Topic 6: The state and its relationship with religion and with minorities

27. Compare and contrast the efforts of two ethnic/racial minorities, each chosen from a different region, to obtain equality and self determination

Cam Nguyen
Blacks/Civil Rights Movement “50s—the United States vs. Nonwhites—South Africa

The outline does not follow the traditional five-paragraph paper. I put the background to both groups in the beginning and you can look at it and choose which information is necessary and appropriate to be used in the argument.

Background:
- Civil Rights Movement
o Slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln
o Jim Crow laws forbade interracial marriages.
o The idea of “separate but equal”: in 1890, Louisiana issued a law requiring railroads to provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races
o Separate streets, cars, entrances to restaurants, waiting rooms, witness stands, etc. became prominent in many states, especially in the south.
- Nonwhites/Blacks (Asians—mostly Indians and Africans—made up from different tribes) in South Africa
o Former Dutch and British colony—made up of four separate colonies, now a union
o Because the British feared that extending the colorblind franchise would wreck the union, nonwhites remained permanently disenfranchised.
o Nonwhites were mostly used for cheap labor, which mattered significantly to the South African economy. The Afrikaners, the majority among whites, gained political power and many government policies opposed labor rights for blacks. Thus even though nonwhites are the majority of the South African population, their lack of political power makes them a minority.
o The Native Land Act of 1913 confined African landownership to native reserves, which contained only 7 percent of the land for 78 percent of the population. A system of passes controlled Africans’ movements elsewhere in the country and implemented residential segregation.
o Nonwhites were also excluded from better jobs, and their political weakness came mostly from the lack of unity.
o From 1910 to 1948, nonwhites used protests to reserve their rights, but failed miserably.

Thesis: Both used nonviolence to achieve unity, equality and self-determination. However, nonwhites in South Africa, because of worsening situation despite their use of nonviolence, became more radical in the later years of their movement and battled between the use of violence or nonviolence. Blacks in the United States were also united under strong leaders such as Martin Luther King, while South African nonwhites were not, and as a result they lost unity and achieved little success.

o NAACP fought segregation in legal court.
- Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
- However, reactions were mixed. Some state legislatures supported the decision (Kansas and Oklahoma), while some state legislatures opposed the decision (Mississippi and Georgia). However, strength from black families and black students allowed desegregation of schools to continue. Nine African American students volunteered to integrate by entering Little Rock’s Central High School despite the protests of local whites.
o Within a year, more than 500 school districts desegregated, but in certain places, the Ku Klux Klan reemerged with help from residents. Many civil rights workers, black students, and those who supported desegregation were shot, beaten, or lynched.
o Martin Luther King preached the idea of nonviolent resistance or “soul force”/ civil disobedience.
- His passionate speech gave blacks hope and faith, united them, and gave them a sense of direction for the future (e. g. “I Have a Dream” speech).
- He along with other civil rights leaders founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spread the message of non-violent resistance and social reforms through peace and cooperation between blacks and whites and to gain more support of African Americans of all ages.

o The ANC in South Africa worked with whites to end the erosion of basic rights.
- In 1912, the South African Native National Congress was formed and later known as African National Congress. The ANC followed Gandhi’s message of peaceful cooperation and nonviolent resistance, having the goal not of revolution but of political participation and equal rights for nonwhites.
- Alfred Xuma became president of the ANC in 1940 and mobilized the movement to a national level.
- A more radical generation emerged during Word War 2 and formed the Congress Youth League. Many people discarded the idea of cooperation, which mirrored the black leader Malcolm X in the United States. However, unlike the Civil Rights in which Martin Luther King’s philosophy of peaceful demonstration gained more support, South African blacks were more divided between the two methods. They tried both methods, but both failed them.
- Unlike blacks in the United States who believed themselves to have a common blood, nonwhites in South Africa, though grouped as one, were still divided. The division grew further from their lack of one or more strong leader.

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