In the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement was changing the World. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders in the movement passively fought for the rights of all mankind (Farber, 1994). In August of 1963, King delivered a speech in which he spoke of his dream. This dream “rooted in the American dream”(King, 1963). A dream of equal rights for all people; black, white, Jew and gentile, all humankind no matter their beliefs or their color. As I moved from the Midwest to the Old West I contemplated the changes that have occurred since the Civil Rights Movement and thought about the words Dr. King spoke.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a dream where “ his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (King, 1963). In the 1960s many schools were still segregated. White folks were friends with white folks and people of other ethnic backgrounds were not welcome in many establishments and were not seen in relationships with other races. This could be seen with the blacks in the South and the Hispanic and Native Americans in the West (Farber, 1994). Today it is obvious we have come a long way. Many of the people I know come from many different backgrounds. My daughters friends are African-American, Hispanic, and Indonesian. My niece and nephew have quite a few Hispanic and African-American friends. In the World today many different races are free to be friends and not be ridiculed.
This post card of a Mobile service station in 1963 is only missing the McDonalds and Subway stores attached to the Pilot in Higginsville, MO. Although the gas and service station of yesteryear were somewhat different to the fueling stations of today there was one major difference that caught the attention of those who joined the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s blacks were not always allowed to patronize many of these establishments and even when they were allowed to “fuel up” the service they received was often poor. Some stations in the North would employ persons of color for low wages to do menial work, such as washing cars (Farber, 1994). The Pilot that I stopped at to refuel had three employees that I seen. An African-American man and a Hispanic woman were working at the counter for the fueling station and a Native-American women was working at the Subway counter. In fact almost everywhere I stopped on my trip from Southeastern Illinois to Southeastern Colorado I seen people from every ethnicity working, going about their day, and traveling.
It is obvious from this magazine advertisement for Coca-Cola that inter-racial relationships were not common in the 1960s. Today couples come in many varieties and it is not something looked down upon by most people. From these photos of my friends and family it may be hard what races are portrayed. In the upper-left is my little sister and my brother-in-law. He is Native-American and Italian but many people think he is of Hispanic decent. Nest is my brother and his wife. She is Hispanic, her family is from Mexico. In the center are two of my friends. Her family is of Irish background and his family came from Mexico. He has hazel eyes and light brown hair under that hat and is considered a Guerro or white Mexican, which comes from the Spanish bloodline found in much of Central America. The bottom-right is a picture of me and my fiancé. You may not be able to tell but his father was half Native Alaskan. His mother’s background was similar to mine, Caucasian from Northern and Western Europe. Since the ages of the individuals in these photos range from 27 to 47 years it would seem evident that in the past 50 years inter-racial relationships have become more common place.
Here is a look at Olathe, Kansas in the 1960s and a view from just last week. There are a few cars on the main road back in the 1960s but I would doubt many were owned by people other than whites. Maybe a black man owned a car but the majority of people who could achieve the American Dream were white. A job, a tenement, a good school for their kids were not easily attainable for African-Americans in the 1960s so a automobile was not a luxury for all men. The guarantee written into the Constitution and Declaration of Independence was not held up for all humankind. In the 1960s many individuals were held back from the “rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that was written for all of the people of the United States of America. The inter-section in Olathe the other day had many faces in the cars going by. Every American has the opportunity to achieve their own success, although it does come free we do have the right to pursue our dreams.
Notice this picture in the middle here. Is it obvious which family these kids are a part of? The little girl and the three boys to the immediate right are siblings, the boy on the end is their cousin. The man in the photo in the upper-right is the 4 kids father and the boy is the same boy sitting next to the girl . In the upper left we have three little girls, one is the step-daughter of the man (my brother-in-law) in the photo and the other two girls are his nieces. The women in the bottom two photos is my mother. She is standing with my sister-in-law in the one photo and with her grandchildren in the other. In my family we accept all people based on who they are not the color of their skin.
Professor Chris Mullard, one of the UK's leading academics on race relations and chairman of Focus Consultancy states that "Racism is institutionalised because it's deeply embedded within the prejudices of a society. And it's those prejudices and deep psychological feelings that allow racism to be legitimised” (Casciani, N.D.). As I traveled I see no sign of racism. I do not know who colored the rail cars and cannot assume that the letters that resemble the writing in Low Rider Magazine were painted by a Hispanic person. There just really is no knowing. As the World becomes more diverse and globalization occurs maybe the racism that still exists will be a thing of the past. In the 1960s graffiti was mainly seen in subways but now it can be seen across the U.S. on trains and walls. It is an art form that started in the late 1960s and became a way to be noticed. Now there are “taggers” competing for notoriety by having the most awesome designs and colours.
The average American family in the 1960s was pictured as above. The average being the middle-class white American family. Today families can have many ethnicities that make them. Take a look at my family which includes Native Americans and Hispanics. My niece and nephew have a step-mother that is Hispanic and step-father that is half Native American. My own daughters have a step-mother whose family came from Vietnam in the 1950s. In my extended family we have many ethnicities. We believe that we are all brothers and sisters no matter how different we may look and sometimes behave. Our cultures and traditions blend. We share who we are, work together, and we live together in harmony.
Some places seem like they have never changed. I arrived in Mancos, CO after driving through many small mountain towns that are becoming cities to find that this town has changed very little. The sign coming into town tells me that the West is still alive, but I see that it has become a place where many peoples live together. The Native Americans here are mainly Ute and own many businesses, such as the laundry and the little café that sells fry bread. There are Mexicans, Natives, and whites all walking together and eating together. No one seems to take notice of the ethnic differences and the cultural differences seem to have blended beautifully. In the laundry window are a couple notices from the Kaleidoscope Wellness Center one for African inspired dance and the other for yoga. I will definitely have to check out the Kaleidoscope Wellness Center.
I traveled through four states and seen no signs of discrimination. Every café, rest area, and gas station I stopped at had people of many colors working and patronizing the establishments. I believe that humankind has realized that we are all one species no matter our outward differences. As I traveled one image kept coming to mind, the Tucson Portrait Project at the 4th Ave bridge. Every race seems to be on this mosaic of picture tiles. I love that even a rooster is seen as a part of the community and so is a dog (one row up and sixth from the right). I have visited a dozen states in the past 25 years and notice Tucson is one of the most beautiful “melting pots” in America. Several places I have been I can say for certainty that I seen no racial conflict, but sometimes it does occur. Maybe most of the discrimination today is done in a oh-so-quite manner so that we do not realize it is there. I do not see it in the government agencies that are in place to serve the needs of the people. I do not see it in the public places I visit where people from every race work. I do not see it in our schools. It does not mean it is not there.
Today we are still fighting for equal right s for everyone. The gay and lesbian rights movement has been going on for years. Society has also been in conflict over the rights of the unborn child. Now America has taken the Christian God out of many of our foundations and there are people upset about it. But as the little girl on the billboard pleads, let me “choose for myself.” In America we have always had freedom of religious choice yet we have maintained to hold the Christian God above others. We cannot continue to do so in a country where we welcome all peoples from all over the World with many different cultural and religious backgrounds. Civil rights movements are about and always have been about choice. It is the individual who decides what and who they are. The t-shirt in the middle of this page even asks a more profound question of the people who oppose abortion, ‘will you fight for the rights of gays?’. As people in the community have said over and over, they are born homosexual and it is not a choice. Maybe we should take a queue from the man in the right-hand corner and give rights to all people equally.
Kitchen j ss310-13-unit4project
Jennifer KitchenKaplan University SS310-13 Prof. Mitchell
ReferencesCasciani, D., ( N.D.). Analysis: institutional racism dead? BBC News. Retrieved fromhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7838071.stm .Farber, D. , (1994). The age of great dreams: America in the 1960s. New york: Hill and Wang.King, M. L. Jr., (1963). I have a dream speech.