The November election in particular highlighted the political power of black voters, who saw the ballot box as a means to protest Trump and the racial hostility he and his cronies represent.
The rejection of racial equality by whites, even by powerful black electorates, is not uncommon. In fact, what makes this dynamic troubling is its pervasiveness throughout the history of the United States. And it’s not just the ditch itself that’s the problem. It is also the fear of setbacks (real or perceived) – a fear that can impede progress.
And if the attack on the Capitol was terrifying, it was not the first manifestation of the white reaction. At one important point, the past resonates in this episode.
In the years immediately following the end of the Civil War in 1865, three amendments to Reconstruction were ratified. The Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment allowed everyone to be a U.S. citizen, regardless of race; and the Fifteenth Amendment prohibited racial discrimination in elections.
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By the mid-1970s, however, the country had essentially abandoned its efforts to achieve equality, as Supreme Court rulings and Jim Crow laws and revanchist campaigns in the South undermined the civil, economic, and political progress of black Americans.
Negative reactions from whites also occurred during the struggle for black freedom in the mid-twentieth century. For centuries.
At a time when black Americans were fighting to dismantle their country’s entrenched caste system – a fight that resulted in, among other things, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – many of their white counterparts thought these actions were excessive.
For many white neighborhoods in the 1960s, at a time when historian C. Vann Woodward called the second reconstruction, the first reconstruction remained a negative model, Cornell University professor Lawrence Glickman wrote for The Atlantic last year. They felt that reform was moving too fast and that black civil rights were being prioritized at the expense of white peace of mind.
The rioters who violently seized control of Capitol Hill last week had much in common with their predecessors, particularly in their expression of discontent and white rights, and their belief that sharing rights and resources is not a win-win situation, but a loss that white Americans should not tolerate.
It’s no coincidence that stopping stealing was one of the cries of the crowd. It was in cities with large black populations that Biden ripped apart and nominated in support of Trump, who journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates called the country’s first white president in 2017.
It is important to note that while Trump’s loss in November – or more specifically the outgoing president’s false claims that a free and fair election was rigged – was the most immediate catalyst for last week’s iteration of white supremacy, Trump did not create a latent racial resentment.
There was a backlash, but the seeds were already there, according to Seyward Darby, editor of Atavist magazine and author of 2020 Sisters in Hate : American women on the front lines of white nationalism, CNN reported.
Last July, Darby warned of a possible backlash against the new Black Lives Matter protests.
If Mr. Trump is no longer president, I’m afraid people will try to get through it faster than they should, what will they say: Now back to some semblance of normality. But the unrest was already escalating for Trump, she added in a recent interview.
The murderous attack on Capitol Hill was also written into the history of the White Backlash in another way: in the way it influenced – or even outlined – conversations about what an acceptable way forward might look like.
Keep in mind that while some Republican lawmakers have asked Trump to resign for inciting the mob, others have asked Democrats not to pursue the charge, fearing it would lead to division and chaos.
This is the kind of thinking that puts reconciliation before justice.
For some in power, the reason for not pressing charges is not a political or fairness argument, but the idea that if you want to stay out of trouble, you shouldn’t press charges. These sentiments are widespread, Glickman told CNN. In other words: White backlash can impede progress, but it is not always the backlash itself, but the threat of backlash that impedes progress in American history.
Still, Glickman found a positive in the events of last week.
While the capture of Capitol Hill demonstrated once again that white repercussions can lead to a violent end, the second round of elections in Georgia at 5 showed that white voters are not the only ones with the right to vote. January that armed racial resentment can be avoided.
In these races, voters elected the Reverend Raphael Warnock, Democrat, and John Ossoff, Black and Jewish, to the U.S. Senate. Their victories, fueled by the efforts of black organizers, were a reminder of the turbulent history of the civil rights movement.
(Republican opponents) Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue tried to put traditional counterarguments at the center of their campaigns, but it didn’t work, said Glickman, who called Republican attacks on Warnock particularly dangerous and radical.
In this broader context, the Democrats’ recent political triumphs seem all the more significant.
I think it’s important not to predict that we are destined to be under white control, Glickman said. Because it doesn’t give Americans enough credit for their own actions in determining our future.
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