The tragic video of brutal killing of 46years George Floyd; a Black American, on 25th May has sparked a fierce conflagration across the world. The video shows how an armless black man is put down on pavement and hold by four policemen. The main accused Derek Chauvin has pressed hard his knee into his neck that finally caused his death. Despite multiple requests by George Floyd, white police officer didn’t pay any heed, ignored his cries of distress and finally murdered him mercilessly.
The moment video got viral on social media all and sundry engulfed in a wave of indignation and people rose in revolt in almost all major US cities. By then, demonstrations went global extemporaneously. Though racism is illegal by any mean in US constitution but the prejudice and hatred against colored people prevails in the minds and attitudes of majority of white people. This animosity sparks by time to time. It has never been wiped out completely. The recent grotesque killing of George Floyd in US state of Minnesota has invited, once again, the ire of black community, erupting in violent protests. The protest grows severe and grimmer with each passing day. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that US President Donald Trump has deployed 62 thousand army men in 24 US states. To understand the recent incident, it is necessarily enough to give snippet of the major events of US history. The land where institution of slavery got its roots entrenched deeply.
The struggle of Black men against racial discrimination and for equal rights encompasses a long history. Black people have long been facing hatred and prejudice in all walks of life. Albeit, they have been accompanied by thousand of White people as well in their struggle for equal rights. But the heart wrenching murder of George Floyd has sparked a new confrontation. It also puts a serious question on Americans widely accepted values of equality, freedom and justice. By going deep into US history, one could find that Americans have not been as good humans as are portrayed by Western commercial media. This is a land where slavery was first institutionalized. It was during 1630 to 1840 when almost about half a million African people were brought to America as slaves. This trade benefited the wealthy people, the most. They felt no shy in scratching the face of humanity. These bugs set new records of trials and tribulations in the face of humanity. They preferred their material gains over humanitarian values.
Evidently, American Declaration of Independence (1776) is regarded as the sole representative legal document of individuals life and liberty. But when studied thoroughly, one could find many atrocious laws embodied in it. The declaration encompasses George Orwell’s famous words in true essence, “All people are equal, but some are more equal.” Unfortunately, slaves were not ensured equal rights in it. They were not considered so fortunate to be included in the list of White men.
Similarly, slavery became the major issue that plunged America into civil war. American elite never wanted its vested interests to be sabotaged. Resultantly, they started a secessionist movement which turned into a bloody civil war. It was during that hard time, leaders like Ibrahim Lincoln emerged on US political screen. Ibrahim helped passing the historical thirteenth amendment which abolished slavery. From there, started a new chapter of American history.
Despite the fact that slavery was abolished, hatred against colored people didn’t wipe out. They never got rid of prejudicial attitude. They experienced it everywhere. In educational institutions, in Hospitals, in social gatherings, and so on. Black people vied more and more for sociopolitical rights. Their struggle bore fruits for them in the shape of fourteenth and fifteenth amendment. Regrettably, the existing detriment and detestation against them didn’t lessen. Those developments were anathema to majority of White people. Their disdain ultimately lad to the establishment of infamous Jim Crow Laws. The laws legalized segregation. Those too, once, were practiced in South Africa. Jim Crow laws created a gulf between Whites and Blacks. The laws supported racial discrimination. Black people were prevented from voting due to high literacy rate. The laws upheld White supremacy over Blacks. Sadly, US Supreme Court also validated such derogatory laws in an infamous Plessy Vs Ferguson (1896) judgement.
Decidedly after World War II, a stringent demand for the civil rights of colored people got momentum. This was a time when people from different quarters saw segregation as a social evil. There prevailed a severe pressure from public that Supreme Court declared segregation unlawful in famous Brown Vs Board of Education verdict in 1954. Even though, the verdict defined Jim Crow laws unconstitutional and unlawful but it didn’t change the mindset. Majority of people still believed in White supremacy. Some of the reminiscent of those laws were still practiced. People of European origin enjoyed right to sit first in bus in US state Montgomery and in many other states They were to be offered seat despite having no vacancy in bus. A black man had to leave his seat for a White man. Same was scrutinized by Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist, when she denied offering her seat to a White man. She was thrown out of the bus. Resultantly, Black people boycotted the Montgomery bus service for 385 days. Finally, Supreme Court interfered and abolished bus laws in favor of colored people in 1956.
After Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. emerged on American political horizon. He kept and led demonstration in multiple cities and raised voice against racial discrimination. The movement came to head when almost 0.2 million people gathered, marched and demanded equal rights in US capital, Washington DC. Martin Luther’s famous speech “I have a dream” aired from there. The speech then became a symbol of equality, justice and freedom and a powerful slogan against all sorts of inequality and injustice. Finally, in 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed which outlaws discrimination based on caste and color, race and religion, and gender and national origin. Though the law was passed very recently, Martin Lither King was shot dead, triggering behind his martyrdom a severe concern. Will America be a country truly practicing principles of equality and justice?
Nonetheless, aforementioned tumultuous laws are past account of history now. But there are many people who still fancy Jim Crow laws. They leave no stone unturned to revive that vicious cycle. The ruthless murder of George Floyd symbolizes continuation of such abominable designs. It seems Martin Luther’s dream has been pressed hard by those bugs. Such ignominious acts of brutality and inhumanity once again has led the US at crossroad. Will racism ever end in US? The question is still as elusive as was 200 years ago.