African Americans have had to face an uphill task in the American society to achieve equal status which I am afraid is still a dream. But they have come a long way since the days of slavery and their current status in American society can be best illustrated with a brief overview of historical changes.Slavery of the first and most painful prejudice that African Americans had to face when they came or were forced to come to the United States. Slavery was inconsistent with the ideals incorporated in the Constitution and yet it was allowed by the founding fathers because they wanted to preserve the Union at all costs. Slavery was an abominable practice, which should have been abolished immediately after the formation of United States Constitution because it clashed with the ideals of freedom and liberty for all. However while North had some reasons to oppose it, South had numerous others to maintain this oppressive institution and in 1856, they asserted, "we are entitled to demand the opening of this trade from an industrial, political, and constitutional consideration. . . . With cheap negroes we could set the hostile legislation of Congress at defiance."Fortunately for millions of slaves in the country, emancipation came at an important time. Civil war of 1860s brought an end to the ugly institution of slavery and it was felt that blacks would finally be treated as equals. Unfortunately that did not turn out to be the case. Racism, wide-spread discrimination, white supremacy, inequality, lack of civil rights and poverty- all combined to create a highly prejudiced society where blacks were still barred from participating in elections, they were almost always sidelined in the job market, access to quality and equal education was obstructed along with numerous other subtle and obvious displays of discriminatory practices.
Finally in 1960s, African Americans did something meaningful to effectively curtail discrimination and get civil rights- they launched the civil rights movement which later made monumental advances in the United States during the 1960s under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The bus boycott played a significant role in the Civil rights Movement as Roberta Wright wrote, "It helped to launch a 10-year national struggle for freedom and justice, the Civil Rights Movement that stimulated others to do the same at home and abroad."
It was quite surprising that even one century after the official abolition of slavery, black people were not allowed to vote. When in 1950s, new job opportunities emerged and the employment rate increased dramatically, black community was again hit with ugly realization that they were not being treated equally, and they came to the conclusion that Civil rights policies in the past had failed to give them equal opportunities and thus Kennedy administration was forced to pass the civil rights bill in 1963 that paved the way for Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was a major victory for the black community as this law finally gave them most of the civil rights that they had demanded. Chicago strike played an important role in this connection. (Graham, pp. 334-335).
Civil rights movement did grant blacks many rights they had been hitherto denied but it did not help them attain complete freedom from racial discrimination. It is found that discrimination and prejudices still plague the American society where blacks are regularly subjected to unfair treatment. African Americans are more likely to be caught by police and sent to prison compared to their white