African Americans today
Almost 160 years after slavery was abolished in the United States, the country‘s African American population continues to grapple with racially motivated discrimination. In the 1950s and 1960s African Americans took things into their own hands and began to fight for equal rights. The most famous leader of the civil rights movement was a young Baptist minister from Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was in favour of peaceful protest by means of sit-ins and boycotts and opposed the use of violence. In December 1964 Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but in 1968 he was assassinated by a white man. Parallel to King‘s peaceful civil rights movement, Malcolm X became the figurehead of the Black Power movement. He and others believed that peaceful resistance would not lead to equality and advocated more violent means. There were a number of race riots in the 1960s, for example in New York in 1964 and in Los Angeles in 1965, in which many people were injured or killed. Malcolm X was shot dead in 1965 but more radical groups such as the Black Panthers continued to fight for equality. One lasting success of the civil rights movement was a series of important laws that were passed in the 1960s, giving black people legal equality, at least on paper: The Civil Rights Act (1964) outlawed segregation in schools, public places or jobs. The Voting Rights Act (1965) outlawed practices such as literacy tests, which had prevented many black people from voting up until this time. The Fair Housing Act (1968) banned discrimination in housing.
Some progress has definitely been made in the situation of black people in America since the 1960s. The „Black is Beatiful“ movement of the late sixties and early seventies aimed to make African Americans more proud of being black, and since then more and more black people have enjoyed success in the world of politics, sports and entertainment.
One of the greatest success storys has been that of Barack Obama, who became the first black President of the United States in January 2009. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X laid the foundation for this with their fight for the rights of African Americans in the United States.
However, racial inequality is still a fact. Poverty is more widespread among black Americans and many black people still face prejudice and discrimination in their everyday lives. Moreover, the number of incidents of police violence against members of the black population, in particular against young black men, has increased greatly in the last few years. As a protest against the police shootings of unarmed black youths, three young black women started the „Black Lives Matter“ campaign in 2013 to draw attention to racial discrimination by the police. The campaign has attracted millions of followers, in particular via social media, including many celebrities.
„I can’t breathe“: In 2020, another African-American was killed in a police operation in front of a running camera in the US – the images of George Floyd’s last minutes went around the world and caused consternation. The Black Lives Matter movement grew louder and bigger than ever. Nonetheless, widespread racism against African Americans remain an issue that undermines the development of their social status in the United States.
Sources: – https://www.britannica.com/topic/African-American/The-civil-rights-movement – https://www.merkur.de/politik/black-lives-matter-bewegung-hashtag-rassismus-afroamerikaner-polizeigewalt-13786901.html – my old school documents