Beth Fine

Educational Fiction Author – Serious Thinker – Child at Heart

Civil Rights Notes from IMASODE VI

Excerpted from supplementary information in the Appendices / Lookup Suggestions of IMASODE VI: Danger Starts in Detroit.

Righteous Reasons for the Civil Rights Movement:
In the 1960s some unknown champions heralded the most important and positive change of the times: the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, this critical social phenomenon occurred almost concurrently to the hippie/peace movement which muddied the waters. One appeared as a group of spoilers; and the other, as people with legitimate issues and righteous complaints.

Reasonable people, with true eyes on their society, wanted to participate effectively in the freedom battle. But, since many hippies blended into, even usurped, the fight for civil rights, those flawed messengers polluted the atmosphere and almost single-handed stopped the conversation between interested parties. The middle class  whites saw the need and justice of promoting freedom for Blacks and even admired Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach.

However, they felt unprepared, even repulsed by the quick acceptance of other, almost instant, radical changes of the times. Sexual promiscuity and the drug culture had attached like “tares among the wheat” (Matt 13:25) to the more righteous movement of civil rights. Propaganda machines on both sides multiplied false ideas, blurring and even canceling the chance for a positive outcome.

Twisted Understanding of the Civil Rights Movement:
Admittedly, some blue-collar workers feared losing their jobs. A strong example of that was when radical agitators urged Black autoworkers to form their own union. Promoters implied that the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) and League of Revolutionary Black Workers(LRBW) could make better deals with car manufacturers than the United Auto Workers (UAW), the traditional union could. IMASODE VI explores this idea and mixes in gangster strong-arming to demonstrate how corruption might have played a part on both sides of this project.

With their homes being a major investment, many whites resisted their neighborhoods becoming racially mixed. Integration of schools moved along a bumpy but determined road; and through the busing of children to formally restricted neighborhoods brought about a co-mingling of races, hitherto not experienced. These children led the way in accepting each other once they became schoolmates in class and competitors in sports. Black teachers filled out school faculties and earned the respect of their white counterparts. Parents began to have black work cohorts in the office. Although the process was imperfect and sometimes forced, a lot of anger had to dissipate so that jobs got done properly.

Except for reactionary, hate groups, average people  usually more moderate in their views, saw such changes as progress but still wanted a cooling off period, a time to marinate reality in the new laws. They still wrestled with Dr. King’s warning against gradualism, a policy he knew would cause a loss of momentum in the Civil Rights Movement.

However, the collective guilt given to those wanting a slower transition was not properly assigned to southern Democrat politicians who more feared the next election than finally facing this dilemma. Instead, it was laid on the workaday population. Blaming middle class people only immobilized them and shunted off any honest contribution they could have made to the cause.

Yes, history had announced the time for average men to take a backseat. Yes, they would be kept in the dark, reminded that they supposedly had been responsible for keeping Blacks in the dark. Though neither landowners nor slaveholders in the 1800s, they had somehow, by their very existence, unwittingly perpetuated racism. Their own success was proof of their guilt, so blame became the watchword!

Given only criticism and no instruction on how to move through the abrupt changes in society, the majority floundered and became silent. The national media and
university kibitzers would not grant it a place at the opinion table. Ridiculed, isolated to the outside, and without real influence, the middle class conversation became splintered into dissent and arguments, which tainted rational men and inflamed the fearful ones.

Not without resources, this majority grew more silent; or it raised its defenses with  belligerence-cum-violence. The two standard political parties sat by impotently. So southern citizens, either feeling blamed or driven by fear, lined up behind an overt reactionary, George Wallace; and peace protesters rallied around a radical pacifist, George McGovern. These two strong versions came from the extreme ends of the 1960s spectrum.

Personal Observation:

Sadly, after having personally worked and socialized with Blacks for decades, I see the Great Divide of Ideologies re-erupting, flavoring the discussion, and fomenting racial discord again today. As a useful citizen, it is imperative to stay informed and to perceive statements properly. However, naive, uninformed citizens are the most vulnerable to slanted dogma, no matter from where it comes. They can be easily motivated to violence. I, therefore, implore the uninformed to read more, broaden its horizons, and become better informed. If not, please use good common sense to discern/ignore/resist such corrupted ploys designed by those with an agenda to block racial harmony .

I especially recommend  The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple to non-traditional learners and those wanting advanced literacy before applying to college. As a mystery series, this Picaresque helps develop critical thinking skill, subtly builds a PSAT+ vocabulary, and increases common knowledge. Within realistic stories, it explores a broad range of 1960s topics from a historical-fiction perspective, topics still remaining raw and relevant in the 2000s.

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