“OR DOES IT EXPLODE?” Howard Zinn, Chapter 17 Alyssa Zarate
“Lenox Avenue Mural” -Langston Hughes What happened to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raison in the sun? Or fester like a sore- and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over- Like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? Alyssa Zarate
The Black Revolt In the 1950s and 1960s came a time period of the black revolt. “For blacks in the United States, there was the memory of slavery, and after that of segregation, lynching, humiliation.” (Zinn, p.443). The daily lives of the black generation went through these struggles and battles. What happened to their dreams? Does it really explode? The United States was a country still holding onto its unequal values, especially against the black population. Alyssa Zarate
The United States Alyssa Zarate “The problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the colored line” (Zinn p. 448). President Harry S. Truman in 1946 appointed a committee to focus on civil rights. Where congress had passed laws to stop discrimination in voting and attempted to create new laws to prevent racial discrimination. Why did the government decide to take upon this route? There was discussion of “moral reason” or “economic reason” yet, “international reason” became more believable. The U.S. was under watch by the world due to its politics and segregation norms. It was the talk of the world. The United States needed to make small actions and efforts to show the world they were attempting to change and live up to its reputation of a “free country”. Still, segregation was a hot issue that took its time to be resolved. “It took over a decade to complete the desegregation in the military”. (Zinn p. 449). Laws were passed yet never enforced by executive action.
The United States “In 1954, the court finally struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine that it had defended since in 1890s” (Zinn. Pg. 450). Cases were taken before the court, For example Brown v. Board of Education, the court agreed the negative affect on children. The court sill did not insist on immediate action on the matter. Year 1965, and 75% of schools in the south remained segregated. However, the message went around the world, that the U.S. had finally outlawed segregation. With the lack of progress and timing, the black community grew restless and to some it was surprising. “It was all a surprise to those without that deep memory of slavery, that everyday presences of humiliation, registers in the poetry, the music, the occasional outburst of anger, the more frequent sullen silences” (Zinn pg. 450). Alyssa Zarate
Richard Wright and The Communist Party Richard wright was a novelist , famous for his autobiography Black Boy. Which gave insight to his upraising in the south. His descriptions of racism were clear and gave an image of a colored man growing up. Richard Wright joined the communist party for some time. Why join the communist party? The U.S. put much emphasis on being colored. The importance of race. The communist party was blind to color and had the belief in equality. Meetings were conducted with black and white people, talking and listening to one another, without race being a problem. Alyssa Zarate
Black Revolt Alyssa Zarate
Alyssa Zarate Bus Boycott At the end of 1955 a woman named Rosa Parks unknowingly through her courage would mark the beginning of the black revolt. Rosa Parks, a 43 year old seamstress, after a long working day refused to move from her seat for a white. She was arrested and sent to jail for not obeying Montgomery, Alabama law. In Montgomery, Alabama buses were legally segregated. Whites were to have seat in the front while the blacks were to go to the back of the bus.
Bus Boycott Alyssa Zarate Montgomery black community voted to boycott the entire city of Montgomery bus services. Creating the boycott. As a community they planned for carpools to work and walking together to create a successful boycott. The city retaliated by sending leaders to jail for breaking their laws. Violence broke out and bombs were exploded during the boycott. The bombs exploded in black churches , shots were fired to the home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was also bombed. The black community continued to fight and boycott. “But the black people of Montgomery persisted, and in November 1956, the supreme court outlaws segregation on local bus lines.” (Zinn pg.451) Montgomery was the beginning to a new state of mind, fighting for rights.
The Sit-ins Alyssa Zarate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a minister and leader in the black movement, believed in non violence. Therefore on February 1, 1960 four black college freshman decided to sit at a lunch counter where only whites were aloud to eat, they were refused service. “The next day they returned, and then day after day, other Negroes came to sit silently” (Zinn p. 452). For two weeks, 15 cities in the southern states also had black students voiced their protest in a non violent way. Violence broke out towards the sit inners from the white community. After 12 months 50,000 people black and some white demonstrated these sit-ins in multiple cities. At the end of 1960, lunch counters were no longer segregated in Greensboro and other cities.
Freedom Riders Alyssa Zarate CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) organized a form of protest called “Freedom Riders”. Black and whites were to ride together through the south. Symbolizing togetherness and breaking the pattern and idea of segregation. “Such segregation had been illegal, but the federal government never enforced the law in the South” (Zinn p. 453). May 4, 1961 the two freedom rider buses left Washington D.C. Heading to New Orleans, the buses never arrived. “In South Carolina, riders were beaten. In Alabama, a bus was set on fire.” (Zinn p. 453). Violence broke out toward the freedom riders as the were beaten with weapons and fists. The police did not interfere nor the government. They did nothing to help or protect. After being arrested, arriving to Montgomery to a bloody scene of violence. They continued to Mississippi and were on the news all over the world. The U.S. did not want more violence and made a deal with the state. “The Freedom riders did not become subdued in jail. They resisted, protested, sang , demanded their rights.” (Zinn p 454.)
Riots & Violence Alyssa Zarate “The “typical rioter” according to the commission, was a young, high school drop out but “nevertheless, somewhat better educated than his non-rioting Negro neighbor” and “usually underemployed or employed in a mental job” (Zinn p.460) Mississippi Murders: After traveling to Washington to testify for the government to create a form of protection in Mississippi due to the violence, 3 individuals were murdered. They were arrested, let out late at night where they were beaten with chains and shot to death. Watts Riot: August 1965, Watts, Los Angeles had the biggest riot in history. The most violent. Rioting, looting and fire bombing occurred. 34 people killed, hundreds injured and four thousand arrested. This began when a black woman was wrongly accused of disrespecting a white officer. Kings Death: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader in the movement and strongly encouraged non violence. “The FBI tried “to destroy Dr. Martin Luther King.” (Zinnpg 462). He was assassinated. Creating urban outbreak. Deaths in Riots: In 1967, three black teenagers were killed by white policeman. They were tried four triple murder, but were exonerated. 1970, on campus at Jackson State College, police used gunfire on dormitories, killing two black students. According to the judge black students should expect to be killed or hurt. Boston April 1970, policemen shot and killed an unarmed black man. April 1970, a policeman used force on two black soldiers from Fort Devans and was taken to court. “one of them required twelve stiches in his scalp; the judge awarded the serviceman $3 in damages” (Zinn. Pg 463).
The threat to Class Alyssa Zarate “The destruction of the black lower class” – Poor Peoples Movement (Zinn p.466) In 1967, the League of Revolutionary black workers was created. Influencing workers of the unjust the corporations had on them, from wages and working conditions. “The new emphasis was more dangerous than civil rights, because it created the possibility of blacks and whites uniting on the issue of class exploitation” (Zinn p.464). A threat to separation of class was not going to be taken lightly in a country where segregation was not outlawed. Black businesses would not make as much money as those owned by the whites. Blacks were coming into office in the white house. More opportunities and jobs would be available to them. More educated black people, with better pay and better jobs. Creating a threat to the class system. The system the country had kept the black community in poverty and kept them underneath. The black community was coming up, and that was a threat.
In Conclusion… Alyssa Zarate The Black Revolt was the period of civil rights, protest, violence and laws to be passed to stop segregation. Many Leaders and the black community suffered through their past experiences and had a chance to voice. More blacks could attend colleges, mixed schools, not be discriminated against for jobs and opportunity. Langston Hughes, “Or Does It Explode?” is a great way to put the black revolt. Their dreams were ignored, left to dry. Yet it “exploded”. They fought back for a voice. We do not know when these explosions can happen, but they should not come as a surprise.
Reference Page Alyssa Zarate Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: From 1492 to the Present. London: Longman, 1996. Print.