Fourteenth Amendment and Segregation Reforms Against African Americans

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More than 4 million slaves were living in the United States in 1860 (Muldoon, 2014). These slaves were being worked to death, day and night, under the forceful white Americans. When the Afircan Americans first arrived in 1609, the white colonists thought they were less equal and beneath them because their skin was darker (Muldoon, 2014). White Americans then took charge and began making the African Americans work for them, or they would be beaten and killed (Muldoon, 2014). After the Civil War ended in 1865, slavery ended and the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States of American was creaeted, abloishing slavery (Muldoon, 2014). Although slavery was now a thing of the past, the harmful acts towards Afican Americans was just starting.

Many people knew that the minds and acts of white colonists could not be changed overnight, but the new Civil Rights Act established in 1875, did not leave them with a choice. This Act made it certain that African Americans would be treated equally in all public places such as schools, libraries, and even some private businesses (Muldoon, 2014). However, these things did not stop the acts of white Americans from not letting African Americans get land ownership, wealth, and even education (Muldoon, 2014).

After a newly elected president, Rutherford B. Hays happened in 1877, a group of Southern Democrats, called the “Redeemers,” began passing laws that began separating the lives of white Americans and the African Americans (Muldoon, 2014). African Americans ended up losing any land they were able to get, along with losing voting powers (Muldoon, 2014). Many white business owners disregarded the Civil Rights Act of 1875, by not letting African Americans into their stores (Muldoon, 2014). The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was then ruled “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court in 1883 (Muldoon, 2014). The laws that were being made to separate the two races were known as the “Jim Crow laws” in 1877 (Muldoon, 2014).

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According to the Fourteenth Amendment, African Americans would be getting treated equally, but this did not happen (Muldoon, 2014). The Jim Crow laws passed made it impossible for white Americans and African Americans to ride on the same bus, eat at the same restaurants, shop at the same stores, go to the same schools, use the same bathrooms, and many more things. In most cases, the quality of public services that white Americans had was much nicer (Muldoon, 2014). There were even laws stating that African Americans could not “date, marry, or touch” white Americans (Muldoon, 2014).

Throughout the time of hardships for most of African Americans, some of them tried to rebel against the Jim Crow Laws. Homer Plessy was one of the many. Plessy boarded a train and sat in the white section only to be arrested for breaking the Jim Crow Laws (Muldoon, 2014). Plessy took action against his case and it ended up going to the Supreme Court. The case “Plessy v. Ferguson” ruled against Plessy in 1896. The court stated that “each race just had to be segregated” and that they were “separate but equal” (Muldoon, 2014).

A famous Supreme Court case named “Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka” was happening. In 1951, Linda Brown was denied from an elementary school for all whites (History, 2019). Her father, Oliver Brown, claimed that “schools for black children were not equal to white schools” (History, 2019). He also said that segregation in general violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (History, 2019). There were four other cases recalling schools and segregation along with Brown’s case (History, 2019). In 1952, these cases went before the Supreme Court, all under a single name, “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka” (History, 2019). In 1954, it was written that “separate but equal” has no place as segregated schools are “inherently unequal’” (History, 2019).

After the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for public schools to be segregated, many blacks started to take more action. Even more, Jim Crow laws were being made (Muldoon, 2014). Many African Americans have faced decades of their lives in separation and unequal. One group of African Americans called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or the NAACP wanted equal rights for all (Eddison, 2013). One member of this group was Rosa Parks. In some states, blacks could share a bus with whites as long as they sat in the back of the bus (Eddison, 2013). In 1955, one bus driver asked Parks and three other black females to give up their seats to some white people (Biography, 2019). The three other girls go up, but Parks refused (Eddison, 2013). Rosa Parks was arrested and fined ten dollars (Eddison, 2013). Along with Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. was also a member of the NAACP (Biography, 2019). Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and also a civil rights activist (Biography, 2019). The night that Rosa Parks was arrested, the head of the NAACP, E.D. Nixon, met with some of the group members to form a bus boycott (Biography, 2019). Martin Luther King Jr. was now presented at the president of the group since his was still young and credible (Biography, 2019). The boycott lasted a total of 382 days (Biography, 2019). Most of the blacks never too the bus during this time. Many of them would walk to work, school, and to wherever they needed to go (Biography, 2019). Parks' case went to the Supreme Court and in 1956, it was decided that segregation on public buses was against the law (Eddison, 2013). Parks continued her life working for equal rights (Eddison, 2013). In 1996, she received the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” (Eddison, 2013). At the age of 92, Rosa Parks died and was then on remembered as the “Mother of Civil Rights” (Eddison, 2013).

Martin Luther King Jr. Continued presenting at sit-ins and doing speeches to try to ge segregation to end. However, in October of 1960, King, along with 75 others, went into a store for lunch, but was denied. After refusing to leave, 37 of them, including Martin Luther King Jr. were arrested (Biography, 2019). Many white, and black people as well, were angry at him for taking such risks (Biography, 2019). He wrote a famous letter to Birmingham Jail, saying how important “non-violent” action is (Biography, 2019). In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” (Biography, 2019). This made people from all over the nation start listening. Many people who were not even experienceing racial segregation started putting out their public opinion and questioning the Jim Crow laws (Biography, 2019).

Segregation was upon us for over many decades. However, segregation was coming to an end when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act (History, 2019). By doing this, the Jim Crow laws were now abolished (History, 2019). This legally ended discrimination and segregation (History, 2019). It did not happen all at once however. It was hard to change the minds of the white people, but in the end segregation was illegal (Muldoon, 2014).

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