28/02/2011 13:25

There was no question that the end of the several centuries of the institution of slavery of blacks had not resulted in the assimilation of blacks into American society. Indeed, there was a violent, post emancipation white backlash, manifested in the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed by the benign neglect of the President and the Congress, codified in the so called Black Codes. The rampant Lynching of blacks became a way of life in America, along with the de facto denial to blacks of every civil right, including the rights to vote, to worship, to use public facilities.

From that time forward, then, blacks were obliged to wage fierce survival struggles in America, creating at once the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to promote integration of blacks into society as full, first­class citizens and the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) of Marcus Garvey to promote independence of blacks and eventually a return to Africa. At the same time, there were the effective efforts of former slave Booker T. Washington to establish a separate socioeconomic scheme for blacks. America’s response to all such efforts was violent and repressive and unyielding. Thus, despite the mass uprisings by blacks in resistance to the unrelenting violence and the law’s delay, despite tacit urgings by blacks to be afforded some means to survive, despite the bold endeavors by blacks to live separate lives in America or leave America, for the next half century, blacks, in the main, found themselves denied of every
possible avenue to either establish their own socioeconomic independence or participate fully in the larger society.

Not until nearly 60 years after Plessy  was there even the most minimal relief, in the Supreme Court’s holding in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education. In Brown, the Supreme Court stated that "separate" was "not equal" for blacks in America (at least with respect to public education). It is noteworthy that Dr. Kenneth Clark (the black psychologist on whose study the Brown court based its findings as to the negative impact on black children of the separate but equal doctrine) noted in 1994 that American schools were more segregated at that time than in 1954, when Brown was decided.

Even after Brown, blacks struggled to integrate and become full partisans in American society, to no avail. From the famous 1955, Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott to the subsequent voter rights efforts to the dangerous sit ins in all white public facilities led by SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) workers, the civil
rights movement challenged America. Under the spiritual guidance and the nonviolent philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. millions, blacks and whites, protested and marched for freedom and justice for America’s black minority, as so many were murdered or maimed for life along the way. Finally, in 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a civil rights act that outlawed racial segregation in public facilities.

It was too little too late. As the images of nonviolent blacks and other civil rights workers and demonstrators being beaten and water hosed by police, spat on and jailed, merely for protesting social injustices shot across America’s television screens (a new and compelling phenomenon in American life and popular culture), young urban blacks rejected non­violence. The full expression of this was the violent protest to the brutal police beating of a black man in Watts (Los Angeles), California in the 1965 rebellion that shocked America and set off other such responses to oppression. By 1967, there had been more than 100 major black, urban rebellions in cities across the country. In the same time frame of the same year, 1965, the Vietnam war erupted. As television reports revealed the horrible realities of the war, good American soldiers killing Vietnamese children, America’s white youth called the question, and rallied against the war. America’s youth, black and white, had become openly hostile to the established order