White racism is essentially responsible

Source A is taken from a video clip about the story of LBJ, showing how the Civil Rights protests were conducted and dealt with by the authorities. In this clip, it says that the Voting Rights Act came “too little, too late” and that black demands had moved on by 1965. The black people wanted far more than what they had been given. It also claims that justice and “war on poverty” had been “too long delayed in America”, that it had been left too long before anything was done about it. This source does imply that white racism was indeed an issue leading to the riots.

Source B shows a picture of black American athletes at the Mexican Olympics in 1968 giving the “Black Power Salute”. This reveals the black peoples defiance. What they wanted was black supremacy. It implies that this is because of white racism.

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Source C is an extract from The Kerner Commission Report, 1968.the Kerner Commission report discusses the part of white racism, segregation and discrimination. This is however a very general statement. It fails to substantiate its findings with hard evidence. Also, it fails to mention other factors like lack of government action. The fact that it is a government report may have something to do with this. The source doesn’t give a full insight into the reasons why the riots occurred. With this lack of evidence I think it is impossible to make a fair judgement on whether or not “white racism” was the only cause for the Civil Rights Riots.

Source D is a statement from Senator Long of Louisiana as quoted in JP Mitchell’s book Race Riots in Black and White”. Senator Long was a southern senator. The south was a very racist place and the state of Louisiana had been a supporter of black slavery. Within this statement, there are several racist/anti-Negro comments made. Negroes are branded as thugs who must be taught to obey laws. This is a good example of the type of white racism that existed in the 1960’s. This racism led to discrimination. Therefore it is implied that white racism played a part.

Source E is another extract from the Kerner Commission Report. This extract shows examples of how Negroes were enraged at their treatment by the Whites. Not all black people suffered economically. The woman interviewed was middle class and ran an art gallery in Los Angeles. Even still, there was still widespread support amongst all blacks for the demands of the Civil Rights protesters.

Source F is an extract from the Dallas Morning News in Texas, August 1965. This extract shows some examples of how Negroes were treated by the Whites. According to this report, Negro mobs were responsible for the riots. This is a bigoted opinion. It could be seen as an example of black people being looked down upon. The fact this paper is a southern paper would have some effect on the reliability of this source, since southerners were traditionally hostile to Black Civil Rights.

Source G is statistical information about the number of Negroes in public schools with whites in eleven southern states 1956-1962. This source is a primary source. It shows lack of black integration in schools. Although the numbers of black students in public schools had risen from 3340 to 6903 by the 1960’s. This was still only 2.6% of the total Negroes in schools with whites in these eleven southern states in 1961. Also because of discrimination in schools, blacks were often left to live in poverty because of poor education, thus another reason for the riots is implied in this source.

Source H is an extract from Harry Mills: “Twentieth Century World History in Focus 1984” This is a secondary source. It says that change was coming far too slowly. It implies that the government lacked initiative and it implies poverty was a resultant cause of the riots when it speaks of “ghetto life”.

Source I is a letter from Birmingham jail from Martin Luther King in 1963. This is first hand insight into the riots. It says that years of oppression led to the riots. It says that there are two groups of blacks, those who are complacent and who can accept segregation and the other group being bitter and full of hatred. This suggests that white racism was responsible for this hatred of whites on the part of blacks, and thus also for the riots.

Source J is an extract from the McCohen Commission, which was set up by the government of California. This is a primary source. It gives no real insight into the background of the riots. By telling us that the target of the black rioters was a white man, it suggests they were angry at their treatment by whites.

It says that not all blacks were involved and that 70% of the rioters were children. This would suggest that not all the rioters had legitimate claims to be there, perhaps there was a “thug” element to it. Eyewitness accounts are needed to give us a full insight into the riots

In conclusion from the sources it would appear that white racism was indeed a cause of Negro ill-feeling, but not necessarily the cause of all the problems. The sources do not give the full picture. They only imply, not prove that white racism is to blame. In order to gain a fuller picture, I would need to consult other sources such as eyewitness reports, Black Civil Rights leaders, rioters themselves, and the white authorities.

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