Has Race Relations Improved Since the Civil War

Patterns of racial relations in American history have been punctuated with extreme racial segregation. Such relationship depicted in the manner by which the white community controls policymaking in successive administrations, the existence of deliberate formal and informal rules that discriminate against nonwhites in good-paying and prestigious occupations, the existence of extreme social differences between whites and non-whites, and others. However, there is a marked improvement of racial relations in the US since the end of the Civil War. This paper looks at the contributions gained through the Civil Rights movement through peaceful demonstrations, violence, and civil unrests, and the end of segregation as evidence of improvement of racial relations in the US since the Civil War end.

Race Relations in the Twentieth Century

Civil Rights Movement

The events of the 1960s portrayed enduring scenarios that overwhelmingly changed the course of United States history. This memorable period commenced with the election of enigmatic John Kennedy as President, and his subsequent assassination thereafter (“These United States” 135). This period was quite dramatic as it heralded political innovation which profoundly led to the expansion of the size, functions, and responsibilities of the federal government for the welfare of American citizens. As a result, the period saw the emergence of a relentless, national, and powerful civil rights movement that specifically assisted in curtailing the Jim Crow system constructed in the late 19th century. It was during this period that the American senate passed a comprehensive Civil Rights bill (“These United States” 120).

Civil Rights pressed further to agitate for their voting rights. In 1964, many black and white civil rights workers from the north and south matched through the south to agitate for black voter registration and involvement. This received a violent reaction from Southern whites. Three of the freedom workers activists were mercilessly killed by the Ku Klux Klan group with the assistance of the police and others. Later in 1965, King convened a major demonstration in Selma, Alabama to agitate for the rights of blacks to be enlisted to vote. The local police brutally attacked the demonstrators that horrified many people across the American nation. The ensued outrage forced President Lyndon Johnson to push through the passage of the Civil rights Act of 1965, referred to as the Voting Rights Act. This Act gave blacks federal protection who wished to exercise their rights to participate in an election. However, this alone failed to fulfill the rising expectations of the black community as they shifted their focus from political to economic matters (“These United States” 136).

For quite some time in the 21st century, the US black population faced a major demographic change; the issue of racial injustice no longer concentrated in Southern and rural, by the 1960s as it had been before. 69 % of African Americans had moved to the metropolis by 1966 and 45% outside the South (“These United States” 121). During this period, the economy for the majority of Americans was improving; however, conditions in poor urban communities where the black community was concentrated, conditions deteriorated. Black unemployment was twice higher than that of whites (“These United States” 136). The issue of race shifted from the South to the rest of American. There were issues of school segregation that were viciously fought across America. Further, African American leaders fought against job discrimination. They demanded employers to denounce negative measures of denying blacks employment. This culminated in the adoption of affirmative action in 1965 (“These United States” 122). The attention shifted to housing and employment discrimination in industrial cities in the North. Civil Rights activists launched these campaigns in Chicago. This met heavy resistance from white residents of Chicago. This campaign failed to achieve its intended purpose, thus led to many frustrations.

Violence and Civil Unrests

The problem of the urban poor had captured the attention of the whole nation even before the Chicago campaigns. This was a result of the outbreak of violence in black neighborhoods in major American towns. The first race riot happened in Los Angeles. During the same period, a white traffic police officer clobbered a protesting black bystander, sparking anger and violence all over the country. The orgy was immense, people attached white motorists, stores were looted, buildings burnt, and other violent elements. Reports of the violence alarmed everyone and created a sense of many whites embracing the cause of racial justice. A commission (Commission on Civil disorders) was created and it recommended government spending to eliminate poor living conditions among the poor.

Abolition of Segregation

This spirited campaign by the Civil Rights movement assisted in exposing social problems and racial grievances that were not easy to solve. Their sustained pressure helped in the abolition of legalized segregation and disfranchisement; however, it activated high expectations of social and economic equality that mere legislation could not satisfy and that remained to a large extent not resolved. What started as a peaceful interracial crusade of the 1960s soon transformed into a vicious militant, antagonistic, and divided separatist movement toward the end of the decade (“These United States” 136).

The killing of king Jr. brought about a lot of racial upheavals in US history (“These United States” 129). His death produced a lot of anger among the black American population. There were major riots all over American cities. About 43 people lost their dear lives, over 3000 sustained various injuries, and as many as over 27000 people were placed in custody. Two months after the king’s assassination, Robert Kennedy who identified his hopes with the underclass such as, the Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and the poor, was also killed in cold blood. He was also aligned with many American liberals who considered the underclass as people who required attention. The late Robert Kennedy had a fervent commitment to using government to aid the less fortunate (“These United States” 129).

In sum, Americans confronted two profound tasks in the wake of the Civil War; the attainment of healing and justice dispensation. These two situations had to occur, but they never developed in historical balance. The imagination of American political culture was overwhelmed by the sectional reunion compatible with black freedom and equality. A century later today, America still faces though on small scale, much of this dilemma. Overall, racial relations have undoubtedly improved in the US.

Works Cited

“These United States.” COR100 United States Issues, Ideas, and Institutions. The College of Staten Island by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Learning Solutions 2007.