Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Second American Civil War Part 3

1963 saw the advent of the Freedom Riders, groups riding the Greyhound Buses to towns and cities in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. The skirmishes had been heating up for sometime. The idea of peaceful civil disobedience was gaining currency as public opinion began to shift, very slowly, in favor of those demanding that their civil rights be honored . There were Freedom Marches and there were deaths. In 1962 the attempt to integrate the University of Mississippi resulted in riots and the deaths of two French journalists. Three young men, two white and one black, were murdered by police officers near Meridian Mississippi their killers, though known were never prosecuted. Viola Luizzo was shot and killed while driving a black man to his home. Medgar Evars was shot in his driveway by a sniper, the killer was imprisoned 40 years later. The war had begun to heat up in earnest.

The riots in California that destroyed theWatts district in 1964 spread to Atlanta in 1965 and to Newark NJ in 1967. The country was tearing itself apart over race and over the Vietnam war. It is a tribute to the citizens of the United States that the country was able to stay pretty much intact, though those days are still being felt in the political life of the nation.

The greatest hero of the second American Civil War was of course Martin Luther King,jr. Without him the country would have fallen apart and most likely into two armed camps in a situation not unlike Lebanon. The leadership at the Federal level was pathetic. The so-called boy wonder John F. Kennedy wanted to do as little as politically possible to remedy the situation. The Democrat party was pretty much controlled at that time by the Southern members of congress, as they held the majority of the leadership positions. The FBI was corrupt under the control of J.Edgar Hoover, who considered all activists to be Communist agents. Undoubtedly there were communist sympathisers and in fact many black leaders endorsed Marxism as the way to reorganize the country.

The greatest tragedy still lay ahead, an incident that actually propelled and stopped the civil rights movement simultaneously. Come back tomorrow for that discussion

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