This archived article was written by: Scott Froehlich
During February, the nation celebrates the achievements of African-Americans throughout the history of America. The celebration provides the opportunity to reflect on all the struggles African-Americans endured. From slavery to the Civil Rights Movement, and even present-day issues, the fight for freedom and inclusiveness is part of the fabric of our culture.
From the early days of the United States’ emergence as a union, slavery was used to improve the economic and social status of citizens; especially plantation owners. Even after slavery was abolished, many African-Americans were marginalized and viewed as inferior beings. With the implementation of the Jim Crow law, traces of slavery existed as many white Americans limited the role of African-Americans in society. Restrictions to where to eat, access to certain schools, and voting rights were all used to assert the dominance that was held over black people.
It took 76 years after the abolition of slavery for African-Americans to be granted the right to vote, and even then the process was littered with competency tests and voting fees that whites weren’t subject to. The efforts of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X pressured and compelled the government to take measures to ensure equal rights for all in the U.S. While there was much opposition and even greater backlash from those in favor of segregation, the resistance of such leaders proved to overcome such obstacles.
Many notable figures helped gain African-Americans freedom and equality. Harriet Tubman freed thousands of slaves by way of “The Underground Railroad” and was active in the women’s suffrage movement. Rosa Parks was one of the first civil-rights activists, who famously refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Hiram Revels became the first to be an elected to public office, and most recently, Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president.
These men and women strived for the same values and opportunities that many Americans took for granted. After the country was finally desegregated, and African-Americans were given the right to vote, the American dream was fully realized.
There are plenty sources of literature and media that encapsulate the era of The Civil Rights movement and serve as a book mark for that time in history. Movies like “Selma” “Hidden Figures” and “The Butler,” while dramatized and scripted, also give us a glimpse of what many average people had gone through during the time.
It’s easy to think of Black History Month as a retrospect of the past, but there are plenty of ongoing struggles that remain in many black communities. It is our job as Americans, regardless of our race or ethnicity, to actively learn from the mistakes of our past and continue to fight for equality for all. The history of African-Americans is one of the many examples that show being steadfast and united as a people ultimately prevails and conquers all.