Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Inspiration from the Civil Rights Era

For this reaction paper, I would like to reflect off of the Civil Rights Era.  The Civil Rights Era has always interested me, and we happen to be talking about bits and pieces of it in our Culture, Race and Diversity class currently. 

In preparation for the tenth session in our policy class, there are some links about the Civil Right Milestones.  Just learning about all the aspects of this time and how mistreated blacks were is mind-blowing.  Watching videos of black men being beaten or hosed just for walking down a sidewalk and not moving out of the way for a white person is absurd.  But for these men and women to fight for their rights and get the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 is uplifting to me. 

When going to the Civil Right Milestone link, I learned quite a bit I did not know.  One thing that caught my eye was the Attica Prison Riot.  For one, I cannot believe (which it still happens today) that people are so mistreated, especially within the prison systems.  For minorities who were arrested (for minor offenses), put into those prisons for long periods of time and had to live in, as stated in the text, “inhumane” living quarters is saddening.  

Learning even more about the March on Washington was also great.  Last semester we read John Lewis’ books March. What I did not realize was that the March on Washington was supposed to happen in 1941. In the article, it states that the march was called off after Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed to ban discrimination by defense industries or government entities, but then, two decades later, the march continued again.  The march actually happened in 1963 to show racial unity and racial harmony. They also wanted to show support of the Civil Rights bill.  And to think, all of this happened due to prejudices against somebody’s color. 

Your reaction essay demonstrates the importance of understanding institutions and heritage when we consider problems in our society and how to address them.  The bravery of the civil rights workers and the brutality and racism of those who opposed them can inspire us today to work for what is right and just even in the face of people who do not see aright the injustices we want to correct. The misery of the prisoners, and their defiance in Attica Prison, and the cruelty and homicidal rage of the people who put down the prison uprising also can remind us that it is quite possible for persons labeled as “criminals” to act with greater humanity than the persons we would tend to label as “heroes” in certain situations. Persons in prisons are routinely depicted as subhuman monsters and brutes in our popular culture, but in too many cases the system that puts people into prisons and treats prisoners as garbage is the real example of monstrous brutality.

It’s also important to note that even though it seems that good triumphs over evil, and our civilization enjoys progress, the darkness has never yet shown signs of being entirely and utterly defeated, and the human tendency to dehumanize the “other” and treat members of the out-group with contempt or hatred or complete apathy keeps coming back to threaten us with new forms of devilry and violent mischief. The marches must be rescheduled or held again.  The people must rise up and make their voices heard.  The people who stand for decency and justice must act, and support group efforts to defeat the darkness again and again, no matter how often it rises up to threaten human rights or social justice.

Good reaction essay.  Studying our history and the heritage that gives us what we have today illuminates our thinking about the problems we still face and the actions we may need to take to avoid the disasters and injustices of the past.

No comments: