What connection did the American civil rights movement have to the struggles for human rights in other areas of the world?
* what influence human rights activist such as Mohandas K. Gandhi had in the United States and abroad
*how African independence influenced African American civil rights activist
*how the American civil rights movement influenced African civil rights efforts
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One of the most underrated aspects of the Civil Rights Movement was its presentation of a paradigm in a globalized manner. Many of the activists who fought for rights at home were not afraid to bring the issue into a worldwide frame of reference. When Malcolm X goes to Mecca and comes back as El Hajj Malik el Shabazz, he is quite vocal in attempting to bring the issue of rights for all people of color as a worldwide struggle. Moments like these helped to feed the drive for independence in a post- Colonial world that was present at the time. The Vietnam War was cast as a conflict between the ruling race over other people of color. Part of this was present in the roots of the Civil Rights Movement, when Dr. King appropriated the Gandhian tactics of civil disobedience in trying to reach out to appeal to a moral sense of indignation at discrimination and the practices of racism.
Of course, Mahatma Gandhi had a great deal of influence, especially on Martin Luther King, Jr. King's philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience was derived largely from that of Gandhi (and Thoreau who influenced both of them).
African independence had an impact on the Civil Rights Movement in the US. By 1960 many black African countries had become independent. This influenced black Americans in that it helped make them feel greater pride in their origin. Before independence, having African ancestry meant being tied to a continent that was colonized. Independence gave blacks more of a reason to feel proud, rather than embarrassed about their African origins.
In 1961, as civil rights was gaining steam in the United States as a movement and had been recognized and endorsed by the US legal system and President Kennedy, the year of African independence also took place. 17 separate African nations threw off their colonial masters in a single year. This contributed to African-Americans sense of identity and equality - the idea that their continent of origin was not merely belonging to some other country as a subservient colony, but that Africa itself was independent, with a culture and then a nationhood that had acquired the right to stand equally with the other nations on Earth.
The gains made by civil rights activists in the United States started us down the path towards other equalities, not the least of which was the election of an African-American President. Without the civil rights movement being successful in the United States, it is highly unlikely that either our population or our government would have been so active in pressuring South Africa to end Apartheid in the 1980s and early 90s. It was the generation in America after civil rights, both black and white, that was part of the anti-apartheid cause in the US at that point.
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