Those that spark the flame and those that douse it

There are inspirational Americans who fought against racial discrimination, such as President John F. Kennedy and those who gave their lives for the right of others, like Martin Luther King Jr. However there are also numerous accounts of hate groups and radicals that aspire to corrupt the work these men and women worked so fiercely on. Some hate groups still exist in modern society as well. Some trace their heritage back to the Roman Empire era while others are relatively new. While it is pointless to create a list of all these groups, it is still important for the reader to have an understanding as to what these groups do and why they claim to do so.

New Black Panther Party: This hate group was founded in 1989 in Dallas, Texas. Not to be confused with the Black Panther Party, an existing member of the Black Panther Party was quoted as saying “There is No New Black Panther Party”. This group has become so radical that it is considered one of the most dangerous hate groups in America; their philosophy is to create a fair capitalistic system and to break free of the restraints that have burdened them, restraints that the general population places on them.

This Party has several largely controversial marches and actions that have made them disliked even in the eyes of fellow African-Americans. Some of their controversies have included the 2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal, the morbid remarks made on the April 12, 2007 airing of The O’Reilly Factor, and the Million Man March. The Party lost even more credibility when the head of the New Black Panther Party Philadelphia chapter, King Samir Shabazz, was quoted as saying “I hate white people. All of them.” He also suggested that the Party start killing white babies.

Westboro Baptist Church: This hate group has gained national spotlight from picketing dead soldier’s funerals and football stadiums. They also continued to be in news when they picketed the University of Missouri, Columbia Mo, in protest of the first openly gay, Africa American NFL draft pick hopeful Michele Sams. This small but extremely volatile group has the tendency to promote hate anywhere they go and have become the leaders in promoting discourse through legal means.

Its patriarch, Fred Phelps, who encouraged his congregation to participate in homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Judaism beliefs, founded the church in 1955. The church was also encouraged to participate in picketing of funerals and events where families were in mourning. The hate group also instills anger by holding up pickets with such labels as “Thank God for 9/11, Thank God for Dead Troops”, and a multitude of other vile comments. Even their website promotes disgust and radicalism with the web address being godhatesfags.com. This small group shows how much a few members of our society can generate racism and bigotry.

Ku Klux Klan: Also known as the Klan, the KKK has been established in the United States since 1866. The First Grand Wizard was none other than Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Klan was mainly made up of Confederate veterans. The KKK was/is a brutal hate group whose primary target is the African-American population. At the height of its power the group amassed an astounding number of members, some figures going as high as 4 million active participants. Right after the Civil War, when there was an interior revolution being held, the KKK was known for lynching and burning the bodies of the African-American population. They were brutal in their tactics and considered slaves to still be property.

As property, they should not have been granted freedom and should continue to serve their white masters. While the numbers were at one time quite high for membership within the KKK it has been depleted considerably. Its memberships went from millions in the 1860s – 1900s to only a few thousand in present day society. The group did gain national spotlight in 2016 however, for endorsing President-Elect, Donald Trump. Still, with numbers greatly depleted it is clear that more and more people are coming to terms with diversity and inclusion for all races and religions in modern America.

While hate groups in America are an important aspect of racism, it must be noted that there is also a great deal of the American population who fight just as hard to promote diversity, respect, and inclusion for all members of our society. It also is important to examine the Civil Right leaders who worked tirelessly to bring about change in periods of social unrest and oppression.

Martin Luther King Jr: Best known for his work during the African-American Civil Rights Movement and his “I Have a Dream”, speech, his work helped with the desegregation of white and black Americans in the 1960s. Dr. King took a very different approach to racism and segregation issues of the time and encouraged respectful and peaceful protesting. Protesters were encouraged to wear suits and be respectful to those that oppressed them, even when ramifications occurred.

This peaceful approach was very confusing for the population at that time. Media outlets were starting to be used more to convey issues and ideas for the watching public and confusion was rampant. This was caused by the miscommunication of the stances that certain personnel took. Dr. King’s approach was one of respect and inclusion while other parties, such as the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X, were inclined to violence and hatred. It was also abundantly clear that media outlets took certain parts of events and tailored them to fit their brand. This can be seen most famously by the coverage of Birmingham, Alabama on May, 3, 1963. 

John F. Kennedy: On of the most beloved American Presidents, John F. Kennedy was elected right as the Civil Rights movement reached its peak. President Kennedy was a champion for the African-American population, gaining more than 70 percent of their votes. During his tenure as President, Kennedy saw such protests as The Freedom Rides, the Integration of Ole Miss, and the March on Birmingham. Each of these protest were pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement.

In June of 1963, the University of Alabama refused to admit two black students to their institution, with the backing of Governor George Wallace, the University continued to omit black students which lead to a large protest. President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and had them secure the facility as well as allow the black students to enroll. After the engagement, President Kennedy gave a speech which defined the civil rights crisis as moral, and constitutional. 

Then, in 1963, the comprehensive civil rights bill was passed by Congress and won the endorsement of the House and Senate Republican leaders. The Act had to pass countless hurdles to be ratified and sadly was not completed before Kennedy’s assassination. However, his assassination may have helped the bill pass due to the outpouring of emotion after his death. Therefore it is said that the Civil Rights Act was passed as a means of honoring the fallen president. The Bill created rights for the African-American population that included: outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, and other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; legal suits to enforce desegregation in schools, and outlawing discrimination from employment as well as establishing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This piece of legislation was one of the most conducive to toppling racism in America.

While there are many more that could be mentioned it was more important to show the differences between two men. One was the President of the United States while the other was a Reverend. One was black while the other was white, this fact makes what both men did even more miraculous. Each fought for the American people and their own belief systems and helped abolish the racist mind frame of that time. If each current citizen could strive to be like these two men and build harmonious relationships with the different races and religions, our country would be better because of it.

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