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Introduction

Historically, African Americans were in a disadvantageous position compared to the dominant white majority. In fact, the history of the progression of African Americans and African American community in the US is the history of the ongoing struggle for better social and economic positions, basic human rights, equality and prevention of discrimination. This permanent struggle persists today and mirrors the advancements and gains of African Americans along with the persistent gap between African Americans and other minorities, on the one hand, and the white majority on the other. At the same time, on analyzing the history of the progression of African Americans, it is possible to trace the steady improvement of their socioeconomic and political position and consistent changes in the public consciousness in regard to African Americans and other minorities. In such a way, African Americans contributed consistently to the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the US, which made human rights the milestone of the US democracy, and the advancement of African Americans in their struggle for equal rights, liberties and opportunities in all spheres of life paved the way to other minorities in their struggle for the same purposes.
1865-1876

In Unit One, the life of African Americans was depicted as extremely difficult because it was the turning point in the life of African Americans and in the life of the entire country. In fact, it was the time when the Civil War ended and many African Americans as well as white abolitionists were very optimistic in regard to the further development of the US society and African American community (Braude, 2002). As the matter of fact, the abolition of slavery was one of the major goals of the Civil War and the victory of Northern states opened the way to the abolition of slavery nationwide. In such a situation, African Americans got an excellent opportunity to get freedom and equal rights and liberties compared to the white majority.

However, the optimism of African Americans and white abolitionists faded away soon after the end of the Civil War. Instead of the consistent improvement of their socioeconomic position, African Americans faced serious socioeconomic problems because they had nothing to build their wealth upon but their freedom (Franklin, 2001). As a result, they had to do the least paid job and to stumble in poverty. In addition, they still suffered from the severe discrimination from the part of the white majority, especially in South. Cases of lynching and violence against African Americans were frequent and their liberation had brought little changes in their low socioeconomic status for they hold the lowest position in the social hierarchy of the US.
1877-1920

Unit Two reveals the fact that the late 19th century was characterized by the persistence of racial terrorism. This was the hard time for African Americans because Ku-Klux-Klan grew stronger and stronger. Cases of lynching of African Americans were still frequent but African Americans remained defenseless in face of the severe violence from the part of the white majority because the authorities did not pay much attention to their rights and their position. In fact, they did not even have an opportunity to participate in the political life of the country.

In response to such a difficult position, African Americans had started the civil struggle and attempted to resist to the oppression from the part of the white majority. In such a way, the early 20th century witnessed the rise of the Civil Rights movement led by such outstanding representatives of African American community and civil rights activists as W.E.B. Dubois and F. Douglass. In the early 20th century, the Niagara Movement and National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with some other civil rights movements and African American organizations emerged. The NAACP was one of the most significant organizations of African Americans in the US. the NAACP was founded in 1909, Baltimore, Maryland and aimed at the improvement of the position of African Americans in the US society and protection of their civil rights and liberties. World War I revealed the importance of African Americans to the US society because they were recruited to the US army and participated in the war along with other Americans.
1921-1945

Unit three focuses on the development of African American community in the first half of the 20th century. The 1920s and the 1930s were characterized by the concentration of African Americans in large cities. In this time, Harlem and other inner city areas were formed in large American cities, such as New York, Chicago, and others. The economic crisis known as the Great Depression affected African Americans consistently because they were in a desperate position as they suffered from unemployment, poor job opportunities, and high crime rates in the inner city.

Nevertheless, in response to socioeconomic hardships, African Americans had managed to develop their own, original culture (Haley, 2007). The rise of the African American culture was known as the Harlem Renaissance. The emergence of African American culture proved that African Americans comprise an integral part of the US society, although they were in an inferior position compared to the whites because of persisting legal and socioeconomic inequality. Finally, World War II and involvement of African Americans proved that the US does need African Americans, who served in the US army as they did in the course of World War I.

1946-1976

Unit Four describes the post-World War period and the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the US. African Americans were still in the inferior position and they were severely oppressed by the white majority.
In response to such oppression, African Americans, being headed by such civil rights activists as M.L. King started the active struggle for their rights and liberties (Black, 2005). The 1950s-1960s were marked by the unparalleled mass struggle of African Americans for their civil rights and liberties. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1956) provoked by the arrest of Rosa Parks and segregation existing in the US.

Remarkably, civil rights activists attempted to use non-violent methods of struggle and civil disobedience. For instance, M.L. King spread his ideas and influenced the public opinion through his public speeches, such as “I Have a Dream” speech which he delivered on august 28, 1963 in Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This speech revealed his vision of the future US society as one nation when representatives of all races would be equal.
The emergence of the Civil Rights movement led to the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which laid the legal foundation for the equality of African Americans and other minorities and whites (Goldenberg, 1999). After the death of M.L. King, his struggle was carried on by such activists as Malcolm X. the social and political activity of African Americans increased substantially to the extent that first political parties of African Americans appeared, including the Black Panther Party.

1976-Present

Unit Five depicts the evolution of African Americans and their numerous socioeconomic problems, discrimination and inferior position compared to whites. In response to these problems African Americans focused on the steady improvement of their socioeconomic and political position in the US. The 1980s were characterized by the support and leverage to blacks in politics. For instance, in 1989 Douglas Wilder became the first African American elected governor in the US history. In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois became the first female African American elected to the US Senate (Hine, 2001). Furthermore, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice were African Americans who entered the US government, whereas in 2008, Barak Obama the first African American President of the US. However, such changes and obvious improvements of the position of African Americans still fail to eliminate the inequality. The dissatisfaction of African Americans manifested itself through 1993 riots in LA. Even today, the inequality persists.

Conclusion

Thus, African Americans had passed a long way from slavery to the Presidency in the US but they still suffer from inequality, underrepresentation and socioeconomic problems. Nevertheless, the progression of African Americans in the course of the history proves that they do improve their position and gain larger and equal rights and liberties and opportunities in a way.


References:

Braude, B. (March, 2002). “The Abrahamic Attitudes toward Racism and Slavery. Is Religion Moral?” Annals: History, Social Science, vol. 22.
Black, T.D. Jr. (2005). Bridges of Memory; Chicago's First Wave of Black Migration: An Oral History. Northwestern University Press.
Franklin, J.H. (2001). From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. Chicago: McGraw-Hill Education.
Goldenberg, D. M. (1999) “The Development of the Idea of Race: Classical Paradigms and Medieval laborations.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition, vol. 5.
Haley, A. (2007). Roots. New York: Vanguard Press.
Hine, D.C. et al. (2002). The African-American Odyssey. N.J., Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

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