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Apartheid in South Africa Segregation in America and Remembering Rosa Louise Parks

Updated on June 23, 2014

South African Politicians and Early Segregation Laws

Segregation in South Africa existed until the National Party Government changed the meaning of segregation to Apartheid in 1948. Under apartheid in South Africa, there was undeniably suffering,

Prime Minister Daniel Francois Malan ruled from June 1948 until November 1954 and come into power and began the comprehensive implementation of the segregation policy. Johannes Strijdom during his rule from November 1954 until August 1958 tried to abolish ties with the United Kingdom and removed colored voters from the voters roll and involved with the treason tried of 156 activists including Nelson Mandela. Strijdom was also responsible for severing ties with the Soviet Union.

Hendrik Verwoerd was elected prime minister in September 1958 and assassinated in September 1966. During his rule, he launched the Bantustan program and allocated homelands to the different ethnic tribes in South Africa. He achieved turning South Africa into a republic after several conflicting issues. Verwoerd was a staunch believer of not integrating different ethnic groups and this caused an arms embargo to be placed against the country. He eventually saw the difficulties segregation caused and started to negotiate with homeland leaders on the basis of not interering with internal policies.

Verwoerd often referred to, as the architect of apartheid did not implement this act, Cecil James John Rhodes constructed the first segregation laws. Verwoerd as leader of the country followed his previous leaders’ actions and created more division than unity. It was undeniably a difficult act to continue and by separating ethnic groups in different homelands was based on each culture traditions to be lived and followed without hindrance.

Apartheid and Terrorist Groups

Hence, apartheid continued until the terrorist groups gained international recognition for their stories of suffering and human rights abuses. With this escalation of terror, the world imposed sanctions; the National Party government had a problem, and there were far too many different ethnic groups to accommodate in an orderly fashion. The terrorist groups and the loudest and noisiest one The African National Congress (ANC) had secured financial and military help from communist countries.

In South Africa, and particular on the borders of the neighboring countries, where rebels had overturned many white ruled governments, it was a constant war for the South African Government to secure the borders. The army at that time consisted mainly of white soldiers who fought for months at a time defending the borders and many losing their lives during the battle.

Meanwhile, in the cities and rural areas, the ANC together with other terrorist groups’ intended mass action to overthrow the government. Their main target was to kill innocent people and attack weak or unguarded places, such as shopping centers, schools and game parks. The impact of the constant bombings in and around South Africa caused panic. The government had a strong army but so did the ANC have merciless missionaries who were willing to die for the sake of their leaders.

After years of negotiations, with the top political parties and the leaders of the ANC and other terrorist groups, it was decided to hand over the country to the majority of the people. Handing over the country to the ANC, at a price not even the far right radicals would have envisaged. 1994 South Africa was declared a democratic country. After twenty years, South Africa is heading toward a socialist country where apartheid might not exist but isolation and annihilation of white people is the fixture of the day.

Apartheid is no Fairy-tale

The spiraling decline of the country is not a fairy-tale story, but a reality that can only cause more havoc than before 1994. While many white people have left the country, those remaining behind are fighting an embittered battle for survival. The majority of the farm owned land is in the hands of white people, who have farmed for hundreds of years and are the top producing suppliers of food for the country. Farms allocated to black enthusiastic farmers today lay dormant and useless. Land that remains barren and might never be utilized again!

While the ANC have a policy to enrich the lives of the majority of blacks within the country, at the same time their tactics used are cruel, more so than under the apartheid years. Untold stories of suffering do not escape the world. Ignoring the horrors is the biggest problem.

Under segregation, life was different to that of apartheid. In America, the separation took its toll on the black people and the poor white people as well, often they were not allowed to vote. Many heroic people fought for equal rights and achieved the impossible but not with the tragic outcome of ending apartheid.

Rosa Parks and American Segregation

A brave American activist, Rosa Louis Parks was born in February 1913 and died in October 2005. Parks known as an African American Civil Rights Activist and was referred to as the mother of the freedom movement. She was of African ancestry although one of her great grandfathers was from Scots-Ireland. One of her great grandmothers was from a Native American decent.

In America her birthday and the day she was arrested December 1, are commemorated as Rosa Parks Day.

In the early 20th century, the Confederate states passed a new constitution and electoral law that disfranchised black voters and in Alabama, poor white voters were not allowed to vote. Under the white established Jim Crow Laws passed by the Democrats after, they gained control. Racial segregation was imposed in public facilities and retail stores in the South and this included public transportation.

Bus and train companies enforced seating policies with separate sections for blacks and whites. The worst for Parks was the school buses that would collect white children only and force the black children to walk to their schools.

In December 1955, Parks refused to obey a bus driver by giving up her seat in the colored section to a white person. The white part of the bus was full and thus she was ordered to give up her seat. It is known that Parks was not the first person to resist segregation on buses.

In violating Alabama segregation laws, followers of Parks believed she was the best candidate to meet the court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience. It was her act of defiance that marked the symbol of the civil rights movement. Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

Parks collaborated with civil rights leaders Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr., who was a new minister at that time. King eventually gained national prominence in the civil rights movement.

Parks worked as a security for The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Parks was honored for her tireless work but suffered for her acts and was fired from her job as a seamstress.

Moving to Detroit, she found similar work and continued as secretary to John Conyers, an African American U.S. Representative. Parks wrote her autobiography after retirement and in her final years suffered from dementia.

Parks received national recognition for her efforts and work. After her death, Parks was the first woman and second non-U.S. Government official to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

As a young women Parks realized, there was a white world and a black world. Parks in her autobiography encountered many instances of the kindness shown by white people.

It was the KuKlux Klan that marched down their street, and she recalls her grandfather guarding their front door with a shotgun that made her realize there was racism in her society. The school she attended was burnt down twice, and the white community planned the arson.

In Conclusion

While racism is still practiced in many countries and isolation of different ethnic groups is a constant problem, South Africa experiences the worst possible onslaught. The racial hatred, tense atmosphere and murder of whites are by far the worst form of crime. Perhaps the insurmountable corruption from the launch of democracy has caused more problems than anticipated. The apartheid in South Africa and the segregation of races in America have been dismantled by people such as Rosa Louise Parks who courageously braved the obstacles.

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