Commenting about journalism and equality for black Americans, Phyl Garland, a prominent reporter and journalism professor, said, “After the Civil War there was an enormous burst of energy, a desire to communicate, a desire to connect with black people establishing newspapers...It was the first opportunity to use the written word without fear of reprisal.” From that time forward, black journalists in the United States gained further opportunities in the press and used the media to galvanize support and communicate news relating to the Civil Rights Movement. Civil rights movements can be defined as political campaigns for equality by members of an oppressed group of people and their allies. It is crucial to understand the history of the African American Civil Rights Movement during the mid-1900s to understand how the role of black journalists changed. Before the Civil Rights Movement, blacks were disrespected and underrepresented in society and in the white press, because of racism and the legacy of slavery, persisting long after the Civil War ended in 1865. Emphasizing civil disobedience and non-violent protests, the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement aimed to end race-based segregation and discrimination against black Americans. Journalists and reporters, or people who provide news and analysis to the public through newspapers, television, and radio, documented and called attention to the progress of the movement. Black journalists laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement, and then saw their role and treatment change as the movement advanced.
Before and during the Civil Rights Movement, black journalists faced overt discrimination and violence when reporting. For example, in her memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams, Be...
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In conclusion, black reporters’ role in journalism and the way they were treated by whites changed as they helped the Civil Rights Movement progress. The dearth of African Americans in reporting reminds us of job inequalities today in other workplaces, and of injustice toward women seeking employment and equal pay. The issue of equal rights in journalism also raises the question: Why does our society still have a lower percentage of black people in journalism compared to the whole population? Ultimately, we must agree that people should not be judged by their racial background and that the inequalities of racism can cause differing perspectives to be lost. The evidence strongly suggests that black journalists advanced the Civil Rights Movement through their news reporting and magnanimous determination to overcome discrimination.
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