Reflection Paper: African Americans and Whites

1033 words | 4 page(s)

An initial impression emerges that has to do with sentiments of belonging. It is in this sense that both African Americans and Whites in Mississippi feel they are part of the land. While this is quickly replaced by ambivalence related to ensuing change, it just may be that White reaction to such radical changes pertaining to equality will ultimately diminish their connection to the land; a connection that had been forged through dominance. This is explicitly expressed by representatives of the White Citizen’s Council, whose reaction to the civil rights movement is to articulate their interests in Mississippi as being vested. Considering the perspective of the White power structure in the state, and over a century of power and control, the vested interests of Whites in Mississippi were being threatened. What seems obvious is the sense that, at the time, Jim Crow was alive in Mississippi and it was articulated in a way that was quite similar to South African apartheid. This becomes increasingly obvious as increased attempts were made to prevent African Americans from voting. The White power structure was not only willing to pass legislation preventing African Americans from reaching the polls, but it also appears that they were very willing to sanction violence and death.

This is an incredible period in the history of this country because it is a time that marks attempts by citizens to affect social and political change. The story presented in this episode is about sensing that history was on the side of change but that it would not come easy. Reactions by Whites in Mississippi were to fight such changes through any means necessary. In a way, the hatred of African Americans seemed almost pathological, thus somewhat understandable. Their universe, the world in which they had inhabited since birth would no longer be. Understanding how tragically wrong they were, it is not without some degree of empathy that this recognition is articulated. The world where equality was sanctioned was clashing with a closed world where no such equality existed. Whites in Mississippi had established an environment equal to tyranny, a state that was savage and uncivilized.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Reflection Paper: African Americans and Whites".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

The Freedom Summer had to be. Primarily led by African American and White college students, the Freedom Summer is a wonderful example of how change may be affected. While we may argue about differences between college students in the 1960s and today, it really does seem that during the period college students were far more engaged and committed to society and politics. Perhaps those differences are a function of history, perhaps there has not been social or political issues that have come forth today worthy of such energy and commitment. Where people lose their lives for principals and beliefs central such historical causes such as equality and civil rights. No support was forthcoming from the government, the movement understood that support had to come from college campuses throughout the country. Eventually, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) emerges, successfully disrupting politics and the Democratic Party and affecting political process changes that remain in effect to this day. This too had to be attempted because where would Mississippi’s African Americans go to express their grievances, and exercise their rights as American citizens? Politics as usual had to change, both in Mississippi as well as nationally, and in order to ensure that future African Americans would have the same rights as Whites in Mississippi and throughout this country, the efforts of the MFDP had to occur when they did. They seemed to have actually been quite successful.

Lessons can be learned here concerning the guile of politicians in their attempts to flourish and survive politically. It would seem that President Johnson’s attempts to quash the efforts of the MFDP while at the Democratic national convention contrast with the image of a President concerned and supportive of civil rights. The backroom attempts to first prevent the MFDP from accessing the convention and then striking a compromise is extremely disconcerting and should be discussed at length by students in courses such as this. We should seek out other, more recent examples, of when politicians act in their own interests instead of those of most citizens. Their struggle for equality was met at the time by violence in their home state, and ambivalence by those who could exact change relatively swiftly. The title of this program is so appropriate because it describes how closed Mississippi was at the time, and how seemingly alienated it was from most of the country; Mississippi was more similar to South Africa.

The history of Mississippi seems so closely tied to the land, and the struggle to gain civil rights in the state maybe has a little to do with the connection between the people and the land they feel a part of. The connection is found in history and is carved by slavery and oppression. For African Americans the connection to the land comes through force, enslavement and severe stratification imposed upon them. For Mississippi Whites, history would prove to be the master, whose bidding could never be prevented. Change was eminent, and no amount of force or exercise power, exacting death would be enough. They too were connected to the land, but it was a connection built upon tyranny and White privilege. This seems painfully obvious, especially where the deaths of Medgar Evers and the three civil rights workers are concerned. The power structure in Mississippi at the time sought to neuter the movement even before it began in the state and it was felt that murder was the most effective means to do so. Whites did not have the same connection to the land as African Americans, because theirs was a connection based upon the blood of others. It is very difficult to imagine how living in Mississippi was during this period. The air throughout the state must have been charged with heightened intensity, as fear permeated towns and cities. This is a difficult yet pivotal time in the history of our country, and a testament to the spirit and fortitude of the thousands who played a role in fighting racist policies. This part of the documentary is quite riveting and substantial.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now