How have African- Americans worked to further the cause of Civil Rights into today?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the key element in the question is "worked."  Civil Rights has been one of intense work, where there has not been a type of "finish line" as much as one in which  barriers are seen and overcome only to be supplanted with new hurdles.  I would say that one particular manner in which African- Americans have worked to further the cause of Civil Rights is by injecting into the social and political discourses of American thought the idea of equity and what it means to be fair to all citizens.  One of the lasting legacies of the Civil Rights Movement was the inclusion of voice.  It is an element that is present in all that we do and how we progress.  Regardless of the consequence, the Civil Rights Movement made the demanding of voice something powerful, something that had to be fully understood and accepted in the nature of American consciousness.  Leaders like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Stokely Carmichael demanded that American social and political institutions validate and acknowledge voice.  In authenticating one's experience, this became imprinted on our being as children of the Civil Rights Movement.  We now find ourselves asking public questions of fairness and equality in realms where this was not as evident before.  In doing this, African- Americans made sure that the cause of Civil Rights is a lasting one, enduring time.  This helps to further the cause because it shows that the cause, itself, is not an ending one.  Dr. King and others made sure that the passage of the Civil Rights Act was not "the end of the cause."  They pledged their support and their lives to ensuring that the discussion of the cause found itself in many realms and in different contexts.  It is for this reason, the discussion of freedom, fairness, and social justice, that the cause has been furthered.  We still see this today in that outrage over perceived injustice requires being spoken out in force and not remaining in silence.  When Math teachers in a Georgia school district assignment word problems that includes contexts of slavery, it was a reminder of how the cause is not entirely absent.  The response of parents demanding that the school district understand their own position on the issue is an example of how the cause is still fought on today and reflective of how African- Americans of the Civil Rights Era made sure that the language of the cause would be applicable long after the 1950s and 1960s, something still seen today.  This work is what makes the cause so important then and now.

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