The Goals And Failures Of The First — страница 4

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governments which allocated limited if any funds.29 Although proposed by a few Republicans the Freedmen’s Bureau also refused to set a minimum wage in the South to ensure that former slaves received a fair wage from their former slave masters. Instead, the Freedmen’s Bureau was instrumental in spearheading the formation of sharecropping by encouraging both former slaves and plantation owners to enter into sharecropping agreements.30 By the time the Bureau ceased operations in 1870, the sharecropping system was the dominant arrangement in the South. This arrangement continued the poverty and oppression of Blacks in the South. As one Southern governor said about sharecropping, “The Negro skins the land and the landlord skins the Negro.”31 The Freedmen’s Bureau missed a

great opportunity; had its mission been broadened, its funding increased, and its power been extended, it could have educated the Black population and guaranteed some type of land reform in the South. Because neither Thaddeus Stevens plan for land redistribution or an expansion of the Freedmen’s Bureau took place, Blacks were left after slavery much as they were before, landless and uneducated. In the absence of an economic base for Blacks, three forces moved in during the 1890’s wiping out the political successes of Reconstruction: the white sheets of White supremacy, the blue suits of politicians all too eager to unify whites with racism, and the black robes of the judiciary in cases like Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 stripped away Blacks’ social and political rights. The

Civil Rights movement came nearly ninety years after the First Reconstruction. The goals of the Second Reconstruction involved at first tearing down the legal Jim Crow of the South, but by the March on Washington in 1964 the goals had changed to guaranteeing all Americans equality of opportunity, integration both social and political, and the more amorphous goal of a biracial democracy.32 But the goals did not include the need to transform the economic condition of Blacks. Instead they emphasized the need to transform the political and social condition of Blacks.33 At the beginning, the Civil Rights Movement sought solutions to racial injustice through laws and used the Federal courts to secure them. The Supreme Court set the stage in 1954 with Brown vs. The Board of Education of

Topeka Kansas: the Brown decision focused the attention of dominant Black institutions such as CORE (Congress On Racial Equality) and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) on fighting the illegality of segregation in Congress and courts. Subsequent organizations that came to play larger roles in the Civil Rights Movement such as, SNCC (Students Non-violent Coordinating Committee) and SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council) fell into this same pattern– combating mainly legal segregation. Although they pioneered different tactics– sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, the goal was to focus attention on getting rid of Jim Crow.34 The Civil Rights movement, successfully pressured Congress and the President to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the

1965 Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Movement also brought about a fundamental shift in public opinion; de jure racial discrimination became a moral wrong for many Americans. The Civil Rights Movement by 1965 had broken the back of legal Jim Crow in the South. However, in the North, Blacks living under de facto segregation by economic and racist conditions. Segregated schools and housing were unaffected by the progress of the Civil Rights Movement.35 By the middle of 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had stalled; never recovering its momentum.36 C. Van Woodward views the failure of the Civil Rights Movement to realize its goals and its disintegration in the same myopic way he views the failure of the First Reconstruction. He points to three different events, from 1965 to 1968,

to explain the disintegration of the Civil Rights Movement: riots in urban areas which created a White backlasH47, the rise of racial separatism and extremism within the Civil Rights Movement and Black community, 38 and the Vietnam War which diverted White liberals’ attention. Woodward’s analysis fails to provide a broad perspective of why these events destroyed such a strong movement. There had been riots in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, yet these riots neither spread nor crippled the movement.39 Black separatism had been a vocal movement before 1965 in the form of the Nation of Islam.40 And mass opposition to the Vietnam War among White liberals did not pickup momentum until the late 1960’s after the Civil Rights Movement had stalled. On the other hand, William Julius