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Culture and Movements

In: Historical Events

Submitted By Spooks
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Culture is everywhere and people can find pieces of culture anywhere they look! People learn their culture by being taught it from older generations. Culture is expressed in many different ways; from the clothing people wear, the food people eat, the music people listen to, peoples’ actions, and peoples’ beliefs. In other words, culture is who people are. People live their lives the way they do because of their culture. Culture is part of their identity, it makes them, them. Culture is more than identity and it has the ability to be very powerful, so powerful it can influence and actually start a movement. Culture is important for the development of movements. “Culture implies our striving – it is our striving.” (Keita, 12) Not only does culture thrive for striving, but it helps fight for freedom. “By culture, we understand all… behaviors and attitudes accumulated by the People both through and by virtue of its struggle for freedom from the hold and domain of Nature, and also through and by virtue of its effort to destroy deviationist politics – social systems of domination and exploitation… process of its life.” (Keita, 12) For short, culture can bring people together to fight for freedom and for other reasons.
Some ethnicities’ culture is stronger than others. African-Americans are a prime example of an ethnicity whose culture is extremely strong. They hold their culture close to their hearts and they express their culture vibrantly. They stand tall behind their culture and speak proudly of it. African-Americans used their culture to make a change; their culture brought them together to fight together. Their culture is what made them so strong and powerful.
There are two important movements the African-Americans were involved in: The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement. Through these movements, the African-Americans were able to accomplish important goals they were fighting for. The culture of the African-Americans can be easily seen through the upbringing of the movement, through their actions throughout the movement and the movements themselves. If the African-Americans didn’t stand so strong to their culture, they would’ve never pushed themselves through the circumstances they did, but they knew that they deserved better. They knew that if they wanted change, they had to become that change. That is exactly what they did. Their need and want for change was the foundation to The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement.
The Civil Rights Movement is a famous social movement. It is, without a doubt, an important part in history today. The Civil Rights Movement dates back to 1954. It ended in 1968. The initial start of this movement was the reaction of others due to one woman’s action. That one woman was Rosa Parks. Parks was an African-American woman riding a public bus. On December 1, 1955 Parks refused to give up her seat to another bus rider who was white. This was in Montgomery, Alabama, which meant by her doing that, she was defying a practice that demanded African-Americans to sit in the back of the bus and if the white section of the bus got full, they needed to give their seats to the whites. This act got Parks arrested. Now, Parks was a well-known worker in her community so when the word about her getting arrested spread, it only started controversy. This was the last straw the African-Americans had with racially discriminatory laws. The African-Americans in the community began to boycott the buses in that city. This particular boycott lasted longer than a year. That boycott alone shows how dedicated and how strong the African-Americans stand behind their actions. Their actions spoke louder than words.
Long before this event occurred, African-Americans were not being treated equally. Through the hard times, they stood strong to what they knew: their culture. They would sing songs to calm them and to remind them where they came from. Singing songs were especially popular with enslaved African-Americans. While they worked in the field, or wherever they were told to work, they would sing songs. Songs were their getaway from reality. They kept their loved ones close to them, they would pray and they held themselves together. They didn’t want to be seen as weak even though people thought they were. Wherever they went, they never lost their culture.
Over time they began to get fed up with being treated unfairly, so instead of creating violent chaos, they went about making change in a nonviolent way. This was surprising considering that people were used to violence when something wasn’t right. The African-Americans were looked at as weaklings that couldn’t (physically) fight for what they wanted, but they were perfectly capable of handling guns and breaking out in violence if they had wished to do so, but that is not their nature. “For years it had been though that black people would not literally fight for their lives.” (Hamilton and Ture, 52) They knew violence wasn’t the answer. If they wanted people to listen to what they wanted to say, they had to do it in a new way – a better way! “Humanity is waiting for something other than blind imitation of the past. If we want truly to advance a step further, if we want to turn over a new leaf and really set a new man afoot, we must begin to turn mankind away from the long and desolate night of violence.” (“Black Power,” 332) Throughout this movement, the whites reacted in different ways.
African-Americans were physically and verbally attacked by whites. Throughout all the hard lash the African-Americans received from the whites, they kept their cool. Of course they fought back if they got attacked, but they never began the fighting. They put on a strong shield to block out what the whites were yelling at them. Other ways their culture could be seen throughout the Civil Rights Movement is by them sticking together. Their culture unified them as one strong group. Another movement where they unified together was for the Black Power Movement.
The Black Power Movement was created trailing after the Civil Rights Movement. Both movements were created for the same goal – improving the lives of African-Americans. The Black Power Movement began in the 1960s. Many African-Americans, especially the younger ones, refused to follow the nonviolent actions shown by leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. An influential leader during the Black Power Movement was Stokely Carmichael. He was for and promoted armed self defense. This was liked by the younger African-Americans because it broke away from what was advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders during the Civil Rights Movement.
Black Power was a big aspect of this particular movement. Black Power was not fighting for oppression over whites, but for strength for a better lifestyle. “Black Power therefore calls for black people to consolidate behind their own, so that they can bargain from a position of strength. But while we… this does not mean that black people should strive for the same kind of rewards (i.e., end results) obtained by the white society. The ultimate values and goals are not domination or exploitation of other groups, but rather an effective share in total power of the society.” (Hamilton and Ture, 47) The strength they were fighting for during this movement was not to dominate the whites; the African-Americans just wanted to be able to live the life they wanted. They knew that what was being done to them wasn’t fair and that’s why they continued to fight for a better life. Their goal was not to oppress the whites; all they wanted was their freedom and to use the rights they were supposed to have. Some violence was used to gain power by the African-Americans through this movement.
During the Black Power Movement, a group named the Black Panther Party arose. The Black Panther Party wanted to achieve socialism and they used violence to help them gain it. Overtime this movement grew more and more violent. The reason for this was because the African-Americans knew that they had to try something else from what they used in the Civil Rights Movement if they wanted to see change. They also knew that people of the law would not protect them. “Here is a group which realized that the ‘law’ and law enforcement agencies would not protect people, so they had to do it themselves. If a nation fails to protect its citizens, then that nation cannot condemn those who take up the task themselves.” (Hamilton and Ture, 52-53) They went from a nonviolent movement to a very violent movement. Black Power eventually led to the creation, or idea, of Black Supremacy. Black Supremacy was only created to overturn the white supremacy the African-Americans faced for so many years. The Black Power Movement became a noticeable group who only continued to grow and grow.
Throughout the Black Power Movement, there were similar names that grew famous: Black Power, Black Panther Party and Black Supremacy. Within all those names, there’s the word “black.” The African-Americans wanted their people to take pride in their heritage. Culture reflects heritage. Culture is developed through one’s heritage, therefore there is a strong connection between the two. Having pride in one’s heritage is important to their culture. They didn’t want their people to feel ashamed of what they were or where they came from. They knew that just because their skin color was different, it didn’t make them any less of a person. They wanted to emphasize their differences and make a change by doing so.
Culture is the backbone to any movement. People unify to achieve something that is believed by their culture. By movements being able to continually grow, it shows how one’s culture can unify many as one to fight, or strive, for their wants. People express their culture in various ways throughout their movements: by slogans, what they are fighting for (their beliefs) or even the name of the movement. Culture and movements go hand-in-hand with each other and its easy to see that from the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement.
Works Cited
"Black Power." The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (n.d.): 332. Print.
Keita, Mamadi. "Culture, History and Ideology." (n.d.): 12. Print.
Ture, Kwame, and Charles Hamilton. "Black Power: Its Need and Substance." (n.d.): 47. Print.…...

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