Segregation: Martin Luther King
In the early 1900s America was torn apart in a battle known as segregation. The African American race was treated unjustly and faced a tough journey. They were shoved aside and torn apart from the Caucasian Americans. There was separate railroad cars, schools, and even to such small insignificant things as separate water fountains. The white children were being taught to treat African Americans as dirty people who deserved to be separate. It created a prejudice that would take years to overcome, to completely be unselfish again.
Caucasian Americans were very wrong in their thinking and they never thought about how it made African Americans feel. The African Americans of this time period were struggling to overcome this new time where they were treated as outsiders, as if they were not a part of the American people. Every single human being is uniquely different and segregation was a constant battle our fellow Americans fought to overcome, all for the sole purpose of gaining equality. There were Caucasian people who thought segregation was a good thing and supported it strongly.
They didn’t think there was anything wrong with separate facilities and they didn’t even wonder about how African Americans lives were affected by this injustice. African Americans rights were basically stripped away all because they were viewed as “different. ” A Florida congressman, Frank Clark, was open about his views on segregation. He truly believed segregation was a great thing and he supported this belief. When talking about the railroad cars he explains that it is good to have separate ones. He blames the conditions of the cars on the African Americans.
He states to “imagine a nice, new passenger coach, packed with dirty, greasy, filthy negroes, down South in midsummer, and you can readily understand why that car does not long remain as good, as clean, and a as desirable as a similar car occupied exclusively by white travelers” (Frank Clark praises segregation 37). In this statement he was expressing his true beliefs. He also said that “if God Almighty had intended these two races to be equal, He would have so created them” (Frank Clark praises segregation 37). Frank Clark was a very firm believer in the Social Darwinism theory.
He believed that white men were better because God created them that way. He was very prejudiced in his way of viewing the human races, as if whites were superior. Another person who supported segregation was George Wallace, a governor of Alabama. During his inauguration speech, he says that “in the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say: segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” (George C. Wallace, Inaugural Address as governor of Alabama 120). He wanted the Southerners to fight for segregation.
He wanted them to vote and to defend “their” homeland. Wallace said that he was helping every person in the state, but in all actuality he was supporting whites only. Not as openly as some, but definitely in favor of segregation. He wanted the Southerners to be the most powerful, the Caucasian Southerners. Segregation was a very powerful movement that had everyone in an uproar. Although some saw segregation as a good thing, many others fought for their freedom wholeheartedly. For this reason, the “Separate but Equal” case eventually became overthrown.
Those who fought for freedom slowly made progress. W. E. B Du Bois, a leading African American of this time, stood up for the rights they were being robbed of. He didn’t believe Booker T. Washington was dealing with civil rights in the best way possible. Talking about the African American race, he states that “-we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them. By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world accords to men, clinging unwaveringly to those great words which the sons of the Fathers would fain forget ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator…” (W. E. B Du Bois, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington 33).
He believed there were ignoring the fact that the stands there were already taking and the movements that had created were not working. He believed they needed to take a better stand to end segregation. Another supporter of ending segregation was pro-baseball player Jackie Robinson. He wrote a letter to President Eisenhower so that he could explain what it was like living in America this way. He wanted the president to understand what they were doing to the African American race.
Robinson explains that the African Americans have been patient for too long and it was time for the country to change. He wanted the president to give them the rights they were entitled to have as Americans. He challenged the President to find a way to give them back their freedom and treat them equally. (Letter From Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower 103). During this time period, one of the most famous speeches of all time was given. Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream Speech” rocked the nation to its core. He wanted to completely end segregation and create a nation that was equal.
He believed that civil rights advocates should not use violence to get this freedom, but to do it in a way that showed American the true souls of the African American people. He dreamed of a day when the nation would treat everyone equally, he dreamed of a time when whites and former slaves could share a table and meal, he dreamed of Mississippi becoming a state of freedom and justice instead of oppression. Martin Luther King had a dream that children would not be judged by their skin but by who they were as individuals.
He had a dream that one day we could all sing together “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring! ” (Martin Luther King, I have a Dream Speech 122). This was the most influential speech of all and many people took it to heart. All of these different people fought to end segregation. Segregation was a true raging enemy in the eyes of African Americans. They wanted the freedom that was promised to all American and they fought hard to gain that freedom.
Many speeches, many movements and many humiliating experiences got them closer and closer to achieving their goal. Finally the Supreme Court declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. This was the first progress African Americans had seen in a long time. They deserved to be treated equally. America would not be America if people were not all equally free. Freedom holds this country together, as it has for all of the years past. Segregation was a battle fought for years, but in the end was worth it for every race, ethnicity, and even religious person could have equality.