Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! In honor of Dr. King, this week's focus is on African American history and civil rights. There are a few potential questions on the citizenship test that address these issues.
Question 76: What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
The Atlantic Slave Trade began in the 1400s by the Spanish. They brought enslaved Africans to the New World to work on plantations. The practice was continued as more Europeans migrated to North and South America and felt that they needed slave labor to work in agriculture. The practice of bringing African people across the Atlantic Ocean ended in the late 1800s.
Question 77: Name one problem that led to the Civil War.
Answer: slavery; economic reasons; state's rights
Keep in mind you only have to provide one of these answers to get this question correct.
The reasons behind the Civil War were complicated. Slavery was a main concern for people in the North, where slavery was outlawed and black people were free. However, in the South, people felt they still needed slaves to run profitable agricultural plantations. In addition, state governments in the South believed that it should be up to each individual state, not the federal government, to decide whether slavery was legal.
Question 78: What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
Answer: Freed the slaves
The Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive Order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. The Proclamation freed over 3 million slaves living in the United States, but since nearly all of these slaves lived in the Confederate South, they were not immediately released. However, if they could escape from their masters and make it to the Union North, they would be free.
Question 79: What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
Answer: Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement took place in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a social movement that aimed to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans. The movement had many parts, including sit-ins, bus boycotts, and marches. The movement began with the United States Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that state laws segregating public schools were unconstitutional. The movement culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, which outlawed discrimination of any sort based on race, including voting discrimination, and provided that all people should have access to equal housing regardless of race.
Question 80: What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?
Answer: fought for civil rights
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist Minister and leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He argued for non-violent resistance to achieve his goals. He helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma march, and the March on Washington, during which he gave his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968.
Dr. King inspired millions and he made a permanent impact on the rights of minorities in this country. However, the work he started in the 1950s is not over; people of all races, gender identities, nationalities and sexual orientation still face discrimination all across the country every day. If you'd like to get involved to help fight for equal rights, here are some links to good organizations that would appreciate your help!
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) aims to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
- The Human Rights Campaign strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
- The Anti-Defamation League was founded to stop the defamation of Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Now, the ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.
- Planned Parenthood is the country's leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider, providing women with life saving cancer screenings, as well as affordable birth control.
- Finally, an organization that is close to my heart: Raices (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) is a non-profit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Central and South Texas.
There are many more deserving organizations than I could possibly list here. The best way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy is to get involved in your community with one of these organizations and help promote equality and justice for all.