Immigration by African Americans
**Be sure to look up the definitions of any words for which you do not know the meaning before responding to the questions below.
Carefully examine the photographs. The first photograph was taken at a peaceful socialist protest march in Boston during World War I (1918).
In the photo, American soldiers and sailors are ripping apart an American flag that was being carried by socialist peace protesters marching in Boston. Many of these marchers were immigrants from Eastern European countries. Think about why these members of the Armed Forces would believe that these particular marchers should not carry this flag. Why do you think they believed that destroying the flag that they confiscated from these particular marchers was an appropriate action of which they should be proud?
The second set of photographs was taken during a peaceful protest in Jackson, Mississippi in 1965.
In the photograph, a policeman confiscates a black child’s American flag after already having taken away the boy’s sign which said “No More Police Violence.” The sign also demanded the right to vote for blacks in Mississippi.
Think about what the American flag has meant to people throughout history. What might it have meant to white Americans who were not recent immigrants? What might it have meant for whites who were recent immigrants. What might it have meant to African Americans in the South?
Respond to the following questions:
- Why were these two marginalized groups (immigrants and African Americans) flying the American flag when they were protesting something happening in America?
- Why would members of the military believe they were right to destroy an American flag? Do you think their superior officers would have supported their actions? Why or why not?
- Why would the policeman be angry that the child is carrying an American flag? And, why would this small child fight so hard to keep the flag?
- It can be argued that the American flag symbolized the same thing to each group in the photographs (military / immigrant socialist protesters / police / black civil rights protesters). Explain why the unique nature of American society makes it possible for disparate groups to believe the flag supports their very different agendas? (Think about the concept of Pluralism discussed in module 1 to help you respond to this question).