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History of Racism in America

The era of the civil rights movement mainly started in the 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963 is what I believe to be one of the greatest speeches of all time and one of the greatest advances for African American people. While this peaceful act was taking place, the Birmingham Police Commissioner made a bold decision and used powerful fire hoses and released police dogs to attack black civil rights activists. Although the civil rights activists made great pushes towards freedom, the greatest problem which remains in our great nation is that of Racism and/or Racial Profiling. Over the years, racism has been a growing problem in all parts of the United States. Back in the 60s, there were such problems as segregated schools, which meant only kids of certain colour could attend a certain school. Also, blacks had to drink from different bubblers and white kids did in some public places. There were many things and rules that were terribly wrong at this time.

The most current problem in today’s society is that which is called Racial Profiling. Racial Profiling is the discriminatory practice by police of treating blackness as an indication of possible criminality. This has been the most recent focus of legislative action. There has been a significant amount of coverage taking place in the media. This is referred to as media blackface. As far as the police go, racial profiling is pretty direct.

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The individual officers act on racial stereotypes against racial minorities, specifically African Americans. Also, this goes on in the media when a news channel might exaggerate or over-represent the number of black people when the subject at hand has something to do with some type of political punishment. The media tends to do this sometimes and many people get upset over this time of racial profiling.

Some examples of issues that are used to define blackface are the black drug abuser or drug dealer, a black criminal, blacks on welfare, and the black affirmative action recipient. The significance of this racial profiling is that whatever the issue may be – crime, welfare, or drug abuse; the people that are subjected to this belief that these types of issues are associated with African-Americans only.

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Some people are so naive that they say things such as the trait of blackness being associated with crime is an unfortunate reality that we face in our society today. I believe that idea is a complete misinterpretation. It goes to show that there are people in today’s world that have greater problems than racism itself. There have been many recent studies and stories in the mainstream news that are good examples of racial profiling.


If one was to look up the definition of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, one would see that it is a political, legal, and social struggle by black Americans to gain full citizenship rights and to achieve racial equality. Even if the person understands the definition, there is no way you can sum up what it really is in one sentence. Black Americans have been fighting for decades to gain their freedom and receive equal rights.

Most people tend to say that the whole movement began with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, and ended with the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But some say it has not yet ended. One thing is for sure, there have been many important groups of people and individuals that have influenced the march toward freedom and are important figures in United States history.

Segregation was an attempt that whites made in the south to separate the races in every aspect of life and to prove that they were superior to blacks. It became very common in most of the southern states. Reconstruction governments pass laws by opening up economic and political opportunities for blacks. Blacks had separate schools, parks, transportation, and restaurants. If this wasn’t already bad enough, they were poorly funded and had a much worse condition than that of whites. Blacks were also denied their voting rights.

In protest of the segregation, blacks attempted to create national organizations. In 1890 the National Afro-American League was formed; in 1905 the Niagara Movement; and in 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). One of the early leaders of the NAACP was W. E. B. DuBois, who started in 1910 by making powerful arguments in favour of protesting segregation. He was the editor of NAACP magazine. Also, in 1910 the National Urban League was formed to help blacks make the transition to urban and industrial life.

What is commonly referred to as the Sit-Ins is when in February of 1960, four black college students at North Carolina A&T began to protest racial segregation in restaurants by sitting in lunch counters that were primarily for whites and waited to be served. This triggered more sit-ins in the following days and weeks in North Carolina. This showed people that young blacks were determined to reject the idea of segregation and would do so openly. After the sit-ins, members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961.

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The Freedom Riders were both black and white people that travelled around the South in buses to test how effective the Supreme Courts’ decision was in 1960. The decision declared that segregation was illegal in bus stations that were open to interstate travel. When some buses reached Alabama, they were met by police forces and the buses were burnt and the riders were beaten severely. The violence that occurred attracted nation-wide attention to the Freedom Riders.

President John F. Kennedy’s administration proceeded to protect the Freedom Riders. The Freedom Riders then continued on to Jackson, Mississippi where they were stopped, arrested, and thrown into jail, ending the protest. The importance of these Freedom Riders, although they were not very successful in changing a lot of segregation, they showed just how hard people were willing to work and how far they would go to reach their goals.

The March on Washington was arguably the most important event in the Civil Rights Movement. The national civil rights leadership decided that they were going to keep the pressure on the Kennedy administration and Congress to pass the civil rights legislation proposed by Kennedy. They planned the March on Washington for August of 1963. Members of the NAACP, CORE, SCLC, the Urban League, and the SNCC would all be present. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln. It is what I believe to be the most influential and important speech that any man has made to this day. Martin Luther King would later be assassinated.

Causes and Effects

In this particular issue, the causes and effects are directly connected. Whether it be the police forces or media that is portraying racial profiling or racism, it is seen by eyewitnesses and viewed on television and read in books. There have been many recent studies and stories in the mainstream news that are good examples of the effects that racism/racial profiling has on today’s society. The Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy (PLNDP) conducted a study in March of 1999. The PLNDP is a high-profile group of doctors composed of high ranked health officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.

They concluded that drug treatment was an effective health measure. The other section of the study showed, that despite the popular perception, drug addicts are not primarily black or members of minority racial groups. The study also discovered that more than half of those people which have admitted to using heroin in the last year were white and over 70 percent of monthly cocaine users are white. Maybe the most dominant statistic is the fact that almost 80 percent of regular marijuana users are white, only one in six being African-American.

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Yet another study was performed back in 1997 by Press and Politics, an academic journal. The study was labelled “Crime in Black and White: The Violent, Scary World of Local News.” It was done by UCLA professors Franklin Gilliam and Shanto Iyengar. They found that a local television station in Los Angeles, California, did coverage of crime which included two important messages: “Crime in violent and criminals are nonwhite.”

What the truth of the matter was, was that television viewers were so used to seeing black crime suspects on the local news that even when the race of a suspect was not revealed, the viewer tended to remember seeing a black suspect. This I believe is real bad. People should not have this view of African-American people.

The Future

After doing a great amount of research on the issue, I have learned that African-Americans have done everything possible to gain their freedom, and some people in today’s society still refuse to give that to them. This is why I cannot make a bold prediction as to what will go on in the future. One thing that makes me absolutely sick is the Klu Klux Klan. The KKK uses violence and threats against anyone who is suspected of favouring desegregation or black civil rights.

This is my main concern. Hate groups are terribly wrong. Hopefully, someday the people of this nation will realize that all men are created equal and not only African-Americans, but all ethnic groups deserve to have all of their rights and deserve to be treated equally.

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History of Racism in America. (2021, Feb 14). Retrieved February 7, 2023, from