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«The Unsteady March»

American racial inequality seems to have undergone a series of trials since the 17th century and towards the beginning of the 21st century. Specifically, the African-American example of racial inequities is one of the most cited examples of the trials that the immigrant populations of African origin have undergone in their attempt to occupy similar positions with their white counterparts in the United States. Many people including the United Sates presidents and other senior personnel of African American origin have played a great role in ensuring that the grievances of the black populations in the United States are heard. For example, President Kennedy appointed senior African Americans to executive roles and attorneys to assist in the administration. Following the incidents of the civil war, a series of constitutional changes were done in the United States to recognize the constitutional rights of the blacks and promote their political participation in the country affairs. The promises brought by the constitutional amendments and granting of the racial freedoms after the civil war became a turning point in the eradication of racial freedom in the United States.

According to the book, “The Unsteady March,” the American’s promise to racial equality can be traced to several factors. Firstly, it can be traced to the constitutional changes that took place in the United States. After the Civil war, the government of the United States initiated constitutional reforms, especially in the Southern States, that gave the African American more political rights and their participation in the governance affairs of the country. Also, significant changes were witnessed in socio-economic conditions of the Africans, especially in regard with the segregation of the races in major recreation centers in the United States. The Civil Rights movements that arose in the Southern States fought for the end of the de facto segregation and racial discrimination. The movement fought for the rights of the African Americans to be involved in the democratic processes of the county, which had been stripped since the eras of slavery. In attempts to avoid attributes of a second civil war, the government had to initiate drastic measures to safeguard the rights of the African Americans.

Another factor that led to race equality in the United States is the events of the revolutionary war. According to Klinkner and Smith (1999), African American Soldiers were regarded critical in winning the war. During the war, at least five thousand black soldiers were engaged in the fighting. The service of the black soldiers in the war played a great role in ending the slavery during the late 18th century especially in the northern states. During the Second World War, the African Americans also played an impactful role in the victory of the United States since they were actively involved in the fighting. In addition, the rise in civil societies, religious and human rights group fought for the end of all forms of discrimination that existed in the United States. American religious bodies, especially the Catholics, taught and condemned instances of discrimination that existed in the United States. The religious bodies pressured the government to grant freedom to all immigrant races in the United States by arguing that it was the only way to enhance the unity of the Americans. Civil human rights groups demonstrated in the streets of major cities of the United States to demand for constitutional reforms that pressured the United States government to grant the blacks their constitutional rights. In many instances, many African American representatives were on the forefront in the demonstrations to persuade the government to hear the demands of the black populations.

One important issue that marks the race for the achievement of the American equality and supports the theme of “The Unsteady March” is the black appointments made by President Kennedy to executive positions (Klinkner & Smith, 2002). Kennedy made executive appointments to African Americans in response to civil right activists. He also provided symbolic support for the appointees and the senior attorneys in order to ensure that they were free to perform their roles. However, President Kennedy was reluctant to initiate litigation changes that were necessary in achievement of a long-term stability of racial equality. He was unenthusiastic in displaying leadership that could initiate political, social and electoral reforms and perpetuate African American participation in the country affairs. This became an impediment toward the achievement of racial equality years after his rule. As a result, his administration was criticized for its white supremacy and domination at the expense of the black population.

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The three parts of the American history that “The Unsteady March” addresses are the period before the civil war when the African Americans were subject to untold misery, especially in the southern states. Secondly, the book addresses the period during the civil war and the reconstruction period. The third period addressed is the post-reconstruction era during the events of the revolutionary war and the Second World War. During the period before the civil war, massive enslavement and discrimination of the African Americans occurred, which bred ill feelings among the interracial groups. During the period, extremely oppressive laws against the African Americans existed. As a result, the Africans initiated radical movements, which eventually led to the outbreak of the civil war. The second period addressed by the book is the reconstruction period immediately after the civil war. The reconstruction period, which followed the civil war, was a transition period that was characterized by racial freedom especially, for the African Americans. Despite the improvements in economic status of the African Americans during the reconstruction period, little progress was made in regard to absorption of African Americans in social institutions and white neighborhoods. The third period makes reference to the post-reconstruction era marked by the events of the revolutionary war and the Second World War. During this period, African Americans were actively involved in the affairs of the United States. For example, many African American soldiers were actively involved in the revolutionary wars and were recognized as crucial in the United States victory in the war.

The concept of “structural violence” by Paul Framer can be used to explain the three periods of the United States history in various ways. Structural violence refers to a situation, in which the societal structures disadvantage certain sections of the society. Firstly, the period before the civil war was characterized by structural violence, in which laws discriminated the African Americans. These included the denial of voting rights to the African Americans, especially in the southern states. During the period of the civil war, structural violence can be inferred from the limited constitutional reforms initiated, which did not grant the rights of the African American full mandates as their fellow American Citizens. However, Paul Framer’s explanation of the post reconstruction era has limited knowledge on the aspects of the American history. This period was marked by massive transformations that increased African American participation in the political and economic affairs of the United States.

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The documentary “The Order of Myths” offers a baseline for understanding power and racial discrimination. Using the documentary, the patterns of racial domination identified in “The Unsteady March” are the racial prejudice, political domination and social segregation. Racial prejudice existed in the form of appointments to executive positions of government, in which the whites were offered the first priority (Wittes, 2008). Also, it existed in the form of political domination where the African Americans were never involved in constitutional reforms on affairs that affected them. For example, the constitution forbid participation of the southern African Americans in the democratic processes of the United States. Thirdly, the social segregation that featured in the United States was one of the major sources of violence and human cruelty. The African Americans residing in the Southern States were highly censored to prevent their movement towards the northern states which were exclusively for the whites.

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To conclude, the paper had examined the major contrasts presented by the book “The Unsteady March” in respect to the rise and fall of the American Freedom. In regard with the analysis, the American history can be divided into three sections. These include the period before the civil war, the reconstruction period that followed immediately after the civil war and the post-reconstruction period during the revolutionary war and the Second World War. Each period of history was marked by a series of events that were characterized by human discrimination, cruelty of the whites and struggle for emancipation from slavery. During the first period of the history, there was massive suffering and structural violence among the black population. The period of the civil war and the reconstruction period were marked by little improvements in the African American affairs to avoid instances of the civil war. The latest period, the post-reconstruction period witnessed drastic changes marked by constitutional changes that granted the African Americans more rights. Thus, the book, “The Unsteady March” is a full manifestation of the American history with clear reference to the plight of the African Americans during the period.



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