The Goals And Failures Of The First — страница 5

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Wilson provides a more coherent explanation of the demise of the Civil Rights Movement. Wilson says the movement failed because it did not effectively address the economic plight of inner city Blacks living in the North. This failure was caused by the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement which had little connection with Blacks in the ghetto. The leaders of the movement were from the Southern middle-class Blacks; who were either college students, teachers, preachers, or lawyers.41 Like the leaders of the First Reconstruction, the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement lacked understanding of the economic needs of the Black lower-class. Instead of addressing the economic plight of Northern Black ghettoes, the Civil Rights Movement continued to push for broad political and civil

rights. Inhabitants of Northern Ghettoes, were trapped not by Jim Crow, but by poverty and de facto segregation. Nonviolent protests, marches, pickets, and rallies did nothing to change poorhousing, lack of employment, and inferior schools. However, the Civil Rights Movement’s battles to end Jim Crow in the South and obtain passage of Civil Rights acts in the 1960’s raised awareness of lower- class Blacks in the ghetto to racism and increased their impatience with police brutality and economic injustice. This heightened awareness of racism in their community and desperation over their plight, turned poor urban Blacks into matches and ghettoes into kindling. The Riots from 1965 to 1968 became a way to raise economic issues the Civil Rights Movement had ignored. The Riots were

caused, not just by desperation, they had been desperate for years, not just by a heightened awareness of racism, they had been aware of it before 1965, but because they found no answers to their plight. Neither White politicians nor civil rights leaders had solutions for their economic needs.42 Wilson’s analysis thus far provides as answer for the riots and subsequent White backlash. However, Wilson’s explanation of the emergence and appeal of Black Power is lacking. Wilson says Black Power’s emergence was caused by riots in the summers from 1965 to 1968. But these riots occurred after Black Power had emerged inside the Civil Rights Movement. In the spring of 1965 the leadership of SNCC and CORE had expelled its White members, rejected integration as a goal, and elected

black separatists as presidents.43 Instead, I see the emergence of the Black Power Movement as related to the failure of the Civil Rights Movement to address lower-class frustration with economic injustice, and de facto racism in the North. Black Power, as a movement, had many facets and leaders. Black Power leaders were from the lower-class while the Civil Rights Movements leaders were from the middle-class. Stokely Carmichael, a poor immigrant from Trinidad; Eldridge Cleaver, the son of a Texas carpenter, and went to jail for rape44; Huey Newton, before becoming a political leader, was a hustler. Other leaders such as Angela Davis gravitated to the movement because of its mix of Marxist and nationalist economic politics.45 The rise of these leaders was a result of the Civil

Rights Movement’s failure before 1965, to articulate a program of racial justice for poor Blacks in the North; in this absence violent, vocal and angry leaders emerged to fill this void. Leaders such as H. Rap Brown called for “killing the honkies,” James Brown called for Black pride with his song “Say It Loud- I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Black Power provided poor Blacks with psychological and economic solutions to their problems. Psychologically it brought about a shift in Black consciousness a shift that made being Black beautiful, no longer as W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1905 were Blacks a “Seventh Son.” But equally important the Black Power Movement tried to provide economic answers to urban Blacks with answers such as: racial separatism, moving back to Africa,

taking over the government, and taking “what was theirs” from whites. Although these solutions ultimately proved unworkable for solving economic problems, they tried, while the Civil Rights movement did not attempt solutions. The failure of the Civil Rights Movement in articulating and pursuing a plan of economic justice for lower-class Blacks doomed the movement’s goal of integration, furthering de facto segregation in housing and schools. The end of Jim Crow did not end the income difference between Whites and Blacks. In 1954, Blacks earned approximately 53% of what whites earned, and in 1980 they earned 57% what an average White earns. At this rate racial equality in average income would come in 250 years.46 This racial inequality in income left unaddressed by the Civil