In his article Mr. Local Custom Must Die, Gregory McMillan discusses the status of black people in the American South. One of his major arguments is that gradualism or slow evolutionary change could not bring significant improvements to the lives of African-Americans.
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Moreover, this author believes that the Federal Government had to intervene to reduce social tensions existing in the country. The author also noted that American society could encounter significant internal conflicts if these problems had not been addressed by the state. These are the main issues that should be examined more closely.
In order to elaborate his arguments, Gregory McMillan says that many social activists, who could be both black and white, did not have sufficient political power to eliminate existing discrimination. Their opinions could simply be disregarded by local legislators.
In contrast, policy-makers were interested in the presentation of the status quo or the situation when African-Americans had no chance to uphold their rights. Thus, they did not want to make any radical changes. Thus, one can say that democracy in the South did not work very effectively.
This is one of the main issues that this author focuses on. Furthermore, the journalist notes that many of the initiatives supported by the general public were not properly implemented. For instance, one can mention that schools in the South failed to integrate black students even though many people regarded education as a critical factor for reducing inequalities.
Furthermore, Gregory McMillan points out that gradualism did not promote the economic welfare of black people. In his opinion, many of them could not secure employment primarily because of prejudices that entrepreneurs could have held against them. In the long term, this disparity in income level could also result in hostilities.
Overall, this evidence illustrates that gradualism resulted in stagnation, rather than social progress in the South. In turn, the author argues that by turning a blind eye to this problem, the society could eventually undermine its own welfare.
As it has been said before, Gregory McMillan insists on the intervention of the federal government as an alternative to gradualism. Moreover, in his view, the further delay could prove fatal for American society. This is one of the reasons why the author mentions the Sharpeville massacre which took place in South Africa. He argues that the United States could also face a similar disaster provided that the state did not try to eliminate racial inequalities.
In turn, changes in the legislature were instrumental for reducing the risks of open hostilities and violence. Moreover, he stresses the role of businesses that should not stay neutral in this debate since their products and services could be boycotted by the public. On the whole, this author emphasizes the need for rapid changes because in the early sixties the unity of the American society could be at risk.
These examples indicate that the legacies of slavery were difficult to overcome, even though many people living in the American South did not support racial ideology. The principle of evolutionary change was not suitable for eliminating inequalities existing in the society there was no legal incentive to eradicate discrimination.
In his article, Gregory McMillan urges the policy-makers to adopt a different attitude toward the difficulties encountered by African-Americans. His major argument is that the state could not remain indifferent to these people; otherwise, the country could be affected by a catastrophic social crisis.