Worthy of a Name
Identity is a luxury provided only to those willing to wage a war in hopes of obtaining a place and a name in this wide world. We can make our own identities, shape our own fate, be who we want to be if we are willing to accept the pain and suffering that is a symptom of change. We are Americans because we overcame our oppressors and claimed this land for our own. Without our identities, our cultures, our connections, our foundations, we are nothing. The morals of society dictate us as nonexistent and justly dismiss us from its library of equal recognition and approval. It is only when we venture forth into the world to claim what is rightfully ours that we may be deemed a “thing”. This war has been waged by many; most significantly by the African American. Buried deep in the history of our great nation lies a battle not of country and country but one of race and race, a journey for justice, a rebellion for rights, a fight for freedom; The Civil rights Movement. These names, these places in history are given only to the strong-willed and brave-hearted. To what extent did the African American have to venture to obtain their place in this country and this world?
Africans in America have struggled through history to obtain their equal right as American citizens; more importantly as African Americans. “The African American experience cannot be told in one story or even a hundred, for it is a living experience, ever changing, ever growing, ever becoming richer.” (Myers ix) Their war began well before the identifiable Civil Rights Movement, back in the years of slavery and true racial oppression. “Some hundreds of years ago an African was brought to the shores of North America…He was worked and beaten, humiliated and subjected to the will of people willing to exploit him.”(Myers x) The Civil Rights Movement, however, burst onto the historic background of America in the mid 1950’s. BY this time, African Americans have long defeated the laws legalizing slavery and have begun their march towards equality in rights. This journey consisted of more than just those select individuals that history has made prominent, this struggle for an equal identity was laid upon the shoulders of an entire race of men and women. Among these soldiers of identity is Oliver Brown of Topeka, Kansas and his little girl Linda Brown.
Segregation in schools still reigned on into the 1950’s even though African Americans had earned their right to an equal education many years prior. One case in particular occurred in Topeka, Kansas where “Linda Brown, a seven year old black girl, had to cross a dangerous set of railroad tracks at a switching yard and then board a run down bus to take her to a segregated school…” (Wexler 35). Oliver Brown, Linda’s father, “sued the Topeka school board, claiming that to segregate the children was harmful to the children and, therefore, a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (Myers 251) This court case eventually rose to the Supreme Court where the case was listed as Brown vs. Board. Through many tedious years of strife, litigation, and constitutional debate between the courts and African American supported organizations, The Supreme Court ruled that public schools would no longer be legally segregated. However, there were still aspects of society dictated by racial segregation and public transportation was one that African Americans would no longer stand for…
Several years after the Supreme Courts’ decision in Brown vs. Board; Rosa Parks was on her way home from a long day of work. “All that day she worked hard at a Montgomery department store pinning up hems, raising waistlines and carry dresses back and forth.” (Wexler 67) When on her bus ride home, the bus driver requested all colored folk move to the back; Parks did not move. She stood her ground against the segregation of public transport on that day and she paid the