PUBLIC IMAGE PRIVATE SHAME will help you look, in depth, at the modern
civil rights movement of the 1950s to mid-1970s. Im...
8 1957: Continuing to challenge
school segregation  58
Racist diehards resist change  59
Integrating Central High  5...
This textbook looks at the history of the black civil rights struggle in America
through the lens of the 2007 curricul...
Cultural diversity, inclusion and community engagement
Like the United States, New Zealand is increasingly becoming ...
Foreword from civil rights
activists and others
In the summer of 2007 I was given the wonderful pleasure of
meeting ...
Thinking it over
1	 Look at the photograph of Till’s killers in court. The accused seem relaxed and
confident. What wou...
While black Americans could vote in the
north in the 1950s, they had no political
representation and so many d...
the United States of America was a ‘tabula rasa’ or ‘blank state’ of boundless virgin territory. In their eyes,
this ta...
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Social Studies book design_Public Image Private Shame


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Social Studies book design_Public Image Private Shame

  1. 1. PUBLIC IMAGE PRIVATE SHAME will help you look, in depth, at the modern civil rights movement of the 1950s to mid-1970s. Importantly, this book provides exciting new material that encourages students to see that the modern movement belonged to a tradition of protest that first began on the shores of Africa and continues to this day. A special feature of Public Image Private Shame provides fresh perspectives from a range of people, including movement leaders, grassroots supporters, white supremacists and political leaders. The last two chapters of the book invite students to examine race relations in the US today, and in particular, the importance, impact and issues surrounding Barack Obama’s meteoric rise in becoming the nation’s first democratically elected African- American president. The content of this book and the depth at which it is written means it can be studied at level 1 and level 2. ISBN 978-1-4425-3713-2 9 7 8 1 4 4 2 5 3 7 1 3 2 PublicImagePrivateShame RoydonAgent ABOUT THE AUTHOR Roydon Agent teaches history at Kamo High School in Whangarei. He was a Fulbright Scholar to the US in 2007, and in 2009 Roydon travelled to the US as a recipient of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Roydon is a specialist in black civil rights history and has travelled to the US several times researching this book. During this time he had the privilege of meeting with key civil rights legends, including SNCC leaders Congressman John Lewis and Julian Bond, Little Rock students Terrance Roberts, Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Corretta Scott Young, Fred Gray (Rosa Parks’ lawyer), and Billy Kyles (who was near King when he was assassinated). 9781442537132_COV.indd 1 10/3/11 11:49 AM
  3. 3. iiiii 8 1957: Continuing to challenge school segregation  58 Racist diehards resist change  59 Integrating Central High  59 9 1958–60: Black liberation  68 The tradition of black self-defence  68 Early black liberation leaders  69 Robert F Williams: Advocate for self-defence  74 10 1960–62: Student defiance  77 A new generation of protest  77 Sit-ins  78 The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee  80 Freedom Rides  81 James Meredith and the University of Mississippi  86 11 The battle for Birmingham  88 Racism in Birmingham  88 12 1963–64: Pressing for real change  100 The Civil Rights Act  101 The Freedom Summer  109 13 Selma 1965: One man, one vote  116 The SNCC in Selma  116 King and the SCLC come to Selma  117 14 1965–67: The emergence of black power  125 The seeds of discontent  126 The March Against Fear  131 Black power and cultural transformation  134 The Black Panthers  137 15 1968–70: Memphis and beyond  142 The fight against poverty  143 King’s assassination  145 16 1970–2009: Politics and protest  150 US presidents 1970–2009  151 17 Black rights in America today  161 America’s first black president  162 The black experience in modern America  168 Reflection  173 Appendix: Exemplars of student essays  175 The Underground Railroad  175 Frederick Douglass: From slave to statesman  176 Tuskegee syphilis experiment (1932–1972)  178 The ‘N’ Word  179 Ella Baker and participatory democracy  181 Contents Public Image Private Shame: Introduction   for teachers  iv Acknowledgements  vi Dedication  vii Foreword from civil rights activists and others  viii From the author  1 1 Racism in America  2 Emmett Till’s America  2 The roots of racism  7 2 Slavery and resistance  9 Early Africa  10 The middle passage  11 Slave life in America  12 Slave resistance  15 3 The road to emancipation  19 Key causes of emancipation  20 Revolutionary republican ideals  20 The economic needs of the elite  23 Abolitionist pressure  23 The American Civil War  25 4 Neo-slavery  28 Reconstruction  29 Entrenchment  29 Neo-slavery  30 Black progress after Reconstruction  33 The challenge of World War Two  34 5 The modern black civil rights movement  36 Grassroots change  36 The US system of government  37 Two approaches to activism  38 6 Brown v. Board of Education  42 Dismantling Jim Crow education  43 Alexander v. Holmes County  47 7 The Montgomery bus protest  48 ‘It’s my Constitutional right!’  48 1955–56: The Montgomery bus protest  49 Kennedy with students in HarlemMalcolm X
  4. 4. viv This textbook looks at the history of the black civil rights struggle in America through the lens of the 2007 curriculum and requirements for NCEA Level 1 and Level 2. In response to the new curriculum paradigm, this textbook differs from previous ones in the following ways. Expanded content In the past, study of the black civil rights struggle has focused on the modern civil rights era (1950–1970) with little to no historical contextualisation. This book takes a different approach. It clearly places the modern civil rights era within its historical context, with a narrative running from the earliest days of slavery through to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. It also contains enquiry-based links with New Zealand history, where students are asked to compare and contrast ‘race’ issues here with the issues they are reading about. Enquiry-based scaffolding This textbook provides an enquiry-based framework to help students make their own meaning from the content. Each chapter contains explanations and questions relating to consequences of events, key perspectives and historical interpretations. This structure can help students in two ways. First, it allows them to become better acquainted with the nuances of racism in the USA. Second, it serves as a reminder that history is never set in stone, that it is fluid, consists of many perspectives and is open to more than one interpretation. The structure also makes it easier for students to research for internal assessments and prepare for external examinations. Achievement objectives Level 6 6.1: Understanding causes and effects Understand how the causes and consequences of past events that are of significance to New Zealand shaped the lives of people and society. The material in this book explains the causes and consequences of racism against African- Americans in the United States of America. The significance of this material to New Zealanders is that students can readily draw parallels between racism in the USA and racism in Aotearoa–New Zealand. 6.2: Understanding how perspectives differ Understand how people’s perspectives on past events that are of significance to New Zealand differ. Differing perspectives are presented throughout Public Image Private Shame and students have ample opportunity to compare and contrast them.  Level 7 7.1: Understanding causes and consequences The material in this book looks at white racism as a force in the USA. It also examines the modern black civil rights movement as a response to that racism. Importantly, the text encourages students to dig deeper into specific examples of black resistance (Montgomery bus protest, black power, Black Panthers). 7.2: Understand interpretations differ Understand that people’s interpretation of events that are of significance to New Zealand differ. This book has a range of primary and secondary sources that require interpretation. These include cartoons, speeches, newspaper clippings and photographs. In some cases, specific questions are provided to develop students’ interpretation skills. Others have been presented without questions to give teachers or students the opportunity to pose their own. Level 8 8.1: Understanding causes, consequences and explanations Understand that the causes, consequences and explanations of historical events that are of significance to New Zealand are complex, and how and why they are contested. The material in this book provides in-depth alternatives to the sanitised, traditional approach to the black civil rights movement. This includes a detailed look at black protest before and after the movement began and a wide range of perspectives and interpretations of these events. One of the intentions of this book is to show students that history is not always set in stone, straightforward, or cut and dried. In other words, it is complex and can be contested. This   should make the study of racism in the USA (and its relevance to New Zealand) more interesting for students. 8.2: Understand trends Understand how trends over time reflect social, economic and political forces. The material in this book provides an in-depth look at the forces – political, economic, social and religious – that are inherent in the study of racism in the USA. An example of this is the assumption by some whites that they are inherently superior to African-Americans and how this conviction was used as a political justification for de jure and de facto racism in the USA. Achievement standards: NCEA level 1, 2 and 3 With the new curriculum, students must now be able to relate historical material to New Zealand in order to gain excellence in all levels except for AS 1.5. What students need to realise is that this does not mean the other assessment standards at levels 6, 7 and 8 have to focus entirely on New Zealand. Rather, meaningful connections must be made. As an example of this, the material in this book recognises that racism is a global issue. It provides opportunities to compare and contrast racism in the USA with racism in New Zealand and elsewhere. One of the strengths of this book is that it provides ample opportunities to compare and contrast. Key competencies Thinking, using language, relating to others, participating and contributing Principles High expectations, Treaty of Waitangi, cultural diversity, inclusion, community engagement, learning to learn, coherence, future focus High expectations The way Public Image Private Shame is written, students are afforded the opportunity to study this material over successive years and in more depth, going as far as they wish or are able. Treaty of Waitangi Like the United States, New Zealand has a founding document and like the people of the United States, we should understand its original intention and use it to inform and shape us as a people and nation. Public Image Private Shame: Introduction for teachers
  5. 5. viivi Cultural diversity, inclusion and community engagement Like the United States, New Zealand is increasingly becoming a melting pot of different races and cultures. Clearly there are challenges associated with this, but this book gives innumerable examples of a better way in which families, whanau and communities can engage in working through these issues in a non-discriminatory, inclusive way. Learning to learn This book provides activities and digging deeper exercises that will hone the students’ ability to learn. The wonder of learning to learn is that these skills are transferable to other areas of a student’s everyday life. Coherence and future focus Finally, Public Image Private Shame provides a springboard for digging deeper into the issue of racism. In particular, it provides students with an opportunity to explore racism as a continuing issue. As they focus on the future, students can determine for themselves what kind of citizen they want to be in regard to this issue. Values Equity, community and participation, integrity, respect The material in this book is constantly challenging students to dig deeper into the causes and consequences of racism as a moral, ethical, religious and community issue that involves real people in the here and now. Throughout the book, the student can consider where they stand on issues raised. They can also imagine other viewpoints. The book also encourages the student to address racism as an individual.    The greatest part of researching and writing Public Image Private Shame is that I have been assisted in the task by a range of wonderful people. I am thankful that I can acknowledge them now for I am truly indebted for their help, encouragement and friendship: To Pearson for asking me to write this book. Fulbright New Zealand for their very generous scholarship to study in the US in 2007. Jude Thomsen from the Whangarei District Council whose introduction to the US Ambassador in 2008 resulted in a study opportunity in the USA. The US Embassy in Wellington, and especially Richard Benge, for arranging for me to travel to the USA to undertake research for my book in 2009 as a recipient of a State Department International Visitor Leadership Program. Professor Stan and Anita Howard in Chicago, who have become dear friends and mentored me through the writing of this book. Their wisdom and insights have been invaluable. To Minnijean Brown-Trickey and Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine, Joanne Bland, a child participant in the Selma Voter Registration Campaign, and Grif Stokely, for allowing me to interview them and for their encouragement in writing this book. To Hugh Freemantle for organising my research programme and accompanying me, to ensure I got to where I needed to go, on time. To Kelly French in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Elizabeth Silvermann in Memphis, for putting together my research programme while visiting the USA in 2009. To Barack and Cynthia Gibson and members of the Freedom Foundation in Selma, Alabama, for hosting my students and me while we were visiting in Selma. I want to thank the Board of Kamo High School, our Principal Bernie Taffs, and my HOD Phil Reynolds for allowing me to travel to the USA on scholarships and for my research and to those staff who stood in for me while I was away. A special thanks to my history students, who allowed me to bounce ideas off them, especially Louise Nagel and Sarah Penwarden, who read each chapter and offered suggestions and changes. A special thanks to Eve Tonkin, the creative editor of this book. I am so grateful that Pearson teamed us up, for the truth is I could not have done without Eve’s suggestions, insights, promptings, and endless commitment to the final shape of this book. Finally, a big thanks to my wife Caroline, who was exceptionally patient and understanding; I could not have done without her encouragement and support. Dedication To our daughter, Hannah Ruth, who we lost to an inoperable brain tumour at the tender age of 18 on 21 June 2008. I thought of her often as I wrote this book because she was not only the most precious and wonderful daughter, she was a person who walked beyond the colour line. She also had a deep sense of justice and had a heart for the marginalised; many of whom ended up staying the weekend at our place at Hannah’s invitation. MONEY Acknowledgements
  6. 6. 1viii Foreword from civil rights activists and others In the summer of 2007 I was given the wonderful pleasure of meeting Mr Roydon Agent. Roydon was one of the 30 teachers from around the world visiting the United States to learn its history and culture. As a professor of political science specialising in civil rights and civil liberties, it was part of my duties to enlighten these travellers on how American racial minorities have used the political and legal system to fight for the equal rights guaranteed all Americans within the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. Without equivocation I am able to report that even after so many years have passed, the lectures that I offered this particular group remain vivid in my mind. And I am equally certain that the uppermost reason for this is because Roydon was a member of the group. The breadth and depth of knowledge on the black civil rights movement he brought to these classes was simply amazing. It was like he had personally lived the experience. He was always curious and inquisitive, and developed a reputation for providing cogent analysis. His classmates and I were also impressed by the level of empathy and genuine concern he showed for the dispossessed suffering within the human family. It is for these reasons that I celebrate his latest work, Public Image Private Shame. He has added immensely to the scholarship on this important period in American life, and students and teachers in his homeland of New Zealand, America and around the world will be richer because of it.  Dr Stan Howard,   Founder and President of the Law and Civics Reading and Writing Institute for Urban Males  This work by Roydon Agent seeks to fill a void in the conscious awareness of all those who have not yet developed a world view predicated upon the notion of accepting all others as peers in the universe. His insights and wisdom, on display in bold font, metaphorically, are not to be missed. I recommend this book without the slightest degree of hesitation. Terrence J Roberts, PhD Little Rock Nine I am excited about this work by Roydon. Our first meeting was in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009. As part of his research he interviewed me about my experiences at Central High School. His questions demonstrated both his in-depth knowledge about the crisis, as well as his keen interest in getting the story right. Roydon impressed me as a person who wanted to understand my story and the issues I faced as one of the nine black students at Little Rock Central High in 1958. Last year I also had the immense pleasure of meeting several of his history students when they came to Little Rock as part of their civil rights tour. Those students were very knowledgeable, purposeful and gracious. It was a special pleasure to discuss the civil rights movement with them. Finally, I want to endorse Roydon’s book, Public Image Private Shame. Knowing him as I do, I know the book will deal honestly with the truth of complex issues. That will be a breath of fresh air. I heartily recommend Roydon’s book. Minnijean Brown-Trickey  Little Rock Nine In 2010, I, along with 11 other history students from Kamo High School, travelled to the United States on a civil rights tour. I have to admit that my decision was last minute and came after several promptings from history teacher Roydon Agent. Time would prove that it was one of the best decisions I have made. I had lost interest in school and had all but given up hope of going to university; the trip changed that. Thanks to Roydon, his love of history and of his students, the trip genuinely changed the direction of my life. His knowledge of the racial issues so long a part of the American way of life, and his access to amazing people like Stan and Anita Howard, civil rights legends Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Fred Gray, Mr and Mrs Graetz, and members of Selma’s Freedom Foundation, as well as visiting historical places, brought history alive for me. I want to commend Public Image Private Shame to you as a book that will challenge your thinking because it addresses many of the issues that have often been glossed over or   ignored completely. Majka Cherrington Waikato University law student From the author When I first researched Public Image Private Shame in 2006, I never imagined that my research would take me to the United States several times, and give me the opportunity to meet key leaders and grassroots activists from the civil rights movement of the 1950s to mid-1975. It has been a rich experience that has deeply impacted my life on many levels. While it has been a thrill to travel to historic places, it is the American people whom I have befriended that have been most memorable. At the risk of being accused of name dropping, I have had the great privilege of having met and spent time with movement legends John Lewis, Julian Bond, Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Joanne Bland, Samuel ‘Billy’ Kyles and Carlotta Walls LaNier. In addition, I have also had the joy of meeting a raft of people – black and white – who were grassroots activists in the movement. Hearing President Barack Obama speak at the NAACP centenary in 2009 was a particular highlight. Throughout my travels in the USA, I have been overwhelmed by support for the writing of my book. Initially I was tentative, believing that as an outsider looking in I was therefore not sufficiently qualified to write on the subject; not only that, I was committed to writing a text that was radically different from anything else I had seen. Certainly I did not want it to be a sanitised version, and was deeply committed to raising questions and addressing issues that have been traditionally relegated to the ‘too hard basket’. I am deeply indebted to my American friends who were so tolerant and supportive of my quest in achieving this goal. Finally, this journey has caused me to search my own heart as to how I might better address the prejudices in my own life. Of course, this is the hope of this book, that you the reader, the student of history, will do the same. The key to that is being committed to a cause that is bigger and more important than ourselves, or as the good book says, ‘to love your neighbour as you would love yourself’. In this worthy endeavour I pray you will have great courage. Roydon Agent 2 May 2011
  7. 7. 32 Wehaveworkedinyourfields,andgarneredyourharvests,fortwohundredand fiftyyears!Andwhatdoweaskofyouinreturn?Doweaskyouforcompensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you? … We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you now for our rights. State Representative Henry McNeal Turner to the Georgia House of Representatives, 1886 1 Racism in America T he America of the 1950s was different in many ways to the America of today. The widespread social revolt of the 1960s changed American society a great deal. This chapter introduces what life was like for African-Americans in the 1950s. According to people who were at the grocery store, Emmett responded to a dare from local boys and asked the white woman behind the counter for a date. She ran to get a handgun kept in her car outside. Surprised by her reaction he left, giving her a joking whistle. Three days later, two white men (the woman’s husband and a friend) dragged Emmett from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally, tied him to a heavy fan with barbed wire and then shot him fatally in the head. Three days later his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. Although Till’s killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. The federal government decided not to interfere in the state ruling, and the killers were never prosecuted. Till’s killers sold their story to Look magazine, explaining how they originally intended to ‘whup’ the boy, but his defiance and perspective on white women made them decide to kill him. One of the killers, Ray Milliam, told the magazine reporter: [Till said to us] ‘You bastards, I’m not afraid of you. I’m as good as you are. I’ve “had” white women. My grandmother was a white woman.’ Well, what else could we do? [Till] was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers – in their place – but I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Ray Milliam, The murder and the trial made headlines all around the world. Many Americans felt that Till deserved his treatment. Countless others were horrified. For many African-Americans in particular, Till’s murder was ‘the last straw’ and it led them to join the growing revolt against the society that allowed this to happen. For others already involved in the civil rights struggle, it was an incentive to keep on fighting, continuing the long struggle begun by their ancestors in America’s past. The jury in court Till’s killers in court Useful words de facto segregation informal racial separation de jure segregation legal racial separation hegemony control or domination by a person or group over another group, society or nation heretics people who dissent from established religious dogma, particularly Roman Catholicism irony the expression of meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect nigger an offensive term for black people, historically used by white racists to denigrate African-Americans (the derivative ‘nigga’ is currently used by some blacks to describe themselves) segregated set apart from one another; here black people kept separate from white people sociologist one who formally studies the way human society develops and functions terra incognita unexplored regions This chapter asks: • What was the growing movement for black civil rights seeking to change? • Why was America this kind of society? Emmett Till’s America In August 1955, a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till was murdered by white men for whistling at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. ‘Money – a good place to raise a boy’ read the sign on the edge of town. Eight days after arriving there from Chicago to visit his southern relatives, Emmett was dead. Emmett Till
  8. 8. 54 Thinking it over 1 Look at the photograph of Till’s killers in court. The accused seem relaxed and confident. What would you put their confidence down to? 2 Who do you feel sympathetic with when reading the narrative above? Why? 3 When historians study events like the one you have just read about, they ask questions to find out what caused the event, like the following. • How could such a thing have happened? • How could people do what they did? They also ask questions to find out how the event caused change. Come up with some specific questions of your own that might help you understand more about Emmett Till’s murder and its aftermath. Institutional racism In 1950s America, Emmett Till’s world was different to that of a white boy his age. White racism was widespread and an inherent part of society. Black Americans did not have the same opportunities or civil rights as white people. White crimes against African-Americans often went unpunished, particularly in the American south.   There are a number of measures and recorded trends that show the position of African-Americans in the US during the 1950s. Education In many states of the USA, education opportunities for African-Americans were restricted to segregated schools, colleges and universities. Black students attended blacks- only schools, which received less funding per student than white schools, and black students spent less time at school than their white counterparts. Employment African-Americans in the 1950s were proportionally under- represented in professional and managerial occupations and over-represented in the fields of: • domestic and service occupations (63.6% of black women and 11.2% of black men) • low-skilled labouring (15.4% of black women and 57.4% of black men). In the south, 75% of the African-American population was in unskilled jobs. The corresponding white proportion was   about 25%. Income The income levels for the African-American population were consistently below those of the white population during the 1950s. • In 1952, the median income for white males was $3507 per year. For African-American males it was $2038. • 61% of African-American incomes were less than $3000. Only 28% of whites were at a similar level. • In 1953, the family median income for whites was $4392. For African-Americans it was $2461. Because these figures were calculated nationally, they do not show that for African-Americans living in the south, incomes were usually significantly lower than the median. Health                  The quality of black health care was significantly lower than that of white American health care in Emmett Till’s day. For example, the national infant mortality rate among African-Americans in 1950 was 43.9 deaths per 1000 live births, while for whites the rate was 26.8 deaths. Many African-Americans could not afford doctors, and most white-owned hospitals practised segregation. ‘Black’ wards were understaffed and poorly equipped. Black doctors found it almost impossible to get ahead. A 1952 report written by the Women’s Committee to End Discrimination in Medical Services noted that in Detroit hospitals the lives of African-Americans were put in jeopardy because of discrimination. How much state/county funding each student received in 1953 in the southern states State White school Black school Mississippi $98.15 $43.17 Arkansas $99.08 $71.78 Louisiana $165.08 $122.07 Alabama $112.00 $105.00 Claredon – South Carolina $179.00 $43.00 Law In the southern states At the end of the 19th century, southern states had enacted de jure segregation legislation that became popularly known as ‘Jim Crow’ laws (see pp 31–33 for more about these laws). These laws created a racially segregated society throughout the south. Jim Crow laws were accompanied by a climate of violence to keep the ‘nigger’ in his place. While I am black I am a human being,and therefore I have the right to go intoany public place. White people didn’t knowthat. Every time I tried to go into a placethey stopped me. A nation that continues year after year tospend more money on military defence thanon programs of social uplift is approachingspiritual doom. Stokely Carmichael, black rights leader Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr, black civil rights leader In the northern states While Jim Crow laws did not appear in the north, discrimination did exist in what is referred to as de facto segregation. In major cities of the north this resulted in the following: • Black ghettos emerged, as landlords in better areas would not rent homes to black people. • Schools and colleges were linked to neighbourhoods, with many of these schools and colleges becoming ‘blacks only’ schools. • African-Americans faced discrimination in the job market. • A lack of education and opportunity made it difficult for African-Americans to climb the economic or employment ladder to better themselves. 1963 cartoon by Herbert Block commenting on the difficulty faced by black doctors who experienced discrimination and were restricted to segregated wards despite their qualifications
  9. 9. 76 Politics While black Americans could vote in the north in the 1950s, they had no political representation and so many did not bother. In the south, black voting was actively prevented by local state laws and by the threat of white violence. Because so few African-Americans voted it meant: • few held offices in the local or state government (as sheriffs, court officials, etc.) • the majority of white politicians were determined to maintain the political status quo of white domination. Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr, I Have a Dream We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. The percentage of blacks registered to vote in 1954 State % State % Alabama 11 Arkansas 36 Florida 32                   Georgia  27 Louisiana 31 Mississippi 5 North Carolina 24 South Carolina 27 Tennessee 29 Virginia 19 Thinking it over 1 Create a mind map that shows what the black civil rights movement was fighting to change in the 1950s. 2 Re-read Ray Milliam’s statement to the reporter from Look magazine on p 3. Find evidence of Milliam’s perspective on the civil rights movement. Do you see evidence that this perspective influenced how he treated Till? 3 Take a look at the following cartoon, which appeared on the front of a postcard inviting the reader to join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a multi-racial group against white racism, in January 1956. Answer the following questions. Cartoon analysis Historians often study political cartoons because they can provide invaluable information on historical events, issues and ideas. They include caricatures of key people and the subtle and not-so-subtle use of words, phrases, speech and symbols to convey pertinent and powerful messages. • There are at least two ways in which the cartoonist depicts the unequal relationship between the white man and black boy. Can you identify them? • How does the cartoonist convey the seriousness of Emmett Till’s breaking of the social conventions expected of African- Americans towards southern women? • What irony is evident in this cartoon? • If you were an African-American living in the south at the time, would this cartoon make you want to join the NAACP, or would it intimidate you into staying out of any political movement? The roots of racism Skin colour, or race, is the superficial measure used   by some for hundreds of years to define who we are and our place in society. To understand how Emmett Till could have been murdered and his killers acquitted, we need to understand the racism that has divided African- Americans from white Americans from the time they first came into contact with one another. The nature of this division has changed over time, but it continues to shape people’s perspectives and life experience in America today. The rest of this chapter asks what caused this division. The concept of ‘race’ There are many complex reasons for white racism in America, but the key cause is the belief in ideas of ‘racial difference’ and ‘racial superiority’ that evolved in Europe and England long before Christopher Columbus first sailed to America. From historical writings, we find evidence that people in Europe and England held folk superstitions (mostly negative) about groups seen as ‘different’. Soon these superstitions were linked to physical features, and a belief in ideas of ‘race’, ‘racial difference’ and ‘racial superiority’ emerged – or the belief that groups can be categorised by physical features and ranked as superior and inferior to one another. Several historical factors intensified English ideas of their own racial superiority between 1500   and 1900. Colonialism at home From the 15th century onwards, the English began to intensify their efforts to colonise nearby Ireland. In their desire to achieve political hegemony, the English implemented policies of forced colonisation, exploitation of local labour, systematic extermination and forced removal to the New World colonies for prisoners of war and political troublemakers. The English began to apply the idea of racial superiority to the Irish. Media of the time often described the Irish as ‘savages’ without morals, ungodly and incapable of being civilised, and depicts them as angry and ape-like. Colonialism in the ‘New World’ The 15th century to the early part of the 17th century was known as the ‘Age of Discovery’ or the ‘Age of Exploration’. In that time, European explorers discovered Africa, the Americas, and, a little later, Asia and Oceania. By the 15th century, European explorers had discovered what they called the ‘New World’ of Africa and the Americas. One of the great myths of American history – and remember, a myth doesn’t have to be right to be believed – is that, like Christopher Columbus, the first English colonists believed that Old English superstitions about ‘race’ • Gypsies are sneaky, volatile and liable to criminality. • Jews are parsimonious and money grabbing. • Irish are drunkards of only sub-human intelligence. • People with red hair are irrational, volatile and violent (this superstition began as an English categorisation of the Scots). • English are sensible, rational and decent. James Loewen, an American sociologist said in 1995 that, ‘Perhaps the most pervasive theme in our history is the domination of black America by white America. Race is the sharpest and deepest division in American life’ (Lies Our Teachers Told Us, p 136). Caleb Agent, 2010
  10. 10. 98 the United States of America was a ‘tabula rasa’ or ‘blank state’ of boundless virgin territory. In their eyes, this tabula rasa held immense wealth and could be claimed by anyone to use according to their wishes (whether economic, political, social or religious). For the next 400 years, European powers competed to penetrate this terra incognita, and to establish colonies there. The idea of racial superiority became a justification for the often brutal conquest and exploitation of indigenous peoples. These ideas reached their height in the 18th and 19th centuries as colonisation intensified. Religion In the 15th century, the Catholic Church had a cast iron hold over Spain, one of Europe’s most powerful nations and a primary colonising power. The Catholic Inquisition persecuted Jews and Moors (North Africans) in an attempt to eliminate religious ‘heretics’ and those from other ‘races’ or ‘castes’ (castas). This played a very real part in the development of notions of white superiority and greatly influenced the level of extreme brutality that the Catholic Spanish showed the Native Americans from the earliest days of their arrival in the Americas. Even the Catholic and Protestant missionaries who went to the ‘New World’ in peace sought to transform the ‘savages’ there into ‘Christian folk’. Science Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, many European and English scientists focused on classifying the natural and human world. Blumenbach (1789) identified different human groups based on skull measurements and skin colour, but he made no value judgements about these groupings. This came later in the 19th century when some scientists applied Charles Darwin’s ideas of evolution as a competitive biological struggle between species for existence to human beings. These scientists became known as ‘Social Darwinists’ because they applied Darwin’s biological idea to human social life, ranking different racial groups on a scale from least to most civilised, with whites at the pinnacle of evolution. (Darwin himself was opposed to such thinking. He saw humankind as one species.) These scientists also used it to justify oppression of non-whites by whites as ‘the survival of the fittest’ in action. John Elliot preaching to the Indians This chapter has introduced the fact that American society has been characterised by a ‘division’ between blacks and whites since its earliest days, and by ‘the domination of black America by white America’. Central to this domination has been the belief in white racial superiority that Europeans and the English brought to America from the beginning. Chapter 2 will look in more detail at how white racism went hand-in-hand with the black experience in early America. Summary A drawing from Josiah C Nott and George Gliddon’s Indigenous Races of the Earth (1857), which ranked black people between white people and chimpanzees in terms of intelligence. 2 Slavery and resistance Few systems of mass exploitation have been as devastating or as effective in triggeringphysicalandintellectualhostilitiesasthetransatlanticslavetradeand the institutions [of slavery and segregation] following in its wake. Norrece T Jones Jr, historian (Essays on African-American History, Culture and Society, p 78) T he transatlantic slave trade began in the early 15th century and continued until the 19th century. Dutch settlers brought the first African slaves to America in the early 1600s. Africans (mostly from West Africa) were captured from their homes and sent to the Americas as slaves to work for white colonials. By the mid-1700s, most Africans were being shipped to what is now the United States. According to historian James O Horton, by 1860 the dollar value of slaves ‘was greater than the dollar value of all the banks, all the railroads, all the manufacturing facilities of this nation put together’. Over the next two hundred years, the USA was transformed into the biggest slave nation in the world, as somewhere around four million Africans formed the backbone on which the nation’s great wealth   was made. In this chapter you will consider: • What was slavery and why did   it happen? • How did slaves and others survive and resist slavery? • What were the key consequences   of slavery? Useful words abolitionist people committed to bringing an end to slavery Black Codes Laws passed in the US (in the south and north) after the Civil War, to restrict the freedom of former slaves feudal a historical, political and social system, where ordinary people were given land and protection by a lord; in return they worked and fought for him indentured contracted labour paternalism following a paternalistic approach paternalistic father-like authority exercised in a way that limits individual responsibility racial profiling use of race to justify the use of slavery solidarity unity