Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Civil Rights Act

In the 1960 presidential election campaign John F. Kennedy supported the Civil Rights Act which made him gain the support and votes of 70 per cent of African Americans. However, during the first two years of his presidency, Kennedy failed to accomplish what he had promised.

The Civil Rights bill was brought before Congress in 1963 and in a speech on television on 11th June, Kennedy pointed out that: "The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day; one third as much chance of completing college; one third as much chance of becoming a professional man; twice as much chance of becoming unemployed; about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year; a life expectancy which is seven years shorter; and the prospects of earning only half as much."

Unfortunately, the assassination of president Kennedy was as unexpected as shocking to the world, leaving his vice-president Lyndon Johnson as the new president of the United States. Johnson believed that he owed Kennedy the duty to push through the act. He also believed that it was needed to advance the African Americans within U.S society and thanks to people like Martin Luther KIng and Malcolm X, society had started to change in just a few years. Therefore, Johnson used Kennedy's murder to appeal to the community so in July of 1964 president Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal

March On Washington

The August 28, 1963, March on Washington was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C and attracted the nation's attention. Vehicles known as "freedom buses" and "freedom trains" brought people from regions of the United States to this demonstration. Over 30 special trains, and 2,000 buses were used. Rather than the anticipated hundred thousand marchers, more than twice that number appeared, astonishing even its organizers, with a total 250,000 participants and 60,000 of them being white. Blacks and whites, side by side, called on President John F. Kennedy and the Congress to provide equal access to public facilities, quality education, adequate employment, and decent housing for African Americans.

As the event continued, so did the crowd's size and officials developed a deep fear for a violent attack. Fortunately, there was no violence and speaker after speaker the people became inspired. Then Martin Luther King Jr. stood to speak. King, the most popular of all the civil rights leaders, delivered a speech that would be heard on television stations across the country from 1963 to present. Known as the "I have a dream" speech, it is currently considered one of the greatest and most influential speeches ever.

At the end, the march was a total success and many Americans witnessed for the first time black people and whites united, marching and celebrating side by side.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We Shall Overcome

"We Shall Overcome" was a song that became popular in the 1960s, during the Civil Rights movement in America, after Pete Seeger picked it up, adapted it, and taught it to his audiences to sing. However, the melody dates back to before the Civil War, from a song called "No More Auction Block For Me" and the lyrics originally were "I'll overcome someday," which dates back to a 1901 song by the Reverend Charles Tindley of Philadelphia.

The song didn't appear on a large scale until 1946, during a labor strike at the American Tobacco Company. One of the women striking that day, Lucille Simmons, began singing slowly, "Deep in my heart I do believe we'll overcome some day."

Zilphia Horton, whose husband was the co-founder of the Highlander Folk School (aka Highlander Research and Education Center), learned the song from Simmons and, a year later, taught it to Pete Seeger.

Since then, "We Shall Overcome" has spread from singer to singer, through protests and peace rallies. It was recorded by Joan Baez in 1963 and became a major anthem of the Civil Rights movement.

The Power of the King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was undeniably a man that had the ability to attract masses to listen to his speeches, to follow his goals, and believe in his ideals. But how did he achieve this? Perhaps it was his ambition and his determination for a free, equal, and just nation that transmitted through his words and really appealed to people and touched them. Maybe it was due to fact that he was one person that gave hope to thousands of people that had dreamt and fought for racial equality. Nevertheless, he had the power to raise public consciousness of the civil rights movement, which established him as one of the greatest speakers in U.S history. Also, his incredible and astonishing communication skills made his speeches captivating; and these characteristics made "I Have A Dream", the greatest speech of the twentieth century and, more than that, one of the greatest speeches in history. It's not a coincidence that more than 700 cities in the United States have streets named after him; several awards have been attributed to him; and a holiday was established after him. Thanks to King's ability to persuade with his words and his accomplishments that he achieved during his lifetime, he still lives today through his ideals that changed the nation forever.

Freedom Ride

May 4, 1961, an interracial group of CORE members and college students which consisted of seven blacks and six whites left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the Deep South. They intended to test the Supreme Court's ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional.

In the first few days, the riders encountered only minor hostility, but in the second week the riders were severely beaten. Outside Anniston, Alabama, one of their buses was burned, and in Birmingham several dozen whites attacked the riders only two blocks from the sheriff's office. With the intervention of the U.S. Justice Department, most of CORE's Freedom Riders were evacuated from Birmingham, Alabama to New Orleans.

CORE Leaders decided that letting violence end the trip would send the wrong signal to the country. They reinforced the pair of remaining riders with volunteers, and the trip continued. The group traveled from Birmingham to Montgomery without incident, but on their arrival in Montgomery they were savagely attacked by a mob of more than 1000 whites. The extreme violence and the indifference of local police prompted a national outcry of support for the riders, putting pressure on President Kennedy to end the violence.

The riders continued to Mississippi, where they endured further brutality and jail terms but generated more publicity and inspired dozens more Freedom Rides. By the end of the summer, the protests had spread to train stations and airports across the South, and in November, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued rules prohibiting segregated transportation facilities.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The World of Advertising

In modern society, advertising is an important social phenomenon. It both stimulates consumption, economic activity, life-styles and a certain value orientation. Consumers are confronted with extensive daily doses of advertising in multiple media. With the continual attack of marketing media, it is presumable that it will affect our individualism and society as a whole. Thus, consumers' minds can be changed and
opinions molded.

In order to be successful, advertisements need to be appealing to the public and to do this, they distort the truth. They claim that their product, service, or whatever they selling, is superior and better than the competition even if they are exactly the same.

So how do they modify our behavior and convince us that we should trust them?
Advertisers appeal to our right side of the brain, which is responsible for emotions, creativity, motivation and long-term memory. The advertising stimulus acts on emotions and barriers that drive consumer decisions and behavior. They deviate our opinions from reason and decision making so we decide to buy the most appealing product or service.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-in

The first manifestation of African-Americans raising their voice against discrimination during the 60's was the "Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-in".
In 1960 four freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro walked into the F. W. Woolworth store and quietly sat down at the lunch counter. This lunch counter only had chairs and stools for whites, while blacks had to stand and eat and although they were not served, they stayed until closing time. The next morning they came with twenty-five more students. Two weeks later similar demonstrations had spread to several cities, within a year similar peaceful demonstrations took place in over a hundred cities North and South. At Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, the students formed their own organization, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced "Snick"). The students' bravery in the face of verbal and physical abuse led to integration in many stores even before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This protest was significant in the Civil Right Movement because it played a large role in spreading it to a larger audience. It also helped to make people reflect on segregation. But overall it became an inspiration for actions against segregation in transport facilities, art galleries, beaches, parks, swimming pools, libraries, and even museums around the South.

For how long do you think people can handle inequality and discrimination until they do something about it and stand up for they believe in? At what point people go against the law to fight against something they believe to be immorally wrong?