The history of the development of equality for African Americans in America has been among the great accomplishments followed by a lot of small gains and many set backs as well. The illegalizing of slavery didn’t immediately make all blacks equal with whites in America. It took numerous subsequent legal actions as well as hundreds of social efforts, big and small, to slowly make the advancement we have seen today. But even in this day and age, in a new century, there’s an ongoing battle against racism. It appears we need leadership to guide society to true equality as muchnow as ever in our history.
The abolition of slavery merely began the long hard struggle for African American culture to be a real part of what it means to be an American. That’s because even though the legal definition of slavery had been shaken off, the attitudes and cultural systems in place to keep the races apart and to deny black people rights equal with whites had to be addressed one at a time.
Slowly across the decades, we have seen great changes but several came at a great cost. From the legal awarding of the right to vote to African Americans to the civil rights movement to school integration, each step forward was accompanied by resistance, great difficulty and significant sacrifice from leaders and average citizens alike to make every step toward true equality a reality.
Of all the attempts to “level the playing field”, none has been a lot controversial than the Affirmative Action program. In its beginning, it was meant to be a supplement to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over time it had become clear-cut that despite removal of laws that implemented segregation or discrimination, there seemed to be an instinctive segregation in the work place that was holding African Americans from getting a fair chance at jobs due to the prejudices of an employer, even if that prejudice wasn’t officially recognized in the company charter.
There were two important executive orders that made affirmative action a reality. The first was Executive Order 10925 signed by President Kennedy on March 6, 1965 which was the 1st law to make mention of
But all the same, often the case when the authorities attempt to impose right attitudes via legislation, these laws often produced as many problems for minorities as they cured. Nonetheless as the application of the quota systems started out to become widespread, it did open a lot of doors for African Americans that would not have opened due to racial prejudice and silent segregation that was holding back the African American community from reaching its economic potential.
In truth, no one really liked this kind of imposed fairness system. For whites, they felt the sting of an artificial system of judgment that was occasionally called “reverse discrimination”. While there was a few justices that the white community got a taste for what it felt like to loose out on opportunity due to the color of your skin, it didn’t help the country in our goal of growing jointly to be one “color blind” community.
Affirmative Action was a real mixed blessing for the African American community. While it did its task in the short term to opening doors that were closed due to racism, it is not the perfect solution. That is because it didn’t fulfill Dr. King’s vision of a world where a man is judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. We can desire that we will grow to that point as a culture and review on affirmative action as an unfortunate but needed provision to help us grow and mature as a genuinely integrated culture.
© 1/26/2011 Athena Goodlight on Factoidz