This reading is the first commentary report of Baynard Ruskin, who was a close associate of Martin Luther King and a leading tactician within the civil rights movement in the United States. The reading was published in 1964 after the landslide victory of President Johnson that was largely offset by African American votes. The commentary also came at the wake of the shift of focus by the civil rights movement from protests, boycotts and sit-ins to political action, lobbying for civil rights, employment, equal opportunity, an end to de facto segregation and eradication of poverty to improve the condition of African America lives.
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A Discussion of From Protest To Politics. The Future Of The Civil Rights Movement By Baynard Ruskin
Ruskin begins by acknowledging the crumbling of the legal foundations of segregation through the civil rights act of 1964. The crumbling of these foundations had brought an end to Jim Crow but had paved way for another set of issues that continued to ensure that the African Americans continued to remain segregated even in the absence of Jim Crow. Whites were unable to understand how the removal of these legal foundations of racism had not resulted in the automatic integration of the African Americans in to the American life. However, Ruskin explains that the African American still remained uneducated and with the increase in technological advancement and the change infrastructure of the labour market, his jobs were either being taken over by machines or required him to have a better educational background than being a high school dropout which is what many African American were. The unavailability of jobs resulted in housing and economic segregation of the African America. This was evidenced by the urban decay in the form of slums that constituted the major dwelling place of many African Americans. Ruskin emphasized that there was a need to for the African American to be given the opportunity to attain a broad educational background that would enable him to adapt to the changing requirements of the job market and that this education directly translate of equal employment opportunity for African Americans, fair wages and access to conventional means of attaining the American dream.
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Ruskin points out there was a need for the civil rights movement to abandon the tactics it employed while fighting Jim Crow and adopt strategies that would enable to attainment of the change that it craved. One such strategy was the formation of alliances with other organizations and individuals with common political objectives. The movement could not afford to stand in isolation or rely solely on the support of African Americans. Social, economic and political issues were too complex to be solved by the efforts of one individual or by sit-in as was done for Jim Crow. He emphasizes that despite the main objective of the movement being to enhance black suffrage, it had also brought benefits to every Americans by being responsible abolishment of McCarthyism that restored political debate to America campuses and the initiation on the war on poverty as well as advancing agendas of quality education for all children.
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This reading provides insight in to the human condition of African Americans after the enactment of the civil rights act and the reasons why the activities of the movement did not wane after this significant victory. It provides an inside look at the moment in time when the African American and America in general discovered the incredible political power possessed by the black voter and the power he possesses to turn his future around were he to develop tactics that enabled him to employ this political power.
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