Sample Research Paper


please see the uploaded file. The name of our book is The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans (2nd edition). Our instructor uses a safe assignment to indicate plagiarism, therefore please make sure you cite everything. Finally, Include the Minute paper at the end of your word document.

AFA 202 The African American Experience



Answer the following questions and include at the end of your document:

  1. I am most satisfied with? I am least satisfied with? I am having problems with?
  1. In writing this paper what did you learn that surprised you? In editing your paper, what were you unsure about?
  1. What changes would you make to this assignment?

4.  This lesson is important to my role as a social worker or _________________ major because…


Racism in America: The Civil Rights and Black Power Era (1941-1970)

Name of Student:

Institutional Affiliation:


Introduction. 2

Categories of Racial Oppression Blacks Faced During the Civil Rights and Black Power Era (1941-1970). 3

African Americans’ Demonstration of Resiliency and Resistance to Racist Segregation. 5

Conclusion. 7

The Minute Paper. 8

Question 1. 8

Question 2. 8

Question 3. 8

Question 4. 8

References. 9


            Margaret Walker, an African American writer, once wrote that although African Americans have been handicapped by a racist system that has continued to dehumanize them through slavery and segregation, their history in American reveals their spiritual and cultural gifts that have remained intact throughout the struggle spanning nearly 500 years (Walker, 1997). In this statement, Walker means to say that although African Americans have suffered a lot, they have demonstrated their unique qualities embedded in the spirit and culture of resiliency. This statement confirms the history of African Americans has been that of anti-black oppression and black resistance.


The aim of this paper is to explore the ways in which racism affected African American lives as well as the strategies African Americans have devised to make life more livable in the face of racist injustice. This history of racist oppression and resistance may be divided into different eras. The first one is the pre-1793 era, which was characterized by early American slavery; the second era is between 1793 and 1865, during which the American Civil War was fought; the third era is the age of Jim Crow and Reconstruction, lasting between 1865 and 1941; the fourth and fifth eras are the Civil Rights era (1941-1970) and the Post-Civil Rights Era (1970-Present) respectively (Lawson, 2011). This paper focuses exclusively on the era of the Civil Rights and Black Power (1941-1970). The choice of this era is ideal because it is during this time that African Americans made the most far-reaching achievements in their struggle for racial equality.

Categories of Racial Oppression Blacks Faced During the Civil Rights and Black Power Era (1941-1970)

The Civil Rights and Black Power Era was a period in American history when African Americans struggled to end racial oppression and discrimination through the Civil Rights Movement. During the early 1940s, African Americans were subjected to numerous acts of segregation on the basis of their color (Carson, Lapsansky-Werner & Nash, 2010). This practice of segregation was made possible by the fact that racial discrimination had been institutionalized through laws that favored whites over blacks for centuries. This led to a situation where whites lived in posh houses with water and electricity while blacks lived in shanties in secluded neighborhoods. The culture of sharecropping had pushed African Americans to the periphery of the economy, thereby condemning them illiteracy, poverty, and disenfranchisement.

            During the 1940s, African Americans lagged behind in terms of economic development, meaning that their contribution to poll tax was minimal(Lawson, 2011). Their white oppressors often cited this situation as a justification for treating black people as second-class citizens. The practice of segregating blacks in public utilities, schools, parks, restaurants, and other social amenities was founded on the dominant whites’ view of African Americans as an inferior race (Lawson, 2011).

            As whites continued the oppressive policies, blacks struggled to look for educational opportunities. Those blacks who were fortunate enough to acquire an education used their position of enlightenment to raise awareness among the rest of the black folk on the need to resist segregation and demand civil rights. Consequently, a new, energetic brand of visionary Black Power and Civil Rights Movement leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X was born.

White supremacist repression took many forms between the 1940s and 1960s. Black self-assertion by civil rights leaders was met with acts of terror, destruction of property, and even assassinations by whites (Carson, Lapsansky-Werner & Nash, 2010). These acts were aimed at instilling fear in African Americans, thereby discouraging them from moving on with their campaign against segregation. However, this reign of terror inspired many brave blacks, who not only acted in defiance of the oppressive system but also inspired landmark reforms that emboldened millions of blacks across America to join the Civil Rights Movement. For example, in 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman from Montgomery, refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, leading to her arrest. Her arrest triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The compelling message that blacks sent to the dominant white race in American were that they were tired of being treated like second-class citizens.

            Segregation was attributed mainly to Jim Crow laws. One landmark court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, the phrase “separate but equal” was coined. In this phrase, the court ruled that it was legal for separate amenities to be created for whites and blacks as long as the principle of equality was upheld. Through this ruling, the dominant white section of the American society had just succeeded in sanctioning the establishment of segregated institutions. Of course, it was going to be impossible for equality to be promoted because those who were in control of the political system were fiercely opposed to it.

Consequently, an overwhelming majority of blacks lived through the 1940s in conditions of extreme racial oppression. They were prohibited from marrying whites. In most white-dominated neighborhoods, white landlords often refused to allow blacks to rent residential and business spaces. It was also common for African Americans to be denied the right to vote. Almost a century after the Emancipation Proclamation that led to the freeing of slaves, African Americans still lived in a state of virtual enslavement. A century later, supremacist ideologies had simply refused to die.


Life was rough and brutal for African Americans. A century after the Emancipation Proclamation the descendants of the freed slaves knew that the fate of future generations lays in their hands. They realized that it was entirely upon them to seek out opportunities to enhance their position in American society for their own sake and that of future generations. Yet the oppressive system of their era did not offer them any prospects for such a future. In other words, they realized that their struggle had hit a dead end. It was a do-or-die situation where they had to fight in order to redeem themselves from certain misery in the future. The average black American was in a rush to escape racial oppression by migrating to large cities such as New York and Chicago. Despite the promise of redemption, an overwhelming majority of blacks were wary of the daily struggles in an oppressive system.

African Americans’ Demonstration of Resiliency and Resistance to Racist Segregation

            African Americans demonstrated their resiliency and resistance to segregationist obstacles in numerous ways. For example, when Rosa Parks refused to give up his bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery on December 1, 1955, she was well aware of the danger to which she was exposing herself (Collier-Thomas & Franklin, 2001). She could easily have been beaten up by police officers, lost her job, or gotten her home burnt down. In another example, Amzie Moore, a former military officer, refused to put a “Colored Only” sign on the door of his gas station in Cleveland, Mississippi in September 1953 (Driskell, 2006). By putting this sign, Moore was being asked to embrace a policy of segregation in his business. If he had accepted to segregate his business, black patrons would be required to serve his black customers through the side window or black door. His refusal to operate a Jim Crow business triggered a campaign by city authorities to mobilize white patrons to boycott Amzie Moore’s gas station.

            The aspects of resiliency and resistance among blacks were also evident in their quest for voting rights, the pursuit of political office, and the establishment of anti-racist social movements. Some of the movements that were active during the era of black power and civil rights movement included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Women’s Political Council (WPC), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). All these organizations participated in one way or the other in the struggle to emancipate African Americans from the yoke of segregation. For instance, members of the WPC were vocal in opposing white supremacy in political issues. They organized meetings aimed at encouraging more blacks to run for political office while at the same time promoting the voting rights of African Americans in Alabama.

            Perhaps the strongest evidence of resiliency and resistance to white supremacy is to be found in African American culture. By looking at aspects of family life, community practices, religious observances, as well as art and literature, one can see how members of the black race struggled against all odds to resist and overcome segregation, discrimination and oppression in the hands of white Americans. For example, a century after emancipation from slavery, millions of African Americans continued to emigrate from Southern states in the search for jobs in the Northern states. To demonstrate this, it is worthwhile to note that the two states with the highest populations of African Americans, California and New York, are away from the Deep South.

            Family and marriage arrangements among blacks also demonstrate their efforts to cope with the adversity they have encountered through forced slavery, racial discrimination, and segregation over the years (Barbarin, in press). For example, extended family structures provide a platform on which many African Americans assert their racial identity. Families also rely on spirituality, mutual support, and religion as sources of instrumental and ideological support. For example, during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, it was the norm for grandparents to take care of their grandchildren whenever their parents were unable to do so because of various factors such as death, imprisonment, or poverty (Staples, 1997).


            This research paper has explored the dual role of racism and resiliency in the struggle by African Americans to promote the ideals of Black Power and Civil Rights between 1941 and 1970. It is evident that racism had a negative impact on African Americans’ lives during this era. The paper has also demonstrated that Margaret Walker was right in her assertion that the spiritual and cultural gifts attributable to blacks’ African past have remained intact despite their exposure to centuries of segregation, slavery, and dehumanization within a racist system.


Between 1941 and 1970, African Americans faced segregation in schools, parks, housing, restaurants, and other social amenities. They were poor and weary because of systematic, institutionalized marginalization perpetuated under the ideology of “separate but unequal”. In the face of this oppression, blacks demonstrated their spirit of resiliency and resistance by launching protests and associations that culminated in the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement. The objectives that African Americans achieved through this Movement continues to influence race relations in the present-day United States.

The Minute Paper

Question 1.

I am most satisfied with the analysis of how African Americans demonstrated resiliency and resistance in the face of oppression. I am least satisfied with the way I explored the family and community life of African Americans.

Question 2.

I surprised by the way in which White Americans denied African Americans fundamental human rights such as voting rights and the right to decent housing. In editing the paper, I was unsure about whether blacks were denied voting rights in all states during the 1940s.

Question 3.

The changes I would make to this paper would involve providing a more detailed description of how African Americans were discriminated against and how this is reflected in the way they led their lives in family and community contexts.

Question 4.

This lesson is important to my role as a social worker or history major because it will enable me to understand the challenges of race relations in America today and how to address them.


Barbarin, O. (In press). Characteristics of African American families. London: Heinemann.

Carson, C., Lapsansky-Werner, E. &Nash, G. (2010). The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans (2nd Edition). New York, NY: Pearson.

Collier-Thomas, B. & Franklin, V. (eds.) (2001). Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Driskell, J. (2006). Amzie Moore: The biographical roots of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. In Susan Glisson. The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield Publishers.

Lawson, S. (2011). Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America since 1941.Chicago, IL: Prentice-Hall.

Staples (1997). An overview of race and marital status. In H.P. McAdoo. (Ed.) Black families(3rd Ed.). 269-273. Boston, MA: Sage.

Walker, M. (1997). On being female, black, and Free: Essays by Margaret Walker, 1932-1992. Nashville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.

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