These are protests that came to prominence in the course of 1950s, which raised concern against the incessant discrimination and racial segregation experienced by the American Africans and other marginalized groups in the southern America.
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Continued oppression against people of different color, race, politics, or even religion had inspired many young American Africans to join action in the struggle for equality (Chong 23). Some of the prominent figures in the Movement include Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois and Rosa Parks among others.
Although the civil rights mass protest was officially formalized in the 1950s and 1960s, the fight for equality in various institutions of the U.S. had started long time ago. Community leaders in various segmentations of the society had showed resistance to the white supremacy and domination against the African Americans which had been abounded in some states. ‘Everyday’s Use’ written at the peak of the transformational movement, is a perfect expression and reflection of the issue of the aspects surrounding the civil rights movement.
Set at the height of the social issue, the story is a real representation of the key aspects of the day. Here, the writer applies writing to highlight some of the main issues surrounding the Black Power Movement. Walker’s purpose on the story is achieved through the creative formation of characters who symbolize the plight of blacks and women as observed during those times.
The movement was initially facilitated by the progressive efforts of the descendants of African slaves who had always tried to resist the institution of slavery upon them. Regular protests and campaigns of resistance were some of the common characteristics associated with this movement. Civil disobedience and activities of nonviolent demonstrations and protests were also common. Sometimes, these would bear crisis scenarios between government authorities and the activists resulting to confrontations.
Although it took many years for the issues highlighted in the movement to be addressed, the protests had significant impact to the modern world. Many changes were realized owing to the pressure of the movement. For instance, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were introduced in the years 1964 and 1965, respectively thus granting all American citizens basic civil privileges, regardless of their race and ethnicity.
Alice Walker is a renowned female activist who was born and raised at a time when the Civil Right Movements in South U.S. was taking shape. At the height of the transitional movement, Alice, then a college student at Spelman, was lucky to meet and rub shoulders with some of the prominent players in the movement, such as Martin Luther King Jr. This inspired her to become one of the strongest female activists in the American history.
Her contribution in the struggle for human rights and equality has continued to raise strong impact to the world. According to Tuten, Alice is a woman with many records in life and her largest contribution in life can be perceived through her countless struggles against discrimination and oppression (126). ‘Everyday’s Use’ is just one of her many writings about race and gender which raised much alert in the civil rights movement.
Racism, feminism and the many issues frequently raised by young American Africans who’d tend to lose respect to the culture that gave birth to them are some of the issue that Alice explores in ‘Everyday’s Use.’
As it would be observed, the story in this essay is Walker’s response to the social discourse of the 1950s and 1960s, when the civil rights movement took place. The writer has vividly expressed some of the issues that continue to plague modern American communities, as expressed through the lives of the characters in the story (Whitsitt 448).
Economic, social, and political issues are illustrated in the story, through the family of the narrator, who is referred by the title of ‘Mama’ or Mrs. Johnson. The story strongly illustrates the big contrast between the narrator and Maggy, one of her two daughters who still share the same conservative life with her, and ‘Wangero’ or Dee, the educated daughter who scorns the culture that gave birth to her.
As observed from this story, the writer has based the two sisters on aspects constituting her own character. Whereby Maggy represents her difficult childhood, Dee remains to be a vivid reflection of her latter life which is characterized by education and success; the two aspects that would enable her to take part in the civil rights movement.
The two different positions represent the culture and the progress of the American Africans in mid-to late-twentieth-century times. The story is set in a time when the lives of American Africans were undergoing a radical transition.
These groups of people were able to gain freedom of civil rights at last, through the glory of civil rights movement, after many years of oppression and discrimination from the whites (Gianturco and Tuttle 18). The final outcome reached on the story, is a representation of the results which succeeded the movement as American Africans started gaining recognition in various segments of the American society.
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This freedom would see the emergence of a new generation that has contradicting views about crucial aspects of life. As a matter of fact, the writer has used the story to defend the legacy of her family and culture and to pay homage to the initial inhabitants of the South, where she grew up.
Chong, Dennis. Collective action and the civil rights movement, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Print.
Gianturco, Paola, and T. Tuttle. In her hands: craftswomen changing the world, New York: PowerHouse Books, 2004. Print.
Tuten, Nancy. “Alice Walker’s Everyday Use.” The Explicator 51. 2 (1993): 125-128. Print.
Whitsitt, Sam. “In Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice Walker’s Everyday Use.” African American Review 34. 3 (2000): 443-459. Print.