Thursday, December 9, 2010

Civil Rights Across the World

While we usually place the end of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States somewhere in the 1970’s, possibly a little later, it was still going on in other places across the world until the mid-nineties. Many of you are probably familiar with the apartheid system that was in place in South Africa until 1994, much later than the downfall of segregation in the United States. There are many similarities in the systems of apartheid and the segregation in place in the United States. Although in South Africa the conditions were much more extreme. There are many cases in South Africa of mass amounts of blacks being forced from their homes and place into “race zones”. Another thing that is interesting about the system in place in South Africa is that the extreme minority oppressed the overwhelming majority of people. South Africa is about 80% black, 10% white, and the other ten percent is a racial group known as the “coloreds” who are people who are half white and half black. Naturally with the ratio so much in favor of the oppressed, there was a great deal of resistance from within. There are many reports of outbreaks across South Africa against apartheid, especially during the late 1980’s. In the United States, the outbreak of violence was not as present as it was in South Africa. Also in the United States the African Americans who were being oppressed were not in the majority as they were in South Africa. However in some rural areas of the American South, it is likely that a similar situation existed in many largely African American towns. It is a horrible thing that such a small minority of people was able to control, torment, and oppress such a large majority of people such as what happened in South Africa. It wasn’t until the international community got involved, along with the internal protests in South Africa, helped to bring an end to the apartheid system. Many companies across the United States and Europe took away their investments from South Africa, causing them a great deal of economic distress. Also the governments of the United States and many European nations placed embargos on goods from South Africa, and individual citizens across the world organized boycotts designed to sway South Africa to end their horrible system of apartheid. Only about twenty years after the United States ended its own struggle with civil rights issues it was already going out and trying to spread what they had done across the world, perhaps in an attempt to show how far from the institution of segregation they had come. Finally in 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison and once again became very active in the anti-apartheid movement and was elected, in South Africa’s first free election, to the office of President, apartheid had officially come to an end. It is interesting how we usually think of Civil Rights issues being over with for the most part before our life time, but in reality segregation still reared its ugly head well into our own lifetimes.


1 comment:

  1. That's an interesting post and I didn't know systems of legal segregation still existed in the 90's. Although, most people would say the civil rights movement ended during the 70's, I would contend that it is a timeless battle. Our society has made great strides in race relations, but there is still much discrimination towards homosexuals. There have always been groups that have face persecution, and it is likely that there will be in the future.