Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Civil Rights myths

According to T.V. Reed, there where a number of misconceptions concerning the Civil Rights movement.  In the next few paragraphs I will identify two of these myths in relaiton to what I was taught to believe about the Civil rights movement.
One of the myths Reed believes many people have come to accept was that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not only started the civil rights movement, but he led it all by himself (Reed pg.2).  Reed explains that although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a significant figure int he movement, he was only one of many who were not given credit at all in their efforts.
After reading Reed's reasons for calling King's role in the movement a myth, I couldn't help but to remember what and who I alwasys automatically thought of when the movement was brought up.  To my surprise King always did stant out.  Had I not read that par tof Reeds book, I would not have realized how many women and organizations had contributed to the civil rights movement.  Women like Ella Baker, Septima Clark and Fannie Lou Hammer were just a few key leaders in the movement.  There where great organizations that were founded during these times.  The NAACP, SCLC and SNCC were just a few among the many.  Thes organizations contribute heavily without national leaders like King (Reed pg. 3).
Reed brings a number of myths to mind, but his so called myth about the role of whites in the movement being exaggerated, didn't resignate with me.  Reed believes that this focus on white peoples role in the movement is part of an underlying scheme to cover up the continuing racism in the U.S. society (Reed pg. 4).
I would definitely have to challentge that myth based on what I was taught growing up.  Just like I was unaware of the many female leaders and organizations that contributed to the movement, I was also unaware of the signigicance of many caucasians during the movement.  I believe that we do need to learn about everyone that contributed to this cause despite gender, race and age.
Reading Reed's myth about the civil rights movement really did help me to sit back and reflect on my own knowledge about this prominent time in history.  I realized that I actually knew much less than I thought.

1 comment:

  1. That's really interesting - a lot of students seem to have had your experience, that the role of whites wasn't emphasized in your experience. I think sometimes the same information can sometimes be interpreted in different ways: the role of whites in the movement can be looked at as a great story about how all people can come to believe in justice regardless of their background. Or, if told in a different way, it can be a story about one group doing something for another, ignoring the ways African-Americans organized for their own rights.