Power and the Black Community: A Reader on Racial Subordination in the United States

By Sethard Fisher | Go to book overview

III. Historical Gains,
Losses, and Patterns
of Suppression

The social process characterizing Negro life in the United States may be seen as a periodic acceleration of social, economic, and political gain followed by a halt and deterioration of gains realized. The overall effect of this process has been to stabilize the social position of black Americans at the very bottom of the stratification hierarchy. The selections In Part III deal with the historical operation of this cyclic process. The first two chapters discuss political gains for Negroes after Emancipation and organizational alliances with whites which held political promise. The fact that Negro officeholders were eventually replaced by whites in Georgia, and that black-white alliances did not realize their political potential is significant. These efforts suffered the typical fate of attempts at betterment of the black community. Aspects of the process by which the demise of such efforts has typically come about is reflected in Chapters 7 and 8.

Terror against black people in the United States of America has been commonplace and a major means of maintaining patterns of white supremacy. Much of the terror was the work of a still-thriving organization of white supremacists known as the Ku Klux Klan.The subjects of terror and the Klan are taken up in Chapters 9 and 10.

Chapter 10 deals more generally with the subject of violence In black-white relations. One can clearly see from this study the chronic role of lawlessness and violence as a major means of ensuring black subordination and white supremacy. The fact that illegal violence against black Americans has often been practiced by agents of the law themselves will be specifically dealt with in a subsequent chapter.

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