Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Civil Rights

Minorities and civil rights have a rather interesting history but it’s a story about our future hope.  In the 1960s the Civil Right Act was passed.  The American Congress made it possible for changes to occur in our society that were to have reaching implications.  Through this act it was possible to inspect voter registration rolls, prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.  It also ensured there was equity in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. 

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000), a poet, teacher, and the first black to win the Pulitzer Prize wrote, “When you use the term minority or minorities in reference to people, you’re telling them that they’re less than somebody else.”  But with Christianity love is the greatest virtue, and there ought to be no distinctions between people of different races. 

Media & Civil Rights

The Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) was in full swing with the aim to abolish discrimination.  Its success was made possible through TV with images of church groups, protestors, and sympathizers.  Viewers witnessed brutality, sit-ins, freedom riders, and marches, and clashes with the National Guard impacted the national conscience.  The Black Power Movement (1968–1980) countered stereotypes about blacks, instilled dignity in the race, by pushing for economic and political parity. 

In the late 1960s came the 11-member Kerner Commission appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to the riots in American cities.  A national Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders endeavored to ascertain the cause of the riots.  What would prevent future occurrences?  What was mass media’s role in the unrest and how well were blacks served?

The Kerner Commission found that the media failed in its mission to the black community.  It was believed that America was moving towards two separate and unequal societies - one white, and the other black.  The media didn’t report the underlying problems that led to the riots.  Further there was a predominant presentation of white images to the detriment of blacks.  Black culture, history and activities were ignored and media didn’t cover these issues.

America’s Diversity

America shares a common destiny.  Ron Kind (b. 1963), who served as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin said, “For as long as the power of America’s diversity is diminished by acts of discrimination and violence against people just because they are black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Muslim or gay, we still must overcome.”  America has come a long way since then.  The American culture now shows examples of black visibility by having a voice in government, business, and national affairs.  When President Barack Obama was elected to the White House some conditions changed for the better.  But blacks are still viewed disproportionally to whites as perpetrators of drug and criminal offenses.  Black leaders often criticize government and the media for their failure of not adequately pointing out police brutality.

Window Dressing

Blacks have passed the stage of being seen as “window dressing,” as alluded in 1977 by the United States Commission for the Study of Civil Rights.  But women and minorities still have a way to go to be equal in America.  Mahatma Gandhi (18691948), the preeminent leader of Indian Independence Movement in British-ruled India wrote, “You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”  Christians must continue to promote the goodness of all people.  America’s future depends on the gifts of every ethnic group.


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