court outlawed the use of
“restrictive covenants”—codicils added on to a deed to limit the sale of a home to specific
racial groups. Restrictive covenants were generally used to keep African Americans from
buying homes in all-white neighborhoods. Although these gains were long overdue, they were
partial outgrowths of national and international circumstances that forced President Harry S.
Truman and the Democrats to pay attention to blacks.
First, Truman, his cabinet, and Congress were all concerned about America’s image abroad,
especially now that the United States was competing with the Soviet Union for influence over
the new nations in Asia and Africa, for example, created by the collapse of European
colonialism. They could not promote their version of democracy abroad as long as the United
States treated its own black citizens so badly. Second, Truman’s reelection in 1948 depended
on black votes more than ever. This time around, the Democratic party was in utter disarray.
On one side stood former Vice President Henry Wallace, who decided to run for president as a
Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis. To Make Our World Anew, Volume II, edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, and Earl Lewis, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=679615.
Created from apus on 2017-03-02 15:46:40.
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
member of the newly formed Progressive party. Wallace was highly regarded in the black
community; his civil rights record was impeccable, and he sought to bring the Cold War with
the Soviet Union to an end through cooperation rather than military threats.
On the other side were the Southern Democrats led by South Carolina senator Strom
Thurmond. Their break from the Democrats further divided the vote, creating a situation in
which black voters would have a decisive role in the elections. Calling themselves the States’
Rights party (also known as the Dixiecrats), these Southern Democrats believed Truman’s civil
rights agenda had gone too far.
Because Truman had to respond to African-American and international pressure, he and his
cabinet contributed to the Southern white flight from the Democratic party. The main catalyst
was Truman’s decision to create the first Civil Rights Commission. The commission’s report,
To Secure These Rights (1947), proposed some specific ways in which the federal government
might respond to the demands of the postwar black community. For example, the report called
for the establishment of a permanent federal civil rights commission—a bold and progressive
proposal in those days. The report urged an end to segregation in the U.S. armed forces and
pressed for laws to protect the voting rights of black people.
To Secure These Rights provided solid evidence to black people that their needs were
finally being dealt with at the highest level of U.S. political life. Meanwhile, almost every year
in the crucial postwar decade seemed to produce new, affirming responses from the federal
courts to the dozens of challenges to segregation and disenfranchisement that the NAACP and
thousands of black plaintiffs were pressing in the courts.
One of the most important of these cases, Morgan v. Virginia, was heard by the U.S.
Supreme Court in 1946. Irene Morgan had firmly refused to move to the back of a Virginia-toBaltimore Greyhound bus, as Virginia law required. She was convicted of a misdemeanor. The
Court declared that the practice of segregated seating in interstate public transportation was
unconstitutional and that black people traveling across state lines could not be legally forced
into segregated rear seats when they arrived in a Southern state. The “back of the bus”
experience was one of the most humiliating and widely known manifestations of legalized
white supremacy, so word of the decision was welcomed in the nation’s black communities.
Irene Morgan became a hero among black Americans. But a Supreme Court decision did not
guarantee change. Neither the bus companies nor the Southern states leaped to comply with the
ruling. So others had to take up Irene Morgan’s initiative and move it forward.
That was precisely what happened in the spring of 1947 when a group of sixteen men,
evenly divided between black and white, began what they called a Journey of Reconciliation.
The trip was organized by a Chicago-based interracial organization known as the Congress of
Racial Equality, or CORE. A relatively new offshoot from the Fellowship of Reconciliation
(FOR)—a Christian pacifist organization, founded during the First World War, that advocated
nonviolent social change through civil disobedience—CORE was deeply committed to
nonviolent direct action. Its members took inspiration from the spirit of the Indian nationalist
leader Mahatma Gandhi in their quest for racial justice and reconciliation. At the same time,
with the black members of the team sitting in front and the whites in back of the two Greyhound
and Trailways buses that they rode from Washington, D.C., to stops in Virginia, North
Carolina, and Kentucky, they were testing compliance with the recent Morgan decision and
Kelley, Robin D. G., and Earl Lewis. To Make Our World Anew, Volume II, edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, and Earl Lewis, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. ProQuest Ebook Central,
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=679615.
Created from apus on 2017-03-02 15:46:40.
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press, USA. All rights reserved.
urging federal enforcement of the ruling. The major immediate result of the journey was that
some other black passengers felt encouraged to move toward the front of the buses. In one
incident during the fifteen-city trip through the South, three members of the CORE team were
arrested and sentenced to twenty-one days of hard labor on a North Carolina prison farm. The
Journey of Reconciliation provided the model for the later Freedom Rides in 1961.
Probably no legal victory of the immediate postwar years could match the overall
significance of the 1944 Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Allwright. This decision
essentially destroyed one of the major legal obstacles to black political participation in the
South—the white primaries of the Democratic party.
Earlier in the twentieth century, having claimed that their party primary voting process was
the activity of private associations, Democrats managed to exclude African Americans from
participating in this “private” activity. As a result, black citizens were left with little voice in
government, since the Southern Democratic primaries often determined the outcome of the
general elections. African Americans refused to accept this situation, and in state after state
they brought lawsuits challenging these exclusively white primaries.
In July 1940, Lonnie Smith, an African-American resident of Harris County, Texas, was
stopped from voting in the Democratic party’s primary election. Though he met all the legal
requirements to vote, Smith was forbidden to vote because of his race. With the assistance of
an NAACP legal team that included attorney Thurgood Marshall, Smith sued election judge
Allwright. Finally, in Smith v. Allwright, the Supreme Court responded to the black
challengers with a judgment outlawing the white primary process. When that happened,
everyone knew that a new era was beginning: blacks across the South took that decision
regarding the Texas primary as a signal to expand and intensify their voter registration activity.
With the help of a ruling by a South Carolina federal judge, J. Waties Waring, black
plaintiffs won a crucial victory in that state. When South Carolina attempted to circumvent the
Smith v. Allwright decision by removing all statutes …
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