Civil Rights Movements

Civil Rights Movements


Governments serve as the structural framework for
the functioning of most societies and have a wide range of responsibilities.
While there are many types of governments, they are concerned about similar
national issues from the economy to education to defense to health. Outside
of the government itself, so many other groups influence society. This includes
corporations, the media, nonprofits, clinics, lobbying groups, and the people
themselves. These groups have a lot of influence, but instead of representing a
particular country or state or physical area, they often go beyond borders and
represent a set of values or an ideology. As a result, these groups are called
non-state actors because they are separate from governments or states. Even though these non-state actors aren’t affiliated with, directed by, or funded
through the government, they have a lot of power to facilitate change. Keep in
mind that a non-state actor in one country may actually be controlled by
the government in a different country However, while non-state actors can be
influenced by the government, they still have their own agendas. This can be
clearly illustrated through the role played by non-state actors and various
social movements. A social movement is when a group of people and/or
organizations work towards a common goal. These goals are oriented around social change over a long period of time. Often, the social movement doesn’t come from within the government but rather from outside of the government and this is where the non-state actors come in. Unfortunately, things aren’t always straight forward. Sometimes, the non-state actor involved is working with the social movement to promote
change. Other times, the non-state actor is what
the people of a particular social movement are demanding action against. We will look at various examples around the world of both of these cases. We’ll start off studying civil rights
movements by examining the history, evolution, and consequences of apartheid
in South Africa. Although South Africa technically earned its independence in
1934, not everyone had a voice. Only the white minority could vote. They controlled most of the land, wealth, and power despite only composing about 10 to 20 percent of the population To maintain power, the white population passed many
laws prohibiting non-whites from owning valuable land, working desirable jobs and
living where they wanted to. The ruling class kept different non-white
populations separate and intentionally sowed discourse between non-white groups to keep them divided. In 1948 amid economic struggles, the Afrikaner National Party
came to power and instituted a new program called apartheid, meaning
separateness. The first steps of this new program were to classify every male by
race They could be labeled as black, mixed, white or asian. Interracial
marriages were outlawed and land reform acts were passed that gave whites
control of over 80 percent of the land in the country. Over 3.5 million rural non-whites were evicted from their land during apartheid. They also designated separate bathrooms, water fountains, and other entities. Non-whites were denied
the ability to participate in politics, unions and many had to carry racial
identification papers and they could be arrested for leaving the house without
them. The non-whites of South Africa fought back through first nonviolent
political and then violent channels. The African National Congress (the ANC) was formed and put persistent political pressure on the white led apartheid
government. Many members of the ANC were arrested in a 1955 meeting where they
declared that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it black or white.” In 1960, white police officers shot into a protesting crowd of black
students in Sharpeville killing over 65 people. This became known as the
Sharpeville massacre. Many saw this as a sign that peaceful means would not work
and violence was the only way to achieve true freedom, in contrast to the peaceful
civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States at
the time. The ANC formed a militant wing to put more pressure on the South African government. The leaders of the militant groups, most
notably Nelson Mandela, were arrested quickly and sent to prison. After another massacre in Soweto in 1976, the pressure and apartheid both
domestically and internationally was felt. Countries began to impose sanctions
on South Africa for their harsh laws which led to economic recession. South
Africa was also expelled from the United Nations and banned from the Olympics. Eventually, enough pressure was put on the government in South Africa that laws
slowly start getting repealed in 1989 and apartheid was finally abolished in 1994. A new constitution was written and Nelson Mandela became the first African leader
in South Africa’s history. Through a combination of both violent and nonviolent protests, international condemnation, and internal political
pressure, South Africans were finally able to achieve freedom for all their
citizens. In South Africa laws meant to restrict the civil rights of certain
groups of people began emerging in 1948. Collectively, these laws enforced
apartheid in the country. The main non-state actors were the South African citizens
who led protests to put political pressure on the state to remove these
unjust laws. This social movement within South Africa was supported
internationally. Forty six years later after the start of apartheid in 1994, the people finally won and were able to participate in the first South African
election open to everybody.

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