Whites Thought Of Blacks As Being


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whites thought of blacks as being capital punishment

In the following pages, I will discuss the history, debate, past and current public opinion, and how it applies to American ideology and opposing values.  Both sides have a fair amount of support and I have included direct quotes and paraphrasing from authors, celebrities, journalists, and ordinary people arguing both sides.  

The history of the death penalty goes back to the earliest civilizations where it was used to punish all sorts of crimes from robbery, to murder, to different forms of heresy.  In the United States it evolved to just punish murder, treason, and some cases of rape.  It has been an issue that has sparked a never ending debate that goes back to colonial times.  The general public traditionally supported the death penalty in a majority with only a few politicians speaking out against it (i.e., Benjamin Rush, Ben Franklin and later on Horace Greeley).  Once the U.S. gained independence, each state went back and forth in abolishing and reinstating the death penalty and methods of execution.  
The 1960s saw many trials concerning capital punishment cases that led to a ten year halt in executions.  In 1965, the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) announcement of their anti-death penalty stance was a sign of things to come.  It was particularly important because the ACLU had always neglected to have an opinion on the issue because they believed it was not a civil rights issue.  They now determined that capital punishment was inconsistent with underlying values of a democratic system.  They explained that it discriminated against blacks and other minorities and did not comply with the eighth amendment of the constitution, in other words, it was cruel and unusual punishment (Vila, Morris:127).  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples Legal Defense Fund (NAACP-LDF) also began to speak out in the mid-sixties.  They agreed that the death penalty discriminated against blacks and launched a campaign against the death penalty around the same time.  The LDF poured its resources into aiding death row prisoners which tied up the capital punishment cases for years allowing them to achieve their goal of a moratorium on the death penalty (Vila, Morris:131).  From 1967 to 1977, there were no executions anywhere in the United States because of groups like these that rallied to oppose it, the particularly low public support of it, and a number of supreme court cases that decided in the favor of the abolitionist movement.
One crucial case was Witherspoon v. Illinois in 1968.  The supreme court ruled that prospective jurors who oppose the death penalty can not automatically be excluded from juries in possible capital punishment cases.  The court said that having jurors that oppose the death penalty is part of a fair, impartial jury as dictated by the Sixth Amendment.  Some dissenters claimed that people who were ethically opposed to the death penalty were biased because they would never vote to give the death penalty to people who deserved it.  Some historians say that this marked the first time that the supreme court was persuaded by public opinion against capital punishment.  The following statement was made by Justice Potter Stewart who spoke for the majority, In a nation less than half of whose people believe in the death penalty, a jury composed exclusively of such people cannot speak for the communityIn its quest for a jury capable of imposing the death penalty, the State produced a jury uncommonly willing to condemn a man to die (Gottfried:60).  Scholars and lawyers also thought this would be the end of capital punishment for good because the courts willingness to accept people who fundamentally opposed the death penalty, but this turned out not to be true because of details in the decision that allowed courts and legislatures to work around it.
The 1972 case of Furman v Georgia was seen as a complete victory for abolitionists at the time, but proved to be more complicated than it appeared.  It said that the death penalty, as it was administered, violated the Eighth Amendments because it was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it did not guarantee equal protection under the law (Costanzo:18).   The crucial part of this statement was ..as it was ... more

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Jesse Jackson

Up with Hope: A biography of Jesse Jackson Dillon Press, 1986 This book is
about a virtuous leader, Jesse Jackson. It explains how he grew up in a hard
time for blacks and how he was committed to being somebody. When Jesse was a
little boy his grandmother urged him saying, Jesse, promise me youll be
somebody. The Reverend Jesse Jackson understood the power of hope. Jesses
childhood was tough for him. His mother and father werent married when she
had Jesse and the communitys disapproval was felt. Another reason for the
tough times in Jesses growing up was the discrimination against blacks. The
tough times never got in Jesses way; he was destined to be somebody. Jesse
had several jobs while he was growing up, to keep him off of the streets,
earning extra money for the clothing he liked to wear. His first job was at the
age of six, he worked in the wood and coal yards owned by his grandfather. He
also was very active in his schooling, always trying to better himself and learn
new things. When he was twelve years old he joined the reading club at the
County Library for the Colored, where Jesse found books to satisfy his curiosity
and his love for words. Jesse was also involved with sports and other
activities. When he was in high school he was always running for all the class
offices and any leadership position, because of his smarts and ways with the
crowd he was usually the one to win the positions. Jesse graduated tenth in his
class and went off to college to the University of Illinois on an athletic
scholarship. He was offered six thousand dollars a year to join the New York
Giants, but he felt that he should better his education. When Jesse got to
Illinois he found that segregation was as bad there as in the south. He was only
allowed to play certain positions because of his race, he wanted to play
quarterback but that was only for the whites. By the end of his freshmen year he
transferred to another school, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State
College (A&T), a small all-black school. Jesse was quick to join the action
around his new school. While Jesse attended college at North Carolina A&T,
he joined many clubs and began to act in the civil rights movement. After Jesse
Jackson graduated from college he did political work in North Carolina. He spent
several weeks with Noah, Junior, his fathers son, while brooding about his
future. He was trying to decide whether he should become a minister just like
his grandfather or if he should further his education. He later decided to study
to become a minister. While Jesse was studying to become a minister he led
several of civil rights movements and spoke with many people. He worked with Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. on several operations. After Dr. King was assassinated
he formed his own organization helping out African-Americans. Analysis This book
shows a good example of leadership. Jesse Jackson was always trying to better
himself and become somebody. He always did what he thought was right trying to
help out others. If you believe in something it can be done. Jesse Jackson
wanted to be somebody and that was just what he did, he became somebody. He
fought for what was right and did a lot for the black communities. In a way you
could Jesse Jackson is a hero. He did a lot in helping the civil rights movement
and making things better for African-Americans. Many people admire the things he
has accomplished.


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