The purpose of Jim Crow was to keep African Americans subjugated at a level as close as possible to their former slave status. Exceeding even South Africa's notorious apartheid in the humiliation, degradation, and suffering it brought, Jim Crow left scars on the American psyche that are still felt today. American Nightmare examines and explains Jim Crow from its beginnings to its end: how it came into being, how it was lived, how it was justified, and how, at long last, it was overcome only a few short decades ago. Most importantly, this book reveals how a nation founded on principles of equality and freedom came to enact as law a pervasive system of inequality and virtual slavery.
Although America has finally consigned Jim Crow to the historical graveyard, Jerrold Packard shows why it is important that this scourge--and an understanding of how it happened--remain alive in the nation's collective memory.
Among the subjects covered here are the origins of legal inequality for African Americans in the aftermath of the Civil War; the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in weakening constitutional protections against discrimination established in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; the white justification of segregation; and the extreme brutality of Jim Crow's defenders. Equally important, readers will learn about the psychological, political, social, and economic costs endured by the victims of Jim Crow inequality, as well as about the motivations, rejections, and successes faced by those who stood against these abominations.
After the Civil War, freed slaves fought to overcome the still-prevailing prejudice and persecution. During this phase, Marcus Garvey led the Back to Africa movement, promoting Black Nationalism and black pride among the newly freed people.
And in the 1960s, a strong civil rights movement branched in two different directions. The first was headed by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who organized a powerful nonviolent civil disobedience movement to win equal rights through integration. Following a very different path, Malcolm X sought equal rights for blacks through violent confrontation and racial separation.
Together, these four men shaped the American civil rights movement. Racism is still a very relevant problem in our country today, and to better understand where we are now and how to make progress in the future, we must first understand where we’ve come from.
The essays are designed to be clear and engaging; they capture the conflict and drama of the Civil Rights movement as they present an analysis of its main features. Following a narrative overview of the movement, five analytical essays address these topics: the origins of the movement; the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi; the fight for legal equality, with a discussion aimed at fostering a better understanding of the current debate over affirmative action; the role played by women in the movement; and an analysis of the legacy of the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 1960s. These essays are followed by biographical profiles of 20 civil rights activists, from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X to Ella Jo Baker and Bayard Rustin. The guide includes 15 primary documents, ranging from addresses by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, to speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Carmichael, Malcolm X, and George Wallace. A selection of photos complements the text. This one-stop reference source offers not only a starting point for students research but analysis that raises issues still being debated today.