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Awakenings” by Judith Vecchione Essay

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Updated: Apr 27th, 2020

The Eyes on the Prize: Awakenings video dwells upon the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. The video describes the situation in the United States in the 1950-1960s. The Eyes on the Prize depicts the horrors of lynching and injustice of segregation. The video also shows the struggle of black people for their basic rights, for equality. Bright examples of segregation and lynching are also revealed in the video. Whereas the case with Emmet Till had quite a controversial ending, Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience resulted at the beginning of a very powerful movement.

Emmet Till was a 14-year-old boy who was found murdered in Mississippi in September 1955. Reportedly, he flirted with a white woman in a candy store. Two local white men were accused of killing the teenager.

It is important to note that the court was highly segregated. The black press and even a black congressman had to sit in a special place at the end of the hall. The major witness who took courage to testify against the defendants was Emmet’s uncle Mose Wright, who said that those two men (defendants) came to his house to talk to Emmet the night before the teenager’s body was found.

The video also contains recollections of Emmet’s cousin Curtis Jones. Jones stated that young boys were simply fooling around, but Emmet (who came from Chicago and was not aware of the situation in the south) broke one of the rules of segregation. Irrespective of all facts, the two white men were found not guilty as all the juries were white men.

Another segregation rule was broken in Montgomery. Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white woman. Although it was not the first act of civil disobedience, Rosa Parks’ act resulted in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Black people understood that white people were not going to give black people more rights. Black people also acknowledged that they should be organized as this could make them stronger. Of course, they were right. No one thought the boycott could last so long.

Bus companies lost lots of money, as black people were determined. They organized demonstrations and discussions. White people were trying to intimidate black people organizing groups of Ku Klux Klan. However, black people were not afraid anymore; they went to court. They claimed that segregation was unconstitutional. The boycott can be regarded as a very successful campaign which made white people listen to black people. The boycott resulted in the great Civil Rights Movement, which led to the end of segregation.

Another case of breaking segregation rules took place in Jackson. A few black people occupied places in a part where white people were served. This led to violence: these black people were first humiliated and then even bitten. Police officers were informed about the act, but they did nothing to protect protestors. Surprisingly, as the protestors were bitten, two white females joined them.

Therefore, it is possible to admit that violence made others (white people) see that all people were equal, and no one had the right to hurt people only because of the color of their skin. The protestors could have been injured, but the president of Tougaloo College Dr. Beittel prevented the crowd from hurting the protestors. He also asked police officers to escort the protestors.

Anne Moody stated that after the incident, she understood that “whites had a sickness, an incurable disease in its final stage.” This civil rights activist meant that those white people did not understand what they were doing as they were blind. Moody understood that she should not hate those people, but she should try to heal them. She understood that she and people like her should make whites open their eyes and open their minds. All people should know that all people of the democratic United States are equal.

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