I found this chapter in Zinn’s reading to be one of the most interesting so far. I was surprised by the things Zinn focused on in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the amount of similarities between the things happening in the 60s and right now during the BLM movement. The first sentence of the chapter describing how the black revolt came as a surprise to many is something interesting to think about. The idea that people, specifically whites, at this time were not focused on the racism that was so apparent, and many just lived in a bubble believing things were okay is something that I think is important to think about today as well. While many people after WWII were not focused on anti-racism movements, now, many people are simply ignorant of the fact that there are still many problems with racism in the world. While it’s obvious the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was very different from the BLM movement, I realized there are a lot more parallels between the two than I was expecting. Zinn mentions how “there was rioting in the streets, looting and firebombing of stores” (459), which we saw a lot earlier this year. Like this Civil Rights movement in the 60s, this movement seemed to be a wake up call for many, especially whites who were perhaps unaware of the reality of things in the country.
The other thing I found interesting about this chapter was the way it highlighted Martin Luther King Jr. It’s nearly impossible to talk about the Civil Rights movement without talking about MLK, but Zinn’s focus on him was brief compared to other historical readings I’ve encountered, or been taught. It made me realize that I’ve always associated the Civil Rights movement with MLK, as though one didn’t exist without the other, but in reality the movement was in no way about MLK. In reality, MLK was definitely a major part of the movement, and many could argue made it what it was in the end, but the movement didn’t happen because of him, and there were other people that stepped up as much as he did during the time.
This chapter definitely highlights things I had never thought about in the Civil War movement. The reality about what the government did and the effects it actually had, compared to what I have always learned, doesn’t come as much of a surprise now. I’ve noticed that after reading Zinns chapters I have become a lot more hesitant about believing everything I’ve learned in school about US history, and this chapter just makes it more clear.