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❶As the marchers made their way across Historical accounts of the Civil Rights Movement of the s and s have generally focused on the roles and contributions of male leaders and the nationally oriented civil rights organizations that they led.

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Review of African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920

Fifty-one years ago, voting rights marchers were met with police violence while trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Last year the nation marked the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday with a march led by the first African-American president.

In its recent decision striking down North Carolina's "monster voting law" for "target[ing] African Americans with almost surgical precision" and discriminating in both intent and outcome, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals emphasized the historical discrimination that Blacks have encountered when seeking access to the ballot and made clear that the district court that previously heard the case "erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence.

Al McSurely, a longtime civil rights attorney who helped file the lawsuit in , noted that lawyers for the NAACP argued not only that it was unconstitutional to deprive anyone of their right to vote but that it was morally wrong to target a group of people who had been denied their basic rights historically.

For African Americans, the struggle to be recognized as human and to assert their rights as such has been a long-fought battle. When the Reconstruction Amendments to the U. Constitution were adopted between and , freeing enslaved Blacks and making them citizens, Blacks were officially humanized in a way that they had not been for hundreds of years in America. Indeed, while other amendments would effectively grant groups the right to vote — women by the 19th Amendment, and to year-olds by the 26th — no other amendment enfranchised citizens quite like the 14th Amendment granting citizenship rights to former slaves, or the 15th Amendment giving Black men the right to vote.

That's because no other amendment covered a people who had previously been deemed subhuman and enslaved. On the other hand, no other voting amendment would prove to be as malleable as the 15th Amendment.

Despite being constitutionally granted the right to vote, Black men would be forcefully stripped of that right in the years following Reconstruction, and Black people as a whole would be deprived of basic human rights. North Carolina was a site of particularly violent attacks on newly won Black voting rights.

In , less than 30 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment and just as Blacks were beginning to collaborate with progressive whites to assert political power, embittered white supremacists killed up to Black leaders and ran countless others out of Wilmington, which at the time was the state's largest city. The massacre occurred just days after Wilmington had elected a white mayor and biracial city council, showing that if given the ballot Blacks could assert themselves in significant ways.

Instead, the white supremacists overthrew the elected government. The Wilmington massacre and coup d'etat was part of a broader backlash against Black rights that ushered in Jim Crow laws throughout the South, relegating Blacks to second-class citizenship and depriving them of political power for almost years — until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of , which McSurely calls "the special act that grew out of the 15th Amendment.

For 48 years, the Voting Rights Act required states and local governments with a history of voting discrimination to undergo federal preclearance before implementing election changes. Many of the covered jurisdictions were in the South, including 40 of North Carolina's counties. But then in , the U. Supreme Court effectively struck down the law's preclearance requirement with its decision in Shelby County v. That case came out of Alabama, an important battleground for the people's movement that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

While sympathetic to King, the book is not afraid to point to his shortcomings. Revealingly — and perhaps a reflection of King's acceptance into the pantheon of American heroes — subsequent editions have dropped the word "critical" from the title. For many years, women's roles in the civil rights movement were neglected.

Ransby's study charts the remarkable life of activist Ella Baker, who played an influential organising and leadership role over many decades and helped establish the foundations for King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Ransby offers a fascinating portrait of one of the movement's forgotten true heroes. Rustin is another previously overlooked figure. Gay, pacifist, communist and Quaker, Bayard Rustin was largely kept out of view so as not to attract unwelcome publicity. He was pivotal in organising the March on Washington and he was a close advisor to King on nonviolence. D'Emilio's gender studies perspective broaches the touchy subject of sexuality in civil rights studies.

In the s, many organisations contributed to the success of the civil rights movement. A youth-based movement, SNCC led daring direct action protests such as sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and freedom rides. Carson, a former SNCC member and now the director of the Martin Luther King Jr Papers project , skillfully offers scholarly insight combined with first-hand experience.

Chafe's book was one of the first to examine the civil rights movement from a "bottom up" grassroots perspective. He places the protests that launched the sit-in movement in a much broader context and a longer history of black activism.

This was the first book I read as a graduate student, and it provided a model and inspiration for my own PhD thesis, which took the Little Rock school integration crisis of as its point of departure. In recent years, historians have begun to examine the civil rights movement within the context of international relations. Dudziak shows that the cold war made the US far more conscious of how it treated people of colour at home as it competed with the Soviet Union to win non-white hearts and minds abroad.

Her book charts new territory in exploring international dimensions that shaped the movement — and how the movement shaped international relations. The struggle for desegregation in education preceded and outlasted the civil rights movement's heyday of the s and s. Kluger charts the legal struggle by the NAACP, the US's oldest civil rights organisation, which led to the landmark Brown school desegregation decision in The history of the Brown decision reminds us that the movement was built on decades of previous black activism.

Kluger's talent is to focus on the human story and drama in the midst of describing complex courtroom proceedings. We often think of the civil rights movement as a distinct episode in the history of the US south. More recent studies like Sugrue's have shown that discrimination against African Americans existed nationwide, as did African American struggles to overcome it.

His book not only challenges us to reconsider the chronology of the movement beyond the s and s, but also shifts its geographic coordinates to marshal an enormous wealth of research and an impressively diverse range of events. The civil rights movement changed US politics and society, but its cultural impact was just as important.

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African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, By Rosalyn Terborg-Penn. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ''Doers ofthe Word": African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North, Last year the nation marked the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday with a march led by the first African-American president. The U.S. has come a long way, but with voting rights still being contested in Alabama, North Carolina and other states, it's clear the movement's history is still being written.

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The civil rights movement for African Americans did not end with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in For the last fifty years, the African American community has faced challenges related to both past and current discrimination; progress on both fronts remains slow, uneven, and often frustrating. Available rare books, used books and second hand books of the title "African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, (Blacks in the Diaspora)" from Rosalyn Terborg-Penn are completely listed.