||African Americans denied citizenship
||In the Dred Scott decision, the
U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act and declares
that "Negroes," whether free or enslaved, are not citizens.
As Chief Justice Taney puts it, they have "no rights which
any white man is bound to respect." Free Black people are
taxed like whites, but they do not enjoy the same protection
and entitlements. African Americans are not granted citizenship
until the Fourteenth Amendment is ratified in 1868. In the
meantime, the wealth of centuries of slavery accrues exclusively
to whites. When slaves in Washington, D.C., are freed in 1862,
the only reparation paid is not to slaves but to slaveowners
for loss of their property.
||Evolution shapes debate
||When Darwin introduces the mechanism for evolution,
it dramatically alters public debate. "Racial" differences,
previously explained by some as the result of separate, divine
origins, are now seen as the result of historical change and
divergence over time. Evolution provides a new paradigm for
comparing group "progress" but it also introduces the threat
of competition and possible extinction. Herbert Spencer captures
the public's excitement and anxiety when he coins the phrase
"survival of the fittest" in applying Darwin's ideas to the
social realm. Advocates of Spencer's "social darwinism" view
the hierarchy of races as the product of "nature," not specific
institutions and policies. Consequently, social reform or
improvement is pointless.
||14th Amendment guarantees equal rights
||Passage of the Fourteenth Amendment is a landmark
event, not only for African Americans but for all Americans.
Conceived during Reconstruction, the amendment extends citizenship
to African Americans and attempts to heal the wounds of the
Civil War by emphasizing national unity over sectional divisions.
The amendment defines citizenship for the first time, guarantees
all citizens equal protection and due process under the law,
and most importantly, grants citizens privileges and immunities
that cannot be abridged. Although the amendment's strength
is tested by discriminatory laws and policies throughout the
20th century, the equal protection clause nevertheless forms
the cornerstone of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision
and provides the legal basis for all civil rights and anti-discrimination
efforts to this day.
Birth of eugenics
|Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, coins
the term eugenics, meaning "good genes," to apply Darwin's
ideas to suit his vision of an ideal society engineered through
selective breeding. Eugenics writings find a receptive audience
among white intellectuals in the early 20th century and profoundly
influence many aspects of American life, including immigration
policy, antimiscegenation laws, involuntary sterilization,
and schooling. Although the American eugenics movement collapses
by World War II, its effect on institutions and social policy
is long-lasting, finding its fruition in Nazi Germany.
||Jim Crow segregation begins
||Beginning in the late 19th century, southern
states codify a system of laws and practices to subordinate
African Americans to whites. The "new" social order, reinforced
through violence and intimidation, affects schools, public
transportation, jobs, housing, private life and voting rights.
Cutting across class boundaries, Jim Crow unites poor and
wealthy whites in a campaign of aggression and social control,
while denying African Americans equality in the courts, freedom
of assembly and movement, and full participation as citizens.
The federal government adopts segregation under President
Wilson in 1913, and is not integrated until the 1960s.
||Birthright citizenship established
||Most people take for granted that anyone born
in the U.S. is a citizen. However, that hasn't always been
the case, especially for groups barred from naturalizing.
The 1898 Supreme Court case of Wong Kim Ark v. United States
first establishes the precedent of birthright citizenship
when the court rules that, under the 14th Amendment guarantee,
a Chinese man born in America to immigrant parents is a citizen
even though his parents are ineligible for citizenship. Throughout
the 19th and 20th century, Asians, like other minority groups,
fight consistently for inclusion. The Chinese alone bring
170 cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, most under the 14th Amendment.
||White Man's Burden
||In February 1899, McClure's Magazine publishes
a poem by Rudyard Kipling which advocates American imperialism
in Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. Picking up where
Manifest Destiny leaves off, the concept of the White Man's
Burden not only justifies expansion, it presents the colonization
of people as a noble enterprise. Racial superiority has become
more than common sense - whites now have a moral imperative
to govern inferior peoples, a mission preordained in the hierarchy
of races. Against the backdrop of Jim Crow segregation and
mass immigration from Europe and Asia, the concept figures
prominently in debates over citizenship and social fitness
at home and in the newly acquired territories.
||Europeans seen as not quite white
||At the turn of the century, immigration to the
U.S. from southern and eastern Europe swells dramatically.
Many of the new arrivals are "ethnics" employed in undesirable
low-wage jobs and living in the urban ghetto. Like the African,
Mexican and Chinese Americans also performing unskilled, industrial
labor, these immigrants are seen as "not quite white." Reflecting
this view, anthropologist William V. Ripley publishes The
Races of Europe, dividing whites into a distinct hierarchy
of subraces and sub-sub-races. Yet even the degraded Hebrew,
Celt and Italian are still legally "white" - they are not
denied citizenship or prevented from full participation in
American society. They naturalize, organize, vote, and eventually
amalgamate into whiteness as they move into government-subsidized
white suburbs after WWII and up the economic ladder.
||Japanese and Mexican farm workers strike
||In 1903, Japanese and Mexican farm workers organize
the first multi-ethnic agricultural union to demand fair wages
and labor rights in the sugar-beet industry in Ventura, CA.
The union leads 1200 workers - 90 percent of the labor force
- on strike and scores the first victory against big agribusiness
in the west. Their success attracts the attention of the American
labor movement concentrated in the industrial east. However,
when the Mexican secretary of the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association
applies for a charter from the American Federation of Labor,
it is granted only on condition that the Japanese are excluded.
The JMLA refuses to bend, but without the support of other
organized labor, the union folds within a few years.
||Race on parade at World's Fair
||St. Louis, MO stages a world's fair to showcase
American achievements and celebrate the 100th anniversary
of Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. Nearly 20 million visitors
attend. The fair reflects the culmination of 19th century
racial ideas in science, politics, and culture. Across from
the technology exhibits are groups of indigenous peoples from
around the world displayed in their "natural" habitats - a
"living illustration" of man's hierarchical development on
the earth. By century's end, race is invoked to explain everything:
individual character, the cause of criminality, and the natural
superiority of "higher" races.