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Unfolding the American Racism Timeline: 1963 to Present

Since the advent of the 16th century, racism has proven to be an impossible issue in America. It stems from the slavery periods where the Blacks were subjected to inhumane conditions and denied their natural human rights. Following the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was abolished, but this period also marked a new age of racism known as the Jim Crow Era (Olick 205). Since then, American institutions have been steadily contributing to the thriving of racism in the country, which is why various movements appeared. The Great March on Washington, The Los Angeles Riot, and The Charlottesville Rally are events within different timelines, but they are all interrelated based on racism.

The Great March on Washington: 1963

One of the most significant events in America that marked the fight against racism was the Great March on Washington. The event was held on 28 March 1963, organized by Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, both staunch proponents of civil rights in America (Jones 63). Led by Martin Luther King, the event aimed to advocate for African Americans’ socio-economic interests (Jones 46). The march influenced the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Jones 118). Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act affected all social avenues in America, including race, religion, and national origin (Jones 212). It also prompted reforms aimed at outlawing the unequal system of applications in voter registration. Thus, the Great March of Washington was a significant moment in the fight against racism, and it directly addressed the oppression of African American community.

Los Angeles Uprising of 1992 and Its Connection to March 1963

The Los Angeles Uprising, also known as the Rodney King Riot, was an important event in the fight against racism in America. Reportedly, the riots, looting, and civil disturbances were prompted by the beating of Rodney King, a taxi driver, in Los Angeles (Baldasare 103). Five White policemen accosted King on a highway and continuously struck him using their side-held batons (Baldasare 105). The footage that captured the incident immediately attracted media attention and urged the rallying of activists in Los Angeles and other places in America.

The Los Angeles protest indicated that despite the Civil Rights reforms, racism was still prevalent in American institutions. Notably, one major aspect deliberated after the Washington March was racial equality (Baldasare 201). However, the use of excessive force by the police on an unarmed Black person demonstrated that, in reality, equality was not being implemented. Furthermore, during that period, most people sent to jail were members of the Black community (Baldasare 154). Reportedly, most Blacks were incarcerated for distributing drugs and committing violent crimes (Baldasare 154). It is also evident that the promotion of inequality continued directly after the Civil Rights movement, which can be seen in the example of the assassination of Martin Luther King by James Earl Ray, a White man, which happened shortly afterward (Baldasare 207). Thus, the developments in the beating of King by the police were only reflective of how African American rights continued to be undermined in the 90s, which is exactly what prompted the Great March on Washington back in 1963.

It is also notable that Los Angeles Uprising, similar to the Civil Rights March on Washington, brought the role of the United States Justice Department to public scrutiny. This institution was repeatedly accused of exercising mass incarcerations by targeting Black communities, especially during the period of King’s beating by the police (Baldasare 154). The 1992 riot also prompted more reforms in the police and justice departments to uphold justice. Thus, the aspect of a flawed justice system was evident in both events.

Recent Event: Charlottesville Rally

One of the events that marked the continued existence of racism in America was the Charlottesville Rally/Unite the Right Rally, which took place on 13 May 2017. Right-Wing groups marched carrying tiki torches and chanting racist slogans (Selod 207). President Donald Trump refused to condemn or denounce the White supremacy group in response to the event. More importantly, the developments reflect the same problems noted during Washington March and Los Angeles Uprising (Olick, 2015). Specifically, just like in those two events, the administrative authority was on the frontline as the influencer of racism by igniting it further during Charlottesville Rally. Therefore, in traditional and contemporary American societies, authority figures have instigated racism.

Personal Perspective on the Evolution of Racism

Judging from the developments between the Washington March to the Charlottesville Rally, it is evident that the problem of racism continues to be relevant in America. In the first two events, racism was evident due to segregation and massive imprisonments of Black people, while in the contemporary world, White supremacists are free to march in the streets and chant racist slogans. Furthermore, similar to the past, such developments have led to the introduction of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA, which fight against oppression. Thus, it is evident that despite all marches and legislations, racism still poses a problem and might have even worse impacts in the future.

By tracking the events from the Washington March to Charlottesville Rally, it is obvious that the level of racism in America continues to be alarming. The situation has remained unchanged despite decades of fights for equality because racism is propagated at the institutional level. Only by making the necessary changes in the administrative units, the American government would be able to help address racism in America.

📎 References:

1. Baldassare, Mark, et al. The Los Angeles riots: Lessons for the urban future. Urban Policy Changes.1st ed., Westview Press, 1994.
2. Jones, William P. The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights. WW Norton & Company, 2013.
3. Olick, Jeffrey K. “From the Memory of Violence to the Violence of Memory.” Remembrance and Solidarity Studies in 20th-Century European History, edited by Florin Abraham and Réka Földváryné Kiss, Institute of European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, no. 6, 2018, pp. 205–217.
4. Selod, Saher. “Islamophobia and Racism in America.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, vol. 47, no. 5, 2018, pp. 607–609.

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