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Elle Stakely

Professor Mauldin

History 218

24 October 2014

Separate But Equal?

If History has taught us anything, it is the fact that it repeats itself. We have seen this theme

numerous times throughout recent centuries. Dictators are a major branch in the Tree of

Repeated History. Napoleon Bonaparte was the Dictator, of sorts, for France in the years of 1804

to 1814. He was very successful at expanding his empire by battling with various European

countries. In the year of 1812, he invaded Russia. This was the start of his 3-year downfall.

Another major dictator rose a few decades more than a century later. Adolf Hitler was the

Dictator for Nazi Germany, mostly called the Third Reich, during World War 2. His reign lasted

from the years of 1933 to 1945, the end of the war and his suicide. He was a successful leader

and could have won the war had he not pulled a Bonaparte and invaded Russia. This lead to the

downfall of the Third Reich and the end of Hitlers project: the Holocaust. These 2 leaders are

very similar: both essentially crowned themselves leaders, both invaded Russia, the invasion lead

to their demise, both had roughly the same length of their reign, and both died in their early to

mid 50s. Dictators are only a fraction of how History repeats itself.

Another branch in the Tree of Repeated History is the term Separate But Equal. This

phrase was, according to Wikipedia, a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law that

justified and permitted racial segregation, as not being in breach of the Fourteenth Amendment
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to the United States Constitution which guaranteed equal protection under the law to all citizens,

and other federal laws. What happened with this phrase was that there was the separation of the

Black Community from the White Community, and this phrase made the mingling of whites and

blacks nearly impossible. Starting with the last few decades of the 1800s, and with the help of

the Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, there was two of everything. In

buildings, there wasnt only a womens bathroom and a mens bathroom, they had: white mens

bathrooms, black mens bathrooms, white womens bathrooms, and black womens bathrooms.

There were 2 fountains: one for blacks and one for whites. There were black restaurants and

there were white restaurants. Basically, there were 2 of everything (4 if the matter of gender was

involved).

A great example of Separate But Equal comes in the form of Prince Georges County.

Michael Fletcher, the author of Progress, but not perfect, writes about the life of Joseph M.

Parker Sr. who lived in Prince George. The first line of the article Fletcher writes sums up the

major themes of the article: Segregation and Migration. Fletcher writes, Joseph M. Parker Sr.

has lived in Prince Georges County all of his life, occupying a world that has always been pretty

much all black- first by law, then by choice. (Fletcher). Separate but Equal made Parker go to

all-black school throughout his life, yet the town was mostly white. When older, Parker taught at

one of the segregated elementary schools. Parker and his wife moved to an apartment building

where, according to Parker, That was the only place in all of P.G. where a black person could

rent an apartment complex. (Fletcher). Parker is now retired and living in a nice rancher, but he

is bitter towards the county. Fletcher states that, The pattern of exclusion Parker experienced in

Prince Georges held for decades, circumscribing his possibilities and those of most African

Americans both in the county and across America. (Fletcher). Prince Georges County had a
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thick, solid wall of discrimination, and this lead to many African Americans to only have jobs

within the Black Community. Many could not further their potential due to the color on their

skin.

President Kennedy was assassinated in the year of 1963. This lead to Lyndon B. Johnson

to become the next president. Johnson had a vision called the Great Society, which lead to

multiple legislations that were enacted. The Great Society vision was full of anti-discrimination

policies and enabled the demise of the wall of discrimination. This progress also was a major

point in the history of Prince Georges County: it turned the county from a mostly white, highly

segregated and semi-rural backwater into the wealthiest majority-black county in the nation over

the course of a single generation (Fletcher). Prince Georges County is in the state of Maryland,

which is a northern state. As the class has read the stories of migration from the North to the

South in the book The Warmth of Other Suns, who is to say that a percentage of the migrators

may have moved to Prince Georges due to the fact that there was still racial discrimination

lingering in the South? Who is to say that a distant cousin of Ida Mae may have moved to Prince

Georges, and the cousin was one of many who made the population of the county increase from

15% to 65% in the 1970s?

What if the phrase Separate but Equal had another meaning? Did the phrase really have

to stop at RACIAL discrimination? Could it even linger in political parties? Yes, it does, and the

discrimination is ongoing even today. In recent years, really the past 2 years, the IRS has been

swarming the news. Why? Well, the IRS could be affiliated with a particular political party, and

it is trying to discriminate against another particular political party. May 2013 is when the

discriminatory actions came to light. The IRS was targeting the Tea Party and other groups in

Conservatives name. This, according to Steve Simpson, the author of The Roots of the IRS
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Scandal, shocked the nation and triggered one of the Obamas administrations biggest scandals

to date (13). The IRS made it nearly impossible for the conservatives to acquire a non-profit

status while making it easy for the liberals. This is a form of discrimination, and the public has

a right to be outraged. Simpson raises a valid point to this scandal, If the government can

enforce laws based on nothing more than ones political views, then both freedom of speech and

the rule of law are dead. (14). He goes even further, But the outrage over the IRSs focus on

conservative groups obscures a far more important question: Why was the IRS investigating the

political activities of any group? (14). He answers the question by saying, The bigger threat

to freedom is a legal regime that requires scrutiny of Americans political activities and a

political and intellectual culture that applauds such scrutiny and openly calls for more of it.

(14). This makes a lot of sense. We see this scrutiny happen everyday in the media. There are

always snark-like remarks towards the Conservatives of America in movie and late night talk

shows. Hollywood has become the machine of liberalistic views. Could Hollywood be the new

and improved Jim Crow? Are Conservatives running on the same discrimination track as the

African Americans only Conservatives just started? Separate but equal.

History is one interesting tree. Everyone has a different viewpoint of when the seed was

planted. Evolutionists say the seed planting happened with the Big Bang, and the Creationists

declare the God-said phrase Let there be light to be the beginning. People must observe the

tree and learn from it. Some people say that the teachings of History to be irrelevant due to the

fact that we are living in the now and should not dwell upon the past. That is a valid point, but if

a group of people has to make a decision, and have no idea how to make one, then they have to

look to a similar problem from the past and learn from the peoples mistakes in them.

Discrimination is an action that should never have been executed. Yes, the South should have
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known better. Wasnt the South just doing something it thought was best and right? Hasnt the

South done what Hitler did during World War 2? Hasnt Hollywood been doing the same thing,

only to Conservatives? Reality is that the phrase Separate but Equal cannot be an excuse to

execute Discrimination, racial or political. The branch is a part of the History Tree, and it is also

apart of the Tree of Repeated History as well. Evidently, Discrimination will find its way back

on center stage. It happens. One must learn from the mistakes in the past so that way this time it

wont stay on the stage as long as it has.


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Works Cited:

Fletcher, Michael A. Progress, but Not Perfect. The Washington Post May 19 2014. ProQuest.
Web. 24 Oct. 2014.

Simpson, Steve. The Roots of the IRS Scandal. The Objective Standard 2013: 13. General
OneFile. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.