Racial Disparity and Response

Anonymous
timer Asked: Jan 20th, 2021

Question Description

Part 1: From the brief Youtube film on Birth of a Nation, identify three reasons why the film was so successful and five reasons as to why it was inaccurate. Be careful; a reason for the film's success is not that it was regarded as a "masterpiece" - what made it a masterpiece? As for the inaccuracies, be specific; the film is clearly "racist," but how are racist views presented by promoting inaccurate depictions of African-Americans or even white people?

Part 2: Aside from Birth of a Nation, what are two other challenges that the NAACP had to face in its initial years? In each of your responses, include a brief passage from the excerpt you read from Langston Hughes' Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights to help support what you are asserting.

Youtube film: https://youtu.be/elVUwReHaAk

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Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. The First Decade 35 carefully planned as these revolts indicate, were sown long before physical freedom came. The earliest Negro organizations permitted by white Americans were religious. Although slaveholders in some communities permitted Negroes to have churches, in most of the South any gathering of Negroes whatsoever was prohibited. Such regulations were enforced with special vigor after the great revolts of the 1800’s; as a result, even religious organizations were almost impossible. But prior to 1800 there were Negro churches in Virginia and Georgia, and in 1805 a Negro Baptist church existed at Mound Bayou, Mississippi. From these Negro churches eventually developed fraternal, social, and civic organizations, with the church serving as a meeting place. In general, however, Negro churches and their pastors were looked upon with disfavor by whites in the slaveholding states, because any organization of Negroes could be dangerous. Indeed, any persons concerned with ameliorating the lot of the Negro were suspect by those seeking to maintain the status quo—just as today the NAACP is suspect by those who resist change. Before the NAACP The earliest active groups of Negro people to band together openly on behalf of Negro rights had, perforce, to be in the North. The first National Negro Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1830. Its concern was “the oppression of our brethren in a country whose republican constitution declares ‘that all men are born free and equal.’ ” And its assembled delegates earnestly requested “brethren throughout the United States to co-operate with us by forming societies auxiliary to the Parent Institution.” For a number of years thereafter, these National Conventions concerned with race relations were held regularly; although largely attended by Negroes, eventually some prominent whites, such as the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, took part. Interestingly enough, more than a hundred years before the NAACP secured its epoch-making school desegregation decision from the United States Supreme Court, Negro delegates meeting at Troy, New York, in 1847 urged Negro students to seek admission to white colleges. In 1849 a State Convention of Colored Citizens of Ohio resolved to aid escaped slaves. Further, it asked for educational rights “in common with others, for we pay school taxes in the same proportion,” and it stated its belief that Negroes were “entitled to all privileges—moral, EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. 36 Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights mental, political and social—to which other men attain.” In subsequent years numerous regional Negro organizations having much the same objectives came into being—except that after Emancipation, slavery itself was no longer an issue. The conditions of life for Negroes after the brief period of promise during Reconstruction were in many ways almost as unbearable as under slavery. The white-robed Ku Klux Klan spread violence up and down the highways of the South. Peonage reduced Negro workers to nearbondage again, mobs drove Negro voters from the polls, and the lynch rope kept Negro men from being men. The problems of self-protection, the ballot, civil rights, and full freedom occupied their attention from the First California Negro Convention in 1855 through the Convention of Colored Men of Texas in 1883, the meetings of the Young Men’s Progressive Association of New Orleans in 1878, and the Macon, Georgia, Consultation Convention in 1888, to the National Afro-American League founded at Chicago in 1890. Each new Negro organization found itself faced over the years with the same old problems—the tragically tangled skein of race relations—that the NAACP is still trying to solve today. The Niagara Movement Even so scholarly a group as the American Negro Academy, founded in Washington in 1897 with the express purpose of “the promotion of literature, science and art,” found itself impelled to include among its objectives “the defense of the Negro against vicious assault.” For the word assault might literally mean physical attack against even intellectuals of color. Fresh in the memories of those framing the Academy’s initial statement might well have been the expulsion from Memphis of Ida B. Wells, a brilliant young Negro journalist whose newspaper offices were demolished after she exposed the names of various members of a lynch mob. Among the founding members of the American Negro Academy was William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. It was Du Bois who in 1905 issued a personal call from Atlanta: The time seems more than ripe for organized, determined and aggressive action on the part of men who believe in Negro freedom and growth. . . . I write you to propose a conference during the coming summer for the following purposes: 1. To oppose firmly the present methods of EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. The First Decade 37 strangling honest criticism, manipulating public opinion and centralizing political power by means of the improper and corrupt use of money and influence. 2. To organize thoroughly the intelligent and honest Negroes throughout the United States for the purpose of insisting on manhood rights, industrial opportunity and spiritual freedom. 3. To establish and support proper organs of news and public opinion. As a result of the Du Bois proposal there assembled at Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side because no hotels were open to Negroes on the American side) a group of 29 Negro professional men, ministers, editors, and teachers from various parts of the country. They formed an organization known as the Niagara Movement. At its second annual meeting a year later (held at Harpers Ferry in tribute to the militant abolitionist, John Brown), more than 100 prominent Negroes were present. Du Bois stated their objectives in his keynote speech: “We want full manhood suffrage and we want it now. . . . We want discrimination in public accommodation to cease. . . . We claim the right of freemen to walk, talk, and be with them that wish to be with us. . . . We want the Constitution of the country enforced. . . . We want our children educated. . . . And here on the scene of John Brown’s martyrdom we reconsecrate ourselves, our honor, our property to the final emancipation of the race which John Brown died to make free. . . . We are men! We will be treated as men. And we shall win.” The members of the Niagara Movement held their third meeting in historic Faneuil Hall in Boston in 1907. The following year public rallies were held in New York, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Washington. Meanwhile, there was in process of formation a group which enabled most members of the all-Negro Niagara Movement to join forces with a similar-minded band of white Americans dedicated to the same objectives. They met together in New York in 1909 in a National Negro Conference which within a year became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Half a Man The idea of the NAACP really began with a letter written by Mary White Ovington. A young social worker, free-lance writer, and humanitarian, Miss Ovington was also a woman of independent means who, beneath a most feminine exterior, had a will of her own. In the summer of 1906 she was assigned by the New York Evening Post to cover the second annual EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. 38 Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights meeting of the Niagara Movement. What she saw and heard at Harper’s Ferry impressed her deeply, for her concern over the years had become the same as that of the Negroes assembled there. When shortly before the turn of the century Mary White Ovington finished her studies at Radcliffe (then generally known as the Harvard Annex for Women), she assisted in establishing the Greenpoint Settlement in Brooklyn where for seven years she worked with the underprivileged. In 1904 she became a researcher on the staff of Manhattan’s Greenwich House, conducting a four-year survey of the Negro in New York City. This survey resulted in her first book, Half a Man, which revealed that there was a race problem not just in the South but in the North as well. Not only for purposes of her study but because of a deep interest in Negroes, especially children, Miss Ovington moved into the Tuskegee apartments on San Juan Hill. In this Negro neighborhood in Manhattan’s West Sixties bordering the infamous Hell’s Kitchen, there were racial skirmishes almost daily; sometimes even Negro children were attacked by older whites. Here all the problems of a segregated community became Miss Ovington’s problems—racial violence, inadequate police protection, the blindness of political officials to vice and crime, underpaid workers, the mothers whose work as domestic servants left their children with no one to look after them all day, the young people with aspirations but little to which they might aspire. Even in New York, the young social worker discovered, the Negro was half a man. Then Dr. Du Bois invited Miss Ovington to attend the Atlanta Conference at Atlanta University. In Georgia she first saw legal segregation— but she also met Negro men like Dr. Du Bois and Dr. Crogman who walked wherever they went in Atlanta rather than ride on the Jim Crow cars. She saw that city’s tumble-down shanties—“worse than New York’s tenements”—and the woefully inadequate schools for Negro children, and learned how voting restrictions kept Negro citizens from having any voice in politics. She noted that southern white men did not remove their hats when talking to Negro women, yet always did so in the presence of white women. She learned too that where prejudice was greatest, more Negroes had been forced to go into business for themselves, many with considerable success, but that white mobs had no more respect for Negroes who got ahead in business than they did for the poor and illiterate. When Miss Ovington visited Atlanta again in 1906 after the race riots, she saw the wreckage of Negro homes and businesses. In the rural EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. The First Decade 39 areas of Alabama she found sharecroppers working under conditions not unlike those of slavery. She learned how Negro women were abused by white men, and how Negro males, fighting to protect their women, might be lynched without anyone ever being punished for the crime. The horror of these conditions caused Miss Ovington to decide, as she later wrote, to “give what strength and ability I had to the problem of securing for the American Negro those rights and privileges into which every white American is born.” To this objective she devoted the rest of her life. Call to Action The letter which eventually led to the founding of the NAACP was written to William English Walling by Mary White Ovington immediately after she read his moving account of the Springfield, Illinois, race riots in the Independent. Walling’s story vividly described how for two days a mob surged through the streets of that city in the summer of 1908 looting and burning Negro homes; they lynched a Negro barber and an 84-year-old man for no reason at all except that the prisoners the whites were looking for were not in the jail. The mob seriously injured some 70 persons, and drove hundreds of Negroes from the city. All this violence occurred near the Lincoln mansion and less than two miles from the Great Emancipator’s grave. Walling concluded his article, which he called “Race War in the North,” by invoking “the spirit of the abolitionists, of Lincoln and of Lovejoy” to help alleviate the repressive conditions of the Negro. “Who realizes,” he asked, “the seriousness of the situation, and what large and powerful body of citizens is ready to come to their aid?” In her letter to Walling, Miss Ovington suggested that they explore what could be done to remedy the deplorable state of race relations in the North and South. In the decade preceding the Springfield riots there were over 1000 lynchings in the United States. In 1901 alone, 105 Negroes were publicly done to death by mobs in mass orgies of violence; they had no protection from the police and their lynchers were not brought to trial. Since 1900 an epidemic of race riots had swept the country from Texas and Georgia as far north as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, causing millions of dollars’ worth of property damage and killing or wounding hundreds of people. All this violence, added to the EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. 40 Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights everyday handicaps which Negroes already suffered, presented a dire picture indeed. To discuss this sorry situation, three people met in Walling’s apartment in Manhattan in the first week of the new year 1909. These three— Miss Ovington, a wealthy Northerner who had made a thorough study of racial problems; William English Walling, a southern journalist with liberal racial views; and Henry Moskovitz, a Jewish social worker—all were concerned with democracy and the Negro. They decided to issue a call for a conference to be signed by a number of prominent Americans. It would be released on February 12, 1909, the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Written by Oswald Garrison Villard of the New York Post, the call read in part: The Celebration of the Centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, widespread and grateful as it may be, will fail to justify itself if it takes no note of and makes no recognition of the colored men and women for whom the Great Emancipator labored to assure freedom. . . . If Mr. Lincoln could revisit this country in the flesh, he would be disheartened and discouraged. He would learn that on January 1, 1909, Georgia had rounded out a new confederacy by disfranchising the Negro, after the manner of all the other Southern States. He would learn that the Supreme Court of the United States, supposedly a bulwark of American liberties, had refused every opportunity to pass squarely upon this disfranchisement of millions. . . . He would learn that the Supreme Court . . . had laid down the principle that if an individual State chooses, it may “make it a crime for white and colored persons to frequent the same market place at the same time, or appear in an assemblage of citizens convened to consider questions of a public or political nature in which all citizens, without regard to race, are equally interested.” In many States Lincoln would see the black men and women, for whose freedom a hundred thousand soldiers gave their lives, set apart in trains, in which they pay first-class fares for third-class service, and segregated in railway stations and in places of entertainment; he would observe that State after State declines to do its elementary duty in preparing the Negro through education for the best exercise of citizenship. Added to this, the spread of lawless attacks upon the Negro, North, South, and West—even in the Springfield made famous by Lincoln . . . could but shock the author of the sentiment that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth.” Silence under these conditions means tacit approval. . . . Hence we call upon all the believers in democracy to join in a National Conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protests, and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 1/20/2021 2:35 AM via GLENDALE COMM COLLEGE AN: 113858 ; Hughes, Langston, De Santis, Christopher C..; Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights Account: s6534854 Copyright © 2001. University of Missouri Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. The First Decade 41 This document was signed by sixty persons of distinction—among them, Jane Addams, the famous founder of Hull House; Francis J. Grimké, Washington’s militant Negro minister; John Dewey of Columbia University; William Lloyd Garrison of Boston; the Reverend John Haynes Holmes; Alexander Walters, bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Rabbi Stephen S. Wise; Ida B. Wells Barnett; J. G. Phelps Stokes, the philanthropist; Lincoln Steffens, the famous journalist; Mary E. Woolley, president of Mount Holyoke College; Ray Stannard Baker; Mary Church Terrell; Lillian D. Wald; Brand Whitlock, mayor of Toledo; and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. Birth of the NAACP The conference that resulted from this call began on May 30, 1909, with an interracial reception at the Henry Street Settlement in New York, and ended on June 1 with a mass meeting at Cooper Union. From these sessions there emerged an organization called the National Negro Committee, consisting of 40 persons. It held four well-attended public meetings during the year and enrolled many additional members. At the second annual meeting of the National Negro Committee in May, 1910, a new name was chosen, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As such, the organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, and its purposes officially recorded: “To promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for their children, employment according to their ability, and complete equality befo ...
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