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“I Have A Dream” Speech Analysis

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“I Have A Dream” Speech Analysis essay

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Ethan Lambert

Mr. Hiatt

History 2019

11 February 2019

I Have A Dream

Not so long ago Americans were under the dominance of slavery. We have come quite a way since then, but it was not given freely. It took Triumph and Tragedy to accomplish these extraordinary goals. Racial segregation, a widespread epidemic that swept the nations, America especially through the 1960s until a new way was formed, one of the ways being the march for freedom, the speech “I Have a Dream”, and the push to end racism.

Congress passed a couple of very influential laws from 1870-1880 that had to do with civil rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1875: this act that was passed abolished racial segregation forever! As a result, the troops who were fighting in southern America were told that, now, African Americans could vote. The Reconstruction amendment: this amendment said that the state had power over everyone in their domain. However, segregation ran rampant in schools. It’s 1867, Republicans have taken over! A new idea emerges, tax-payer schools. The Southern African Americans did not care if there were segregated schools, it had been that way for a while, they just wanted to send their kids to school! Almost all of the schools in the United States were segregated, the only ones that were not segregated were a designated few in New Orleans. When the downfall of the mighty Republicans happened the schools were upheld by some rich conservative whites. The whites may have retained the schoold but extreme funding cuts happened. It was not just the public schools that were segregated, private schools and colleges were both under the influence of segregation. Fisk University and Shaw University where two historically black colleges that were established by the American Missionary Association. While the news of these Historically black colleges reached the north’s ears northern colleges here and there started letting in African American students. Northern Churches and their missionaries made an impact in education by establishing schools across the south, usually private. Since the cost to send your child to school was pretty cheap the church was able to support the college money wise and pay the teachers salary. Since the early 1900s, the churches were mostly based in the north. The total amount of schools operated by the churches was 247 in total, with a budget of 1 million dollars. The churches employed 1600 teachers and were given the opportunity to teach a whopping 46,000 students! The most prominent of the schools included Howard University which was an institution based in Washington. The next was Fisk University in Nashville. A few others were Atlanta University And Hampton Institute in Virginia.

When it came to segregation in America sports were a big deal. In 1900, four years after the US Supreme Court separate but equal constitutional ruling, segregation was enforced in horse racing. Horse racing is a sport that has had many African American jockeys involved. The African American jockeys have won many different tournaments. Widespread segregation also existed in biking and car racing. In 1890, however, segregation would decrease for

African-American track and field athletes. A spectrum of universities and colleges in the north agreed to integrate their track and field teams. Like track and field, soccer was another sport which experienced a low amount of segregation in the early days of segregation.

Many colleges and universities in the northern states would also allow African Americans on to play their football teams as well.

Segregation was nearly nonexistent in boxing. In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African American to win the World Heavyweight Title. However, Johnson’s personal life and affairs made him unpopular among many Caucasians in America.

It was not until 1937 when Joe Louis defeated German boxer, Max Schmeling, that the general American public would embrace an African American as their champion.

In 1904, Charles Follis became the first African American to play for a professional football team, the Shelby Blues and professional football leagues agreed to allow only a limited number of teams to be integrated. In 1933, however, the NFL, now the only major football league in the United States, reversed its limited integration policy and completely segregated the entire league. However, the NFL color barrier would permanently break in 1946, when the Los Angeles Rams signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode and the Cleveland Browns hired Marion Motley and Bill Wallis.

Prior to the 1930s, basketball suffered a great deal of discrimination as well. African Americans and Caucasians were forbidden from playing with each other in games. But, the popularity of the Harlem Globetrotters skyrocketed and the Globetrotters would alter the American public’s acceptance of African Americans in basketball. In 1942, the segregation wall for basketball was abolished after five Harlem Globetrotters joined the Chicago Studebakers.

In 1947, segregation in professional sports would suffer a very big blow after the Baseball color lines were broken, when African American league Baseball player Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn administration and had an amazing season.

By the end of 1949, shockingly, only 15 states were fully integrated and only eighteen states had outlawed segregation in the accommodations of the public. Out of the remaining states, twenty states still allowed school segregation to take place, fourteen were still allowing segregation to remain in public transportation and 30 were still enforcing laws that forbid miscegenation. ( Miscegenation was the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.)

In 1948, the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball became the first national organization to open their intercollegiate postseason to black student/athletes. In 1953, it became the first collegiate association to invite historically black colleges and universities into its membership.

stratification was informally and systemically enforced, in order to solidify the pre-existing social order.

Although technically able to vote, poll taxes, pervasive acts of terror such as lynching in the United States (often perpetrated by groups such as the reborn Ku Klux Klan founded in the Reconstruction South), and discriminatory laws such as grandfather clauses kept black Americans (and many Poor Whites) disenfranchised particularly in the South. Furthermore, discrimination extended to state legislation that ‘allocated vastly unequal financial support’ for black and white schools. In addition to this, county officials sometimes redistributed resources earmarked for blacks to white schools, further undermining educational opportunities. In response to de jure racism, protest and lobbyist groups emerged, most notably, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1909.

This time period is sometimes referred to as the nadir of American race religions because racism, segregation, racial discrimination, and expressions of white supremacy all increased. So did anti-black violence, including race riots such as the Atlanta race riot of 1906 and the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The Atlanta riot was characterized by the French newspaper Le petit journals a ‘racial massacre of negroes’. The Charleston News and Courier wrote in response to the Atlanta riots: ‘Separation of the races is the only radical solution of the negro problem in this country. There is nothing new about it. It was the Almighty who established the bounds of the habitation of the races. The negroes were brought here by compulsion; they should be induced to leave here by persuasion.’ On July 1, 1917, two white policemen were killed in East St. Louis, Illinois, in a ruckus caused by marauders attacking homes of blacks in the area. The incident sparked a race riot on July 2, which ended with forty-eight killed, hundreds injured, and thousands of homes burned. The police and state militia did little to prevent the carnage, which mostly targeted African Americans. On July 28, the NAACP protested with a Silent March of 10,000 black men, women, and children down New York’s Fifth Avenue. The women and children dressed in white and the men in black suits marched behind a row of drummers carrying banners calling for justice and equal rights. The only sound was the beat of muffled drums.

In April 1918, U.S. Representative Leonidas Dyer (R-MO) introduced an anti-lynching bill in the House, based on a bill drafted by NAACP founder Albert E. Pillsbury in 1901. The bill called for the prosecution of lynchers in federal courts. State officials who failed to protect the rights of lynching victims or prosecute lynchers could face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The victim’s heirs could recover up to $10,000 from the county where the crime occurred. NAACP Secretary James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) personally lobbied for the bill. After a prolonged fight, the House passed the bill on January 26, 1922, by a vote of 230 to 119, but a filibuster by Southern Democrats defeated it in the Senate.

In conjunction with its 1920 anti-lynching campaign, the NAACP began flying this flag from the windows of its headquarters at 69 Fifth Avenue each time a lynching occurred in the United States. By the late 1920s, ninety-five percent of lynchings occurred in the South. The words “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday,” are stitched to both sides of the flag. The threat of losing its lease forced the NAACP to discontinue the practice of flying the flag in 1938. This original canvas flag is housed with the NAACP Records in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech on August 28, 1963. One of its most powerful lines reads, ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Knowing that three different news stations would be in attendance that day, King wrote a speech in advance. Moved by the emotion of the crowd, however, he went off script and began preaching from the heart. King references the beliefs of the Founding Fathers, who declared that America would be a land of freedom where all men are created equal. Throughout the speech, King repeats the phrases ‘I have a dream’ and ‘with this faith’ in his dream, using the rhetorical strategy of repetition to drive home his point. Next will be the timeline of events that happened to end segregation.

The Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of all citizens to equal protection under the law but does not explicitly outlaw racial segregation. The Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation laws do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment as long as they adhere to a ‘separate but equal’ standard. As later rulings would demonstrate, the Court failed to even enforce this meager standard; it would be another six decades before the Court meaningfully revisited its constitutional responsibility to confront racial segregation in public schools. President Harry Truman issues Executive order 9881, outlawing racial segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court rules that ‘separate but equal’ is a flawed standard. As Chief Justice Earl Warren writes in the majority opinion:

‘We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.’

The emerging segregationist “State rights” movement immediately reacts to slow the immediate implementation of Brown and limit its effect as much as possible. The court will never uphold Separate but Equal again. Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, establishing a federal policy that prohibits racially segregated public accommodations and imposes penalties for racial discrimination in the workplace. Although the law has remained in effect for nearly a half-century, it remains highly controversial to this day.

After all of these years of fighting for integration between African Americans and Caucasians, African Americans finally succeeded. This victory was not freely given, it was earned with blood, sweat, tears, and hope. There was a huge Tragedy when Whites dare assume themselves superior to Blacks. Through many battles, they Triumphed.

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