Claim Two: A Closer Look at Race
In 1909, the NAACP, one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most widely recognized grassroots civil rights organizations, was founded in order bring awareness to racial justice. The continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois were two major events that led to the call to action and formation of the NAACP. The NAACP seeks to remove barriers of racial discrimination and secure, for all people, the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments vowed to end slavery, provide equal protection of the law, and the right to vote for men of color. Throughout the early 1900s, the NAACP gave voice to marginalized people groups, specifically African Americans. In the mid 1950s, the NAACP was instrumental in the success of Brown v. the Board of Education, which was a decision to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson. Brown v. the Board of Education declared separate but equal as unconstitutional. This landmark court case signifies a shift in United States history from segregation to integration. The NAACP continued active presence and involvement throughout the Civil Rights Movement and continues to fight for marginalized people groups to this day.
In 1988, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson published a poem titled “I Sit and Sew,” which provided insight into the life of a Black woman during the late 1980s. Dunbar-Nelson goes into detail about her physical, mental, and emotional state. Her hands are tired, her head weighed down, her face grim, but she must sit and sew. She thinks about the wasted fields of her ancestors, the pleading cries, and the slavery she refers to as a holocaust of hell. By recounting the history of her ancestors, Dunbar-Nelson brings to light the heavy burden and weight that never leaves her identity or mind in the late 1980s. In the last line of her poem, she calls on God and then reminds herself to sew the useless seam and the idle patch. The organization of the NAACP, and its continued presence in society represents an ongoing fight for racial justice. Furthermore, the poem by Dunbar-Nelson signifies the extent to which one Black female feels the impacts of American history.