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Civil rights unfinished


Achievement of the right to what were called civil rights by black Americans did not signal the end of the struggle. So much of the culture and opportunities remained in the hands of people who did not endorse that attainment new struggles had to be undertaken. The opportunity to purchase a hamburger where one wanted did not mean that the one with the new opportunity could participate equally in the opening of businesses or joining the professions. It was after the attainment of civil rights that black numbers began to indicate increasing difficulties. There were more crimes, greater ghetto behavior, lack of achievement in schools and slow increases in professional achievement outside the areas of sports and entertainment.

As important was the decrease in a willingness to convince the majority culture that black limitations were costing prosperity for nearly all the people. Because they were not encouraged to open businesses and to live regular lives the cost of black maintenance went up. More of them had to be maintained at public expense, including in prisons and other forms of detention. Civil rights may have made black Americans feel better, even to the election of a president, but they did not change positively the opportunity structure for these people. The few who were allowed to progress in the system were told to believe that their achievements were due to their own use and spending of social capital.

There would be great concern if the generality of black citizens began to experience general upward mobility. In a typical family of several children, not all were expected to succeed. Most could be derailed believing that an open system meant whatever happened was due to the efforts or the individual. Majority group members with influence could show their determination to limit black upward mobility. Schools could be stripped of opportunities to encourage black development by such strategies as posting black teachers to work with children with special problems and not in those areas that have most to do with encouraging development. More attention may be placed on proving to the child that he or she has none or limited ability than in encouraging growth and creativity.

It was mainly through the efforts of black activists that civil rights were attained. Seldom did majority members feel that these rights should be accorded on the basis of the citizenship of the people. A civil right would be to demonstrate to the public that limitations on the overall growth of any people are detrimental to the public.

We argue that civil rights mean more than the opportunity to accept, but implies one of participation in and contributions to the various features of citizenship. Booker T. Washington thought it was as important to make a dollar as to spend one wherever one chose. A civil right therefore would be to open a business which would call for the collective efforts of the people. But this cannot be done unless people are taught to work together in the making and spending of money. Very few people have thought of how blacks could pool their funds to accomplish economic goals for all. For example, very few blacks have enough money individually to open, say, motels. Large cities such as Detroit and Chicago and Los Angeles do not have black motels of competitive quality. With blacks throwing in as little as $10 each enough money could be raised to fund such businesses. A civil right would be that of going public in funding in order to open or promote businesses. It is as much a civil right to open a business, using group funds, as to open a church and to beg for support from the general public.

Gordon D. Morgan

University of Arkansas professor


Third world country

David Koon did a great job with his article on the concerns over the mining reclamation in Hot Springs, UMETCO/Union Carbide site. For decades the bleeder sludge sat in huge piles, leaching into the aquifers, draining into Wilson Bay/Lake Catherine and just blowing in the wind. Now that it is "buried", they want everyone to thank them for such a great job! UMETCO has been non-compliant since 2009. The "illegal" by-pass at Indian Springs has high levels of sulfate, dissolved solids and chloride. ADEQ and PC&E have been aware of this for years, just check out the website. Arkansans are being treated like a third world country by Union Carbide. It's time the governor steps in and tells ADEQ, PC&E and the Department of Health to do its job right. I'm glad I don't drink any of the water downstream!!!

Cindi Strom

Hot Springs

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