Today’s theme is Civil Rights History.
Most people today know about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. But the history of civil rights in this country has scars on the republic that go back to it’s founding.
Civil rights is like a multi-layer cake. Glenn had a cake on the set and cut a slice out of it. There were about ten layers of different colors. He said that you have to open it so you can see what happened.
President Lyndon Johnson got credit for passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But a prior Republican president actually pushed to get the first Civil Rights Act passed.
The screen showed the text of the 5th and 6th amendments (right to due process, right to a speedy trial). Then a clip of the attack on Pearl Harbor was shown with President Roosevelt speaking to Congress asking them to declare war.
Shortly later, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order moved hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans (120,000), German-Americans (11,000) and Italian-Americans into internment camps during the duration of the war. It was the biggest violation of civil rights in our history. Clips were shown of people describing what had happened to them and their families. Also shown were clips of Japanese-Americans being transported by train to the camps and some still photos of what life in the camps was like. People were given six days notice of the movement. Their internment lasted three and a half years. The last camp closed at the end of 1945. No case of Japanese-American espionage was ever recorded during the war.
This experience illustrates just how fragile our rights are.
In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which granted an apology and granted monetary redress payments to those interned.
For those not interned, there were other restrictions as well. They were not permitted to own guns, cameras, short wave radios, etc.
Glenn also discussed Woodrow Wilson. He also interned German-Americans in internment camps during world war one. He also re-segregated government offices and the military. Yet historians still laud this guy.
In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Warren to the Supreme Court. Eisenhower was the first President to greet black leaders in the White House. He was also the first battlefield commander to have mixed combat units.
In 1957, President Eisenhower pushed to get a Civil Rights Act passed. However, it was held up by the then Senate Majority Leader, Lyndon Johnson. Seven years later Johnson, as President, signed the Act into law.
Glenn discussed some of the early history of relations with the Native Americans. President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which literally moved Indians out of the country. He also discussed Thomas Jefferson and his beliefs about the Indians.
Long before Columbus, there were large Native American cities throughout America.
He showed an architectural drawing of one such city in Ohio. He compared some of its features with similarities of Egyptian pyramids. Near that site they had unearthed a coffin that contained the remnants of a body. Inside was also a small box with a figure inside. There was writing on the box that turned out to be an old form of Hebrew and Rabbis could read it.
Glenn then discussed the origin of slavery in America.
In early colonial America, indentured servitude existed, not slavery. When your period of servitude was up you were given “Freedom Dues”. This was usually a plot of land and a gun. Indentured servitude was common throughout the world at that time. Servitude was not based on color, but on creed.
Massachusetts was the first colony to recognize slavery. Other colonies followed soon thereafter. The first slave owner was Anthony Johnson, a black man who had previously been an indentured servant. Anthony bought back his contract after about 15 years (about 1640). He obtained an indentured servant, also a black man. There was a dispute between the two and Anthony was able to convince the court to extend his servant’s period of servitude to life. Also, around that time there was the case of three indentured servants who escaped. They were ultimately caught. Two of the three had their periods of servitude extended for four years. The third had his extended for life. The first two were white and the third was black. This was the beginning of slavery in the colonies.
Reform started in church. Religious whites started this cultural change. Since the existing political parties were not addressing the slavery issue, a new party was formed, the Republican Party. Abraham Lincoln was the first President elected by that party in 1860.
In closing, Glenn discussed the importance of religion, commerce, government and science as common themes throughout human history. We should know and understand how those themes affected their times and what happened to make sure that violations do not happen again.
He pointed out that his TV program cannot cover all 400 years of U.S. history, so people will need to do additional research on their own.