Monday, April 28, 2008

Freedom in The Movement

I have always thought that being politically active was a crucial task that Americans should exhibit. When we live in a country that is “home of the free and land of the brave,” we should expect that at times this “freedom” will be questioned and compromised; as a country we should fight to make this freedom a little bit more bearable for everybody and not just one group of people.

What is freedom? Can it be defined? In class I defined freedom as the equal treatment and judgment of people; within the boundaries of this, people should have the right to do as they please when they want. However, freedom is not as simple as my definition. I believe that it is this universal difficultly to pin down just what freedom is that has caused so much distress in the United States.

In Anne Moody’s Book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, she talks about the first sit-in she was ever in and the violence that ensued. On page 26, Anne writes, in detail, about some of the violence that broke out during the sit-in, “Down on my knees on the floor, I saw Memphis lying near the lunch counter with blood running out of the corners of his mouth. As he tried to protect his face, the man who’d thrown him down kept kicking him against the head”. While Anne is attempting to protest peacefully a mob of angry white people attack her and the other protesters. After the protest “about ninety policemen were standing outside the store: they had been watching the whole thing through the windows, but had not come in to stop the mob or do anything”. She further notes that, “After the sit-in, all I could think of was how sick Mississippi whites were. They believed so much in the segregated Southern way of life, they would kill to preserve it” (pg. 267). I was a little shocked by Anne’s description of the violence that occurred and the sentiment of white people in the South. I always knew that during The Movement- that took place during the late fifties and sixties- that many acts of violence occurred. I would like to think that people would not kill a group of people based on the color of their skin. However, in this capacity and on a larger scale the act of repressing a group of people by belittling those with absurd laws and junctions that leads to violence has happened many times throughout history. The fact of the matter is that during this period white people felt entitled to having more power over black people; whether they felt threatened because they thought that by having equality for everybody that the “white race” would meet its demise, is a concept that has been mentioned over and over again, but I believe that many factors contributed to this rocky point in American history.

What I love about this period in history is the compassion and feelings that brought together all these people and formed, The Movement. The pureness of the struggle for Human rights is so powerful, yet a difficult task to complete. I believe that for this period of time and train of thought that the people involved in The Movement were the most revolutionary thinkers and performers. They acted on their instincts and attempted to make a difference. I feel that our current young generation is a very technical one that is not as politically spontaneous and passionate, but rather apathetic.

In the end I would like to think that “Everybody should like everybody else” as said by Andy Warhol. Not everybody is the same but this is what makes life so beautiful. I think everybody should strive to be their own individual because as we are confronted with violence, racist people, attitudes, and ideas we can use our individuality to fight these injustices.


Jessica Markham said...

I found Anne Moody's account of the Movement to be very intense and touching. The section is so full of emotion and passion.

I was also shocked by Moody's accounts of the violence that she witnessed and endured during the Movement. The description of Memphis' beating left me appalled. It's horrific that someone would kick another human being in the head repeatedly just because he was working towards equality. What is more appalling is that such violence broke out over a sit-in, which was a nonviolent approach.

I find it disheartening that there are so many apathetic young people in this country nowadays. Hopefully, people will come to realize that they can make a difference. I believe or at least I'd like to hope that most of the apathy spawns from feelings of hopelessness. If people started in their own communities (or nearby communities) rather than thinking on a global scale, they would probably feel more motivated, and they could then see that their actions do matter. When people start believing that they have to save the whole world, that's when the despair seems to set in.

Mia R said...

I think you made a very good and interesting point about how our generation is much more technical and apathetic is very interesting. I had actually been thinking about that lately when I received yet another invite to a philanthropic facebook group. I know the case with the vast majority of those groups is that people join them and then forget about it minutes later and very rarely participate in any more activism suggested in the group bio past accepting the invitation. Perhaps this apathy stems from a general lack of direct injustice experiences, and past that it is unfortunately difficult to engage someone about an injustice that does not affect them personally. I admire all Moody and the rest of her fellow Freedom Fighters did, especially in the direct face of such violence and adversity it is truly an amazing feat that she kept her hopes up and spirits high.

awolf said...

I was so impressed with Anne Moody’s activism in the “Movement” section of the book. I think it is amazing that a woman born into nothing, who worked hard all of her life to earn enough for her and her family, who received basically straight A’s, and went to college had the courage and passion to devote all of herself to the civil rights movement. I was amazed by how selfless Moody was throughout the book. I would think that she would want to be selfish for a moment in her life after working so hard, but no she spent basically every penny in her pocket on others. I thought it was amazing when she gave her $25.00 to the two girls in Canton who needed clothing and supplies to be able to go to school. She also used up all of her money that she had saved up in the “College” section to spend on food for her fellow classmates during the strike against campus food. Moody spent her days devoted to equality and justice. Meanwhile, she was exhausted and was basically skin and bone, but she kept going! Moody’s participation in the Movement cost her, her family, her health, her college grades, her ability to go home to her childhood town, and much more.

I have also thought a lot about our generation’s activism. I know that there are people devoting their lives to causes, however I feel like our sense of community and camaraderie is not like it was during the Civil Rights Movement. We seem to be caught up in our own lives and our own success. I think that we have become such a competitive society focused on competing with one another; in school, employment, relationships, etc that we have gotten lost in our own selfish needs. Life continues to remain complicated and we push our activism aside for a day when we have more time…however, there is never a perfect time and “if not now, when?”

Mari said...

The Freedom in the movement, was a very interesting topic to talk about in class. As the presenter said in class we defined what we thought freedom meant. And the truth is that I am sure there are many meanings to the work freedom. In the end of her bog she says that she would like to think that “Everybody should like everybody else” as said by Andy Warhol. Not everybody is the same but this is what makes life so beautiful. I think everybody should strive to be their own individual because as we are confronted with violence, racist people, attitudes, and ideas we can use our individuality to fight these injustices." agree with her in what is said because I believe that if everyone would start being friendly start liking one another for who they are and not hate them for there appearance this would be a much better world. because I feel as if in the world we live in there is to much violence and hate. I also like the was she brought up the reading "coming of age in Mississippi" because I think that is a very good example that I can talk to they are protesting for good not wanting to make any harm, but the white folks came and beat them and no one stopped the fight even though the cops had been standing outside the whole time. It is sad to say but when there is hate going on in racist, these are the things that are bond to happen.