The Agony and the Ecstasy: The Civil Rights Movement.
Throughout its history the United States has wrestled with civil rights issues. Even at this country's birth, its Founding Fathers incorporated the Three-Fifths Compromise, ending a dispute over slaves" votes, into the United States" very Constitution. Since 1863, at least fifty-eight riots in America have been related to racism (Duncan 6). Winona LaDuke tells of more than 1,000 tailings and slag piles from uranium mines dumped in Native American Din land (3). "Nearby the land is the largest coal strip mine in the world, and some Din teenagers have a cancer rate seventeen times the national average (3)." These crises and struggles for civil rights in the United States culminate in the 1960s, producing the Civil Rights Movement. Although it is called "The Civil Rights Movement," it is only a section of a greater American struggle for civil rights. This struggle occurred before, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement, and it has impacted history through its events, its ideas, and its people.
Before the Civil Rights Movement culminated in the 1960s, its events unfolded against apathy and racism. At the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery (Boyer, et al. 502). Black codes, however, impeded freedmen's economic and social development. For example, blacks could not employ whites; they had to work under whites (P. McKissack and F. McKissack 27). Sharecropping, too, put blacks (and whites) into a cycle of poverty. Sharecropping was a feudal system in which landlords (whites) granted sharecroppers (blacks) land. The sharecroppers used this land to farm, and the crops paid for their landlords rent. However, the landlords were poor and had to charge exaggerated rents, and the sharecroppers had debts beyond possible recompense. The sharecroppers could not pay the rents, thus the becoming further in debt with landlords, and the landlords lost money, creating the cycle of poverty (29).