Equality and Civil Rights Movement
Thesis DT 3.5 1981 T945
vi, 126 leaves; 29 cm.
When one examines the condition of the Black community it is apparent that integration and equality have not become a reality for the majority of Afro-Americans. This fact raises an important question which this thesis addresses: What were the limitations which rendered the Civil Rights Movements ineffective in its quest for integration and equality?
The method of analysis used to answer this question is that of Black political economy. This method of analysis was chosen because it best defined the relationship Afro-Americans have had with the political and economic system of capitalist America. An analysis of this type is important because it examines the exploitation and subordination of Afro-Americans as a class and as a colony within the United States whose main exportable commodity-labor - has been exploited for the benefit of the colonizer- white America. This exploitative relationship has led to a situation where the Black community has been underdeveloped, economically and politically. In this context, Black political economy illuminates a particular relationship between the Civil Rights Movement and the capitalist society.
The gathering of data for this thesis has entailed extensive utilization of the library for a variety of secondary and primary sources. Whenever possible I have tried to rely on historical research done by others. My primary purpose was to use this information to bring a different analysis to the Civil Rights Movement. That is, one that probed for the limitations of the organizations and their leadership. Unlike previous studies of the Movement, e.g. Thomas Brooks' Walls Come Tumbling Down: A History of the Civil Rights Movement 1940-1970; and John Herber's The Lost Priority, which summarizes the Movement in a historical and topical manner, this study attempts to illuminate a particular orientation by the leadership as the reason for the Movement's ability to achieve true equality.
In the course of this thesis several conclusions are offered which hopefully add to existing body of knowledge on the Movement. Perhaps the most basic and undisputable conclusion is that the Movement failed in its pursuit of equality and justice for Afro-Americans. What may be more debatable is the conclusion that this failure was the result of a particular orientation on the part of the Movement's leaders and organizations. That is, an orientation or perspective of America as a basically egalitarian and democratic society which only needed to have its moral dilemma exposed in order to accept Blacks. As such, this orientation placed the blame for injustice and inequality on a few immoral souls, not the capitalist system of exploitation and subordination. This orientation in turn severely limited the demands to subjective conditions of inequality, that is, attitudes and moral conscience.
Another facet of this 'crisis of orientation', was the Movement's perspective of the economic and political problems of the Black community for the myopic level of the middle-class. The result was a limited program of economic and political reform which allowed the middle-class to flourish and expand. This myopia concealed the fact that the majority of Afro-Americans continued to exist at or below the poverty level.
Finally, the Movement's orientation was instrumental in its role as the 'buffer' between the capitalist society and the Black colony. Unable to see past the egalitarian rhetoric of the capitalist society, the Movement has continued to support the policies and politics of a society run by the rich, of the rich, and for the rich. In this way, the Movement maintains its existence.