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The history of African Americans began in 1619 when they came to America in the capacity of slaves. Thereafter, dark skin became a mark of inferiority. However, the bumpy times for African Americans started with the legalization of the slavery. The usage of slave labor by white people spread through the whole continent. The demand for the free workforce was especially high in the South due to a well-developed plantation system there. In 1808, a ban on slave trade came out. However, slave traders smuggled over 300,000 Africans to the southern part of the American continent between1808-1861 (Hansen, 2005). The white people treated African Americans harshly and even used force against them. The owners often separated families when they resold their slaves. Obviously, the slaves were deprived of any human rights and freedoms. Only in 1865, after the Civil War, the slavery came to an end. Nevertheless, the racial discrimination kept going, and soon Americans started the process of segregation. They organized segregated public places for African Americans in order to limit the contact with them in everyday life (Masionis, 2012).
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The long times of slavery and suffering from racial discrimination left their footprints on the political, social, and cultural development of African American community. Without an opportunity to gain literacy and education, African Americans managed to promote oral tradition, which became the only way to preserve their unique traditions. In the 1920-1930s, the Harley Renaissance took place, which was actually the first incitement to the cultural development. The first artists ppeared and made their contributions to literature, art, and music. The writer Langston Hughes, musicians Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong became popular then (Masionis, 2012). Furthermore, that was the period of the revival in political activity. The foundation of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Negro Improvement Association at that time became one of the major steps towards racial equality. Then The Black Art Movement during the 1960-1970s continued the ongoing improvement.
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After applying enormous efforts to beat racial segregation, the fighters for its abolition gained some results. In 1954, the victory in the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas stopped the segregation in public education and initiated the Fourteen Amendment to the US Constitution. This case stimulated a series of demonstrations and marches devoted to the civil rights movement. Then it was the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which prohibited the discrimination of any kind: racial, religious, and national. A year later, in 1965, the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act which enabled African Americans to vote. In 1968, the government signed the Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination in such spheres as sale, financing, and housing. All these acts gave African Americans the rights they had been deprived of for long years (Hansen, 2005).
The NAACP played a significant role in the movement for civil rights at that time. The representatives of the organization gained many great legal victories. They also made their contribution to the promoting of Civil Rights Acts by defending civil rights of African Americans. The lawyers of NAACP spoke for African Americans in the court. The organization advocated the unbiased attitude to its clients and applied great efforts to uproot any kind of segregation. Another way of NAACP’s active participation in the fight for equality was lobbying the Congress, which also brought about desirable changes. Consequently, all these changes reached considerable scale and led to further social reforms. Today, NAACP keeps pursuing social justice by means of addressing authorities and solving discrimination cases at different levels: from the local to the state (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 2012).
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Despite the fact that African Americans have gained a lot on their way from slavery to the fight for civil rights, there are still many issues to be solved. Firstly, it is the lack of education, as due to the insufficient amount of schools on urban territories, many children stay at home and are thus deprived of educational opportunities. Secondly, it is the constantly growing rate of crime. Thirdly, African Americans earn less than the white citizens, which leads to another burning issue which is poverty. Moreover, the issue of racial discrimination is not ruled out completely. In spite of numerous attempts at full assimilation, African Americans are still in the minority. The acts of prejudice and discrimination towards them still appear which means that their struggle for racial equality continues. Therefore, African Americans have lots to do in order to ensure their full equality in modern American society.
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