Keeping the Black Man Down

Black people after slavery who attempted to get work, even in the liberal North, would find discrimination against them at almost every turn. Anyone who stepped beyond the special “boundaries” enforced by whites was subject to lynching, or being hung by the neck until dead. Usually done as a cowardly act by “lynch mobs” out in the boondocks, this has happened to black people as late as 1981, when 18-year-old black college student Michael McDonald was murdered by the KKK in Alabama.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, led by Jewish attorney Morris Dees, brought justice to the McDonald family after several years. Most of the Klan’s assets were awarded to Mrs. McDonald, Michael’s mother, although she died prior to collecting them. However, it bankrupted the Klan, at least for awhile. The southern-based group which helped investigate the Klan is called Klanwatch; it was formed in 1981 specifically to solve this case. The SPLC now offers training to help law enforcement officials and human rights groups to combat racism.

In 1994, they uncovered links between white supremacy organizations and emerging antigovernment “patriot” movements. The SPLC also is monitoring militias and other extremist groups. They keep track of more than 800 “hate groups” across the nation, and put out a quarterly report providing updates to law enforcement agencies, the media and the general public about these groups. The FBI monitors these hate groups’ activities, along with those of the Mafia. Ever since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it has become a role function for the Bureau to monitor hate groups.

Aside from lynchings and whippings, there have been many other murders and punishments for those who dare to believe that interracial people are not “subhuman.” These mainly continued in the South, under the auspices of the Klan and some of the authorities, until the beginnings of the death of segregation in the 1960s. This was due largely to the efforts of black civil rights workers, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although it had been heavily promoted by white southerners, segregation was finally seen as a prolonged evil.

This “experiment” in the stark isolation of peoples inevitably failed, as many Americans would oppose the Klan and white southern racism, and the “Jim Crow” laws of white America, standing against them with their lives. Dr. King once said he asked God to let him live “for a few years” in the latter part of the 1900s, so that he could oppose racism “for at least a little while.” What he helped do was end racial segregation in the Deep South in the 1960s, solving this problem just before his death through assassination on April 4, 1968, almost exactly 100 years after the “death” of American slavery in 1865.

Read the next article in this series, “The America Civil War – Begins in 1861” and the other articles in this long article series about why racism was and is so prevalent in the American South.

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