Free «My Soul Has Rested» Essay Sample

The book "My Soul Has Rested" proposes readers a unique account of civil rights movements in the South and perception of inequality by American population. From this book, I knew that the civil rights movement was diverse it its nature and did not reflect ideas of all social classes. The contradictions arose even between members of one racial group who misunderstood and misinterpreted political and social actions of each other. Here, I speak about old and new generations of African-Americans who fought for freedom using different methods and approaches.

The multiple historical accounts challenge the King centered story of the civil rights movement. What is argued is that democratic governments can and on occasion do abuse their powers. For the author, tt is enough to show, through random or selective cases and incidents, that arbitrary and vexatious rule is not unknown even in a democratic state; and if such abuses of power are real, they cannot without grave peril be ignored. The problem of minority rights is of necessity an exceptional one, for the minority by definition is comprised of the dissenters to a prevailing view (Raines 1983). The conformists, being untroubled, tend to forget that the infringement of another's rights is not only contrary to their own principles; it is a precedent that may serve later to invite the infringement of their own rights. Freedom of speech, for example, is vital primarily to those who object to, not to those who applaud, a given view; and it is most vital to those who object the most. But since those who applaud now may on a later occasion stand to protest, the democrat insists on protesting at all times the invasion of basic rights. Howell Raines proves that King was involved in non-violence actions because of public opinion identified him with this approach. For him, the exceptional case was not transformed into the typical case; it is democracy's ordeal by fire, the supreme test of a principle's capacity to survive. Howell Raines shows that the problems of racial and ethnic discrimination, of the mistreatment of political nonconformists, and the like have been with us after all, a long time, some since the very beginnings of the Republic. They are the products or manifestations of deep-seated fears and hatreds, of cultivated prejudices and a narrowly conceived self-interest; and these are exacerbated, not weakened, in a time of crisis. They are the heritage, even more, of historical and institutional factors which render some groups, because, e.g., they are the perceived descendants of markedly inferior or hierarchically low ranks in the social orders of the past, peculiarly vulnerable to that prejudice and discrimination (Raines 1983).

Most of all I admire the narration of Rosa L Parks who vividly portrays realities of civil rights movement and its perception by the majority of people. She comments “there had been incidents over the years. One of the things that made this get so much publicity was the fact the police were called in and I was placed under arrest” (Raines 1983, p. 40). Consequently, while it is doubtless true that some of the particular acts of injustice cited here will be corrected, others are more than likely to take their place. It prevents people from using (or abusing) their powers to deprive other men of their basic rights. To the extent that a democratic system makes this possible, to the extent that it exposes its citizens to arbitrary and invidious measures, it is vulnerable--as a system of government-to oppressive rule (Raines 1983).

In sum, the book vividly portray that the American democracy embraces those who exercise power from a focus other than the state, who function in what we normally consider a religious, educational, or economic association. Thus, when a political nonconformist acts in a manner displeasing to the government (or to a political or administrative official of that government), but that action being lawful is beyond the reach of formal punishment, it is often the case that the political authority will seek to secure the punishment of that nonconformist through the disapprobation and corresponding action of social powers.


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