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Marxist Interpretation: Civil Rights Movement

  • Date Submitted: 03/26/2010 03:18 PM
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Thinkpiece: Marxist Interpretation                                                    
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was the result of years of racial discrimination and inequality within the United States, most notably the South. During this period, southern Blacks were segregated from white society and seen as the inferior race. As a result of the continued discrimination, African Americans rose up against there white oppressors to fight for a change in society and equal rights. Eventually, the African American population banded together in order to fight the oppression in the South. The events of this movement can be analyzed using the Marxist theory of historical materialism because racial oppression within the South was eventually brought to an end. Marxism proves to be a relevant form of interpretation for the Civil Rights Movement because many of the events during the movement are relevant to Marxist theory.
According to the German philosopher Karl Marx, societies pass through economic and social stages. He believed that the process through which a society shifted from one stage to another, the dialectic, was a difficult and immense process. Indeed, the Civil Rights Movement within the United States was an incredibly strenuous process that took years to accomplish. As Marx had theorized, when the lower class of a society became discontent with their situation, they became aware of certain contradictions within society. In the case of Southern Blacks, these contradictions were apparent from the beginning. Ever since the end of Reconstruction in the South, Blacks were denied certain freedoms and alienated from society. African Americans were segregated on the buses, in restaurants, and in schools. These alternative establishments were often sub-standard and of poor quality. However, Blacks soon realized that they could rebel against the system through peaceful protest. These demonstrations started out small, with bus boycotts and...


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