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Martin Luther King

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Frederick H Birts Jr

U.S History since 1945

Professor Archdeacon

28 May 2005

During the 1960's the nature of the American social compact was shifting. With the growing presence of immigrants, who had migrated to America during the late 19th and early 20th century, America's social compact had changed. Jews, Irish and Italians were now finding themselves working as unskilled workers in a blue collar industrial New York. Together they were forming unions, to better their labor conditions and receive better benefits. As the makeup of this social background was changing, another revolution was taking place in America that was affecting the nature of the American social compact. Blacks were standing up for their civil rights and equal liberties. This stance was a universal theme circulating throughout African- American communities. The Ocean Hill Brownsville incident, in 1968, was just one example of the stance African-Americans were taking in hopes of at least establishing their own place among America's social compact.

The affects that slavery had on the African-American race are undescribable. African-Americans were deemed and treated as less than human during the slave era. After the end of the Slavery era, Blacks were granted certain freedoms. However, through laws called Black laws or Jim Crow laws, Blacks were not able to fully exercise the rights granted to them. Blacks were simply nothing in the eyes of White people and Whites would do anything to prevent Blacks ability to gain full freedom. By instilling fear in Blacks through savage beatings and killings Blacks were scared of standing up for themselves. This fear finally led to the organization of Black civil rights groups, such as the NAACP National Advancement for the Association of Colored people, designed to fight and help gain the liberties Blacks were denied. At this same time prominent leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm

X joined the fight in gaining equal rights for Blacks.

Many Blacks felt that perhaps America would change its policies and Blacks would eventually be granted equal civil rights. Through non-violent protest such as the Montgomery movement, freedom rides and sit-ins Blacks hoped these actions would help their cause. Unfortunately, Blacks were still being overlooked and the struggle for Blacks to gain their equal rights only became bigger. This marked the change in the movement of Blacks and their fight for equal rights. Blacks were set on gaining equal rights and if their protest and cries for freedom were being overlooked, Blacks would have to change the way they went about doing it. Blacks would no longer look for Whites to help their struggle, it was assumed if they were to ever gain freedom they would have to do it on their own.

Blacks now took on a new model, "Black Power" which was coined by Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmicahel. With groups like the Black Panthers, Blacks took on a more militaristic way of solving their racial problems. Now using a method of armed resistance blacks hoped to achieve equal rights, finally giving them their own place among the American social compact. Although Blacks took on this new way of fighting for their rights, their goals were still not being met. Race riots begin to take place all across America and the division between Blacks and Whites continued to grow. To highlight the tension that was already steadily brewing here in America, was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The death of King marked the end of the steady communication between Blacks and Whites and the end of a prominent figured who hoped to bridge the gap between Blacks and Whites.

Eventually the tension that was building here in America, between Blacks and Whites finally reached Ocean Hill Brownsville community.



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