1963: The Hope That Stemmed From the Fight for Equality


There is a desire in every person\'s inner being to strive for equality.
The fight for equalization has existed throughout time. Jews, Negroes, women,
and homosexuals are examples of those who have been inspired to fight for equal
rights, for justice, and for freedom. The struggle for black equality was the
event that turned the United States of America upside down. For over two
centuries, Negroes have struggled to work their way up the ladder to ultimate
parity. Methods for obtaining this equality differed over the years. Escaping
slaves, underground railroads, court cases, demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches
all played into the ever-complicating history of this struggle.
The intense hatred of whites for Negroes grew out of the Civil War. One
of the reasons for the war was the issue of slavery. When the Confederates lost
the war, their position in the political world was taken away. Any position
held by someone connected with the Confederacy was given to a northern man. In
many cases, the new man was a Negro. The Negroes did not have the opportunity
for equality long. After a few years relations between the north and the south
were restored, and the position was taken away from the Negroes and given back
to white men. In the time that the Negroes occupied these positions, southern
whites developed a deep hatred and animosity for Negroes. From that day forward
the strain between blacks and whites grew.
Racial discrimination appeared to be eternally present. Hope looked
slim as the years wore on, and little progress was made toward freedom. Tension
came to a head in 1963 as Negroes grew tired of silent acceptance of racial
discrimination. Demonstrations, sit-ins, peace talks, and marches graced the
front pages of the newspapers in major cities in the south and in the north.
The hope of a future for African-American people in America was greatly affected
by the struggles and persecution they endured during the year 1963.
The struggles started in the hearts of every black person alive. The
feelings began with children as they were called "niggers", and as they were
beat up upon by white children. The opportunity to fight back wasn\'t given, nor
was it taught in Negro homes. As jobs were gained in the white world,
discrimination grew. Striving for excellence and higher knowledge of the trade
was forbidden and punishable by the loss of the job. Anger and bitterness grew
in hearts until they knew it was time to act as a people.
In order to properly view the hope that resulted from 1963\'s events, the
events themselves must be looked at. As the actions of the Negroes became more
prominent, the white hatred for them increased steadily. Harrison and Salsbury
portrayed it well. "Every channel of communication, every medium of mutual
interest, every reasoned approach, every inch of middle ground has been
fragmented by the emotional dynamite of racism reinforced by the whip, the razor,
the gun, the bomb, the torch, the club, the knife, the mob, the police, and many
branches of the state\'s apparatus." (275) The southern city in the greatest
spotlight was Birmingham, Alabama. It provided a graphic view of the conditions
common in cities all over the country. Staged sit-ins at segregated lunch
counters started off as the main form of demonstration. The police rushed in
and tried to take control, but with the reoccurrence of this act came the
withdrawal of the police forces on the scene. Lunch counters simply closed down.

The next form of battle was mass demonstration. In these mass
demonstration marches thousands of people gathered in the churches where they
were given instructions by prominent Negro leaders. From there they flooded the
main streets of Birmingham singing, "We shall overcome" ("Tension Growing Over
Race Issues" 37). Thousands were jailed, including men, women, teenagers, and
children. This did not stop the Negroes. As the demonstration marches
continued, police took to more drastic measures. The reports in the Life
magazine read like this:

"With vicious guard dogs the police attacked the marchers -- and thus rewarded
them with an outrage that would win support all over the world for Birmingham
Negroes. If the Negroes themselves had written the script, they could hardly
have asked for greater help for their cause than City Police Commissioner Eugene
"Bull" Connor freely gave. Ordering his men to let white spectators come near,
he said: "I want \'em to see the dogs work. Look at those niggers run." This
extraordinary sequence -- Brutal as it is as a Negro gets