As the civil rights movements intensified, the US was very much involved in the Vietnamese war drafting many men to go and fight into the war. The white Americans had an enormous debate concerning the morality of Vietnam War. But the African Americans were generally opposed to the war. It was argued that the freedom of the Vietnamese people was not an issue concerning what the Americans were doing to the Black Americans (Anderson & Stewart 2007 pp 49). Like many other wars, those who were in the frontline during the war were the poorest majority of the United States-whites, brown and Africans.
Malcolm X had opposed the war in the early 1960s, and the SNCC and King also came to oppose the war later. The black Americans who were opposed to the war were however severely punished unlike the whites who opposed the war. For instance, the social worker Julian Bond who had been elected to the Georgia legislature had his seat denied for his opposition to the war. There was the reduction of the financial support to the civil rights activities, and the black civil rights activists started receiving notices (Kelly, Rees & Shuter 1998 pp 85).
During war time, the armies remained segregated and the Red Cross went as far as segregating blood as well. The civil rights movements had insisted on pursuing ‘double V’ i. e. victory against the American enemies abroad and victory against racial segregation in their own land. Many of the African Americans who were involved in the fights came home determined to change the racial segregation in their country (De Freitas, N. d para 14). In 1967, King gave the first speech that was entirely devoted to Vietnam.
He said, “We must combine the power of the civil rights movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, teach and preach until the very foundations of our nation are shaken,” (De Freitas, Para 33). This statement from king made other civil rights leaders who advocated for non violence to distance themselves from King. However many soldiers were dying in Vietnam War and King had to lead a protest to the UN headquarters to protest against the war. He also protested since he had been booed by the youths he was addressing when they felt that he had failed to deliver services they required.
A journalist commented that due to King’s actions, he was now closer to Malcolm than people had thought. But according to King, since he had labored for years bringing change to the South and it was not forthcoming, hence there was need for the reconstruction of the entire society i. e. a revolution of values. This could have been achieved by the nationalization of vital industries, granted income for the impoverished Americans and an end to slums (Cushman-wood, 1993 para 13). With the death of King many civil rights leaders were unable to organize any meaningful riots or protests.
The Black panthers were also not very influential. This gave the American Government room to deal with the situation in a brutal repression manner and apparent reform. Many Black Panther members were arrested and others jailed. One of the strategies that the Americans used was to buy off the civil rights leaders and expand the middle class level of the blacks. “Disguised as a reform, this was an attempt to promote a layer of blacks who having a state in the system would promote the ideas of that system.
Affirmative programs for example created new relatively high paid jobs for some black workers”, (De Freitas, N. d, para 41). There was thus an increase in the earnings of the top black workers in 1970s, business by the blacks also increased from 163,000 to 231,195 and between 1970 and 1975; twenty four black owned banks were established. The number of the black students entering the universities also increased from 75,000 in 1950 to 660,000 by 1976, (De Freitas N. d para 43). However, these gains were not very much beneficial to the majority black Americans.
They were used by the white Americans to cut off the black rebellions. Many of the civil rights leaders were thus absorbed into national, local and big businesses. The majority black Americans have not however benefited much as the civil rights leaders who were vocal in the movements, as several have had their economic conditions worsened since then. On the other hand, the civil rights movements gave the black Americans the democratic rights they had been denied since the reconstruction period.
More important, it gave the black society the potential of becoming more organized in their community and the entire society. The American civil rights movements left a permanent mark on the American society. It brought to an end the most overt forms of racial discrimination, also leading to the decline of racial violence. The American blacks were initially barred to hold public offices, after the civil rights activities, the blacks are nowadays elected to the public offices they had been forbidden.
Many of the blacks have also benefited from the economic conditions that were created after the civil rights movements. The movements also created room for the other minority groups to be able to advance for the rights, e. g. the Hispanics, the women, disabled, etc.
Reference: Anderson T R. & Stewart J (2007): Introduction to African Studies, Black Classic Press, ISBN 1580730396. Cushman-wood D (1993): Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X: Economic Insights and Influence, retrieved on 1st Dec. 2007 from www.socialistalternative.org.