Many movements in modern times fail fairly quickly. Protests of any kind are usually defeated by popular opinion. People actually believe that our society is progressing toward being better, but that is questionable. This world we live in is a dystopia and the only thing that is changing are how well most of the problems hidden from the view. Since the 1960’s and 70’s, movements have not been as vital to social change. The modern era lacks the leadership and numbers that are necessary for convincing masses to change. It is because of this that many social movements die before any sort of impact can be made. There is no resolve or no move toward revolutions. Although reform has always been accepted in place of complete change, reforms are not even being made as they were in the past. Specifically concerning race, based on observation of the current society, things are reverting. Color-blind ideology (see the work of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva) is detrimental to any type of movement towards an egalitarian society. The reason that is behind this is a lack collectivity. Every group hoping to make life better for themselves all have differing goals of what they want to achieve. Within those movements there are both a difference in opinion on how goals should be achieved and even more difference in what the particular goals entail. Agreement on anything in this day and age is scarce. This page is will discuss what needs to be done in order to unify people who seek refuge from the hardships put on their lives because they have been excluded from the profits and luxuries this country has offer. For this particular project, focus will be put on the penalties that skin color brings to disadvantaged communities. Also,the history of movements concerning rights for people of color joining together will also be mentioned.
The Civil Rights movement is the biggest and most relevant movement in most peoples minds. It was a fight that lasted longer than most people believe, for it did not begin with Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. Resistance by people of color can be dated from the beginnings of the slave trade. However for our purposes, more recent times will be examined. One example is that of the efforts of the freedom summer in 1964.
Freedom Summer was a project creted by students to put an end to literacy tests that prevented African-Americans in Mississippi from voting. Some of their efforts included educating black people in Mississippi communities, introducing black people to things they could do to fight injustice, and protesting the injustices of the Mississippi legislature. The most prevalent element of this part of the civil rights movement was that it was mostly white students (90%) and some black students that were enlisting their services. One of the most horrific events that happened during this particular period was the disappearance of 3 volunteers in Neshoba County on June 21st, 1964.
In Neshoba County, Mississippi, Freedom summer volunteers were arrested by Cecil Price. The Sheriff let them go after a couple of hours at which point the were abducted and killed by KKK members. This is an extreme example of how this struggle was shared by those who wanted change.
The Civil Rights movement has inspired other movements. However, there is something to be learned from the end of the movements marked by the assassination of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and the emergence of the black power movement led by Huey P Newton and Stokley Carmicheal. Organizations that were prevalent during the civil rights movements bled into the black power movement. These organizations, SNCC, NAACP, and CORE, at one point all had common goals and involved people of all races. This is when they were successful. This is when they had the most achievement. However, when the black power movement emerged, black nationalism also emerged. This was detrimental to the movement. Stokely Carmichael who was an avid member of SNCC was an example of this. Near the beginning of the black power movement, this man found it necessary to purge any race that was not black from the organization. The ideal was that in order to achieve true black equality, black leaders needed to be seen and heard and that white participation would only take from this. The Black Power movement, although there motives were correct in that affirmation of black solidarity was necessary to achieve cultural, political, and economic equality, the harm that came from the expulsion of both privileged whites and other people of color did not help the cause.
This reaction was a result of the anger caused by lack of civil rights change and how slow the entire process of change was. The right to life is not something that should need to be fought for. Anger in this case was rational, however the harm it cause is still prevalent today.
Contemporary Movements towards Unity:
There are some organizations that look to fight not only against racism and for human rights, but also to unify races so that they may fight together for a common goal. The Center for Racial Unity specifically fights racism in America. Its religious foundations drive it in the fight against racism and to strove towards racial unity. Their mission“is to teach, train and lead the Body of Christ in eradicating racism within the body, so the body’s Unity reflects God’s love to the world.” Its firm belief in christian values set it apart from most collective movements. However, it is clear that their goal is to unite all people under equality of life.
Another organization fighting for racial unity is the Coalition for Racial Unity. This organization is a facebook group that fights for unity through social media and its efforts to educate people about race issues. They conduct “workshops, seminars, and events that bridge racial and ethnic divide”.
One example of a small-scale, locally-focused organization that tackles this issues is MRULE or Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience at Michigan State University. MRULE specializes in creating multi racial living experiences for residents. It conducts, shares, and encourages roundtable talks, community service, community building tips, and a monthly social.Interaction seems to be the theme for this organization. This is vital to a movement towards unity because of the education that can happen just from contact with each other.
Finally, Thurrock Racial Unity Support Task Group or TRUST is an organization out of England that fights for some of the same goals as the others.” TRUST is an umbrella organisation that works to strengthen minority ethnic communities; to enable a collective voice for a just society where everyone has an equal chance to learn, work and live free from discrimination, prejudice and from fear of racial harassment and violence; to promote good inter-community relations and achieve community cohesion and harmony in Thurrock.”
All of these groups fight for racial unity. The fact that a separate movement is need in order to unify races towards a common cause is slightly sad. However, in current times it is necessary.
I believe that now is a time on the brink of chaos. It is within this time that people realize truths and begin to move. In order for movement to make any impact there must be numbers. There must be a collective effort large and strong enough to take any violence and aggression that is put in place by a system that does not want to be dismantled. It will fight for its existence by any means necessary. Only through unity of theory, action, and cause can goals be achieved. The Civil Rights Movement was successful because of people’s need to control their lives and its ability to let in help that was later shunned, but future movements can orient toward the same goal. The creation of disunity only lead to destruction, as seen with The Black Power movement. A 2nd Civil Rights movement is necessary to achieve what the first did not accomplish. Hidden injustices do not make the world a better place, they just make it seem OK. A call to action for all people who suffer from oppression is needed and the goal must be to take what is rightfully owed.
Watson, Bruce. Freedom Summer: the Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy. New York, NY: Viking, 2010. Print.
Sitkoff, Harvard. The Struggle for Black Equality: 1954-1980. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992. Print.
Minority Nationalist Movements and Theories of Political Integration. Anthony H. Birch. World Politics. Vol. 30, No. 3 (Apr., 1978), pp. 325-344
“AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERSHIP AND MASS.” Stanford University. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.stanford.edu/~ccarson/articles/black_scholar.htm>.
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- Book: Racial Unity: An Imperative for Social Progress by Richard Walter Thomas
- Collectice movements http://www.alberoni.it/versione-inglese/movimenti-collettivi.asp