Historical Essay Example: African American Migration and the Civil War

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The quote by Patricia J. Williams means that the African Americans were never satisfied according to the context of black migration and the civil rights victories. For one reason or the other, great black migration was experienced between 1916 through 1970 due to unsatisfactory economic opportunities in the south. The desire for industrialization forced a majority of the blacks to move from the rural south to the cities located in the North, Midwest, and west of America. The reality during this era was that parts of America especially the North and West regions were more developed than the south thus offering more opportunities for development (Cashman, 1991). Segregation on the basis of racism existed because the Native Americans had a higher opportunity of securing jobs in their land. The great migration experienced from 1930 through 1970 also gave an opportunity for the Americans to have human resource regarding the high demand for industrial workers in the northern regions. According to the context of civil rights, the blacks expected to have equal opportunities as the whites that were highly opposed. In the industries, the African Americans also experienced harsh segregationist laws, and that made them feel isolated from opportunities (Cashman, 1991). From the context of high black migration, the whites expected that they were satisfied after securing jobs that gave them economic opportunities that lacked in the rural south. The blacks also thirsted for equal social, political, and cultural opportunities even after being given a chance to be industrial workers rather than farmers. The desire for equality, therefore explains the quote by J. Williams.

It is unrealistic that African Americans believed that the United States was a place that would embrace equality regarding political, social, and economic activities. For one reason, the context of great migration was facilitated by the demand for industrial workers and not need for equality (Clayton, 2006). If the Whites had enough workforces to work in the industries, then the blacks could not have obtained the opportunity of occupying the north. It was then unrealistic for them to demand equal cultural opportunities just like the whites. Again, it was unrealistic for the African Americans to demand equal rights concerning living spaces in the foreign land. The whites dominantly occupied the north, and they had the right to protect their land as proposed by their culture. The whites gave them an opportunity for the industrial opportunity which they expected to be enough for them, but their demand for land and equal living was highly politicized to be unrealistic. For another reason, it was politically right to secure their native land, and secondly, the whites tried to protect their future endurance. Another reason was the next competition that was a threat to their generations to come if the African Americans occupied their land. Another political issue why the demand by African Americans was unrealistic was that after the abolition of the slave trade that became successful after the first reconstruction of America it was now believed that they had equal opportunities just like the Americans (Clayton, 2006). The second reconstruction on civil rights seemed to be a threat to the nation according to the leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and other leaders who proposed that this movement prompted gains for the African Americans (Marable, 2005).

From a political interest of the Americans during the great migration and the civil rights movements, it is again unrealistic for the blacks to demand equal opportunities to resources. The blacks were interested in making an urban culture for themselves to exert enormous influence for their future generation. Although they faced economic, political, and social challenges, the blacks should have gained their interests through the social activities such as marriage. According to the quote by J. Williams, it is true that the north was a place of hope for the blacks and this was an equal opportunity for them. Again, from the fact that their lifestyles were changed after the economic transition, they had no right to demand additional resources and land. The economic revolution for the African American, therefore, was a great opportunity for them thus making it unrealistic to believe that the US was a place to embrace equality (Sweet, 2005).

From another perspective of the civil rights context, Williams quote is an unusually pessimistic one following the social rights that African American demanded in the second reconstruction (Marable, 2005). During the era of the great migration of the blacks moved to the north to gain equal economic opportunities, they were faced with social issues that portrayed discrimination. As a matter of fact, after the first reconstruction to abolish the slave trade, the whites in the south took control of the region where the blacks were discriminated even under the law on the basis of race. According to the context of civil rights movement, in 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for failing to offer a white man a seat on a city bus (Chappell, 2006). This issue caught the blacks attention on social opportunities. For one reason or the other, it was equally right for the African American lady to possess the seat because they should have equal opportunities to such services. Humiliating and segregating the blacks not to access services open to the public described the racial torture experienced during the slavery thus opposing the quote by J. Williams. It is unrealistic for denying the African American equal social opportunities (Chappell, 2006). Social rights as compared to the cultural and political rights for the blacks, the quote is unrealistic on the basis that they both deserve equal opportunities to interact and access services.

In conclusion, both tensions should be given equal attention because, during the era, America was under reconstruction. The African Americans gained a lot after the first reconstruction to abolish slavery, but this wasnt enough for them. Equality concerning their political interest meant that they wanted a chance to rule a foreign land which is very unrealistic. Concerning their economic interests, the great migration as facilitated by demand for industrial workers in the north but this didnt mean that even the white collar jobs that required expertise and professionalism could be given to them. Concerning the social equality, their life in the south was different from what was in the north, and therefore they were supposed to accept the transition. Although the blacks faced discrimination, segregation, and equal opportunities to things like education and employment, this is acceptable since to the two groups had distinct cultures. Additionally, cultural equality meant that one group was supposed to adopt another groups culture where the whites were not willing because they are the Native dwellers. Following the above reasons, therefore, it is truly impractical for the African American to believe that the US was a place that would embrace equality regarding their political, social, cultural, and economic interest.



Cashman, S. D. (1991). African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990. New York: NYU Press.

Chappell, K. (January 01, 2006). Remembering Rosa Parks: The life and legacy of 'The mother of the Civil Rights Movement'. Ebony, 2006, 2006, 126-128.

Clayton, N. (March 01, 2006). Managing the Transition to a Free Labor Society: American Interpretations of the British West Indies during the Civil War and Reconstruction. American Nineteenth Century History, 7, 1, 89-108.

Marable, M. (2005). "The Cold War in black America, 1945-1954" and "The demand for reform.". Ann Arbor, Mich: ProQuest Information and Learning.

Sweet, F. A. (January 01, 2005). American painting before the Civil War. College Art Journal / College Art Association of America, 190-194.


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