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STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

Today, we tell about the movement for civil rights for black Americans.


The day is August twenty-eighth, nineteen sixty-three. More than two hundred fifty thousand people are gathered in Washington. Black and white, young and old, they demand equal treatment for black Americans. The nation's most famous civil rights leader, the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior, is speaking. MARTIN LUTHER KING: "I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of our nation."

Early in its history, black Africans were brought to America as slaves. They were bought and sold, like animals. By the time of America's Civil War in the eighteen sixties, many had been freed by their owners. Many, however, still worked as slaves on the plantations, or large farms, of the South. By the end of the war, slavery had been declared unconstitutional. But that was only the first step in the struggle for equality.

Most people of color could not get good jobs. They could not get good housing. They had far less chance of a good education than white Americans. For about one hundred years, blacks made slow gains. Widespread activism for civil rights did not really begin until after World War Two. During the war, black Americans earned respect as members of the armed forces. When they came home, many demanded that their civil rights be respected, too. An organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, led the way.

In nineteen fifty-one, the organization sent its lawyers to help a man in the city of Topeka, Kansas. The man, Oliver Brown, and twelve others had brought legal action against the city. They wanted to end racial separation in their children's schools. That policy was known as segregation.

At that time, two of every five public schools in America had all white students or all black students. The law said all public schools must be equal, but they were not. Schools for white children were almost always better than schools for black children. The situation was worst in Southern states.

The case against the city of Topeka -- Brown versus the Board of Education -- was finally settled by the nation's highest court. In nineteen fifty-four, the Supreme Court ruled that separate schools for black children were not equal to schools for white children. The next year, it said public schools must accept children of all races as quickly as possible.
布朗诉托皮卡市教育委员会这一案件最终被送往美国联邦最高法院审理。1954年,美国最高法院裁决,黑人儿童就读的隔离学校与白人儿童就读的学校确实存在着不平等待遇。 第二年,法院要求公立学校必须尽快落实招收所有种族的儿童入学。

In September nineteen fifty-seven, a black girl attempted to enter an all-white school in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. An angry crowd shouted at her. State guards blocked her way. The guards had been sent by the state governor, Orville Faubus. After three weeks, a federal court ordered Governor Faubus to remove the guards. The girl, Elizabeth Eckford, and other black students were able to enter the school. After one day, however, riots forced the black students to leave.

President Dwight Eisenhower ordered federal troops to Little Rock. They helped black students get into the white school safely. However, angry white citizens closed all the city's public schools. The schools stayed closed for two years.

In nineteen sixty-two, a black student named James Meredith sought to attend the University of Mississippi. School officials refused. John Kennedy, the president at that time, sent federal law officers to help him. James Meredith became the first black person to graduate from the University of Mississippi.

In addition to fighting for equal treatment in education, black Americans fought for equal treatment in housing and transportation.

In many cities of the South, blacks were forced to sit in the back of buses. In nineteen fifty-five, a black woman named Rosa Parks got on a bus in the city of Montgomery, Alabama. She sat in the back. The bus became crowded. There were no more seats for white people. So, the bus driver ordered Missus Parks to stand and give her seat to a white person. She refused. Her feet were tired after a long day at work. Rosa Parks was arrested.
当时在美国南部许多城市,黑人只能坐在公交车车厢的最后面。1955年,一位名叫罗莎.帕克斯的黑人妇女在阿拉巴马州蒙哥马利市坐公交车。当时她坐在最后一排。 然而,公交车上的人越来越多,最后有些白人没地方坐了。于是,公交车司机让帕克斯站起来,把座位让给白人。帕克斯不同意。一整天的辛苦工作之后,她的脚很疼。罗莎.帕克斯因此被警察逮捕了。

MARTIN LUTHER KING: "For a number of years, Negro passengers on the city bus lines of Montgomery have been humiliated, intimidated, and faced threats on this bus line."

The Reverend Martin Luther King organized the black citizens of Montgomery. They were the major users of the bus system. They decided to stop using the buses.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: "At present, we are in the midst of a protest, the black citizens of Montgomery, representing some 44 percent of the population. Ninety percent, at least, of the regular Negro bus passengers are staying off the buses, and we plan to continue until something is done."

马丁.路德.金号召蒙哥马利市的黑人公民团结起来,他们决定拒乘公交车,而这些黑人公民是这个城市公交系统的主要乘客。马丁.路德.金说:“多年来,黑人乘客在蒙哥马利市的公交车上受尽了屈辱和恐吓,面临诸多威胁。眼下,我们正在抗议,蒙哥马利市黑人公民占整个城市人口的44%,90%使用公交系统的黑人市民目前都拒乘公交车。 我们将坚持抵制公交车,直到得到一个合理的交代。

The boycott lasted a little more than a year. It seriously affected the earnings of the bus company. In the end, racial separation on the buses in Montgomery was declared illegal. Rosa Parks' tired feet had helped win black Americans another victory in their struggle for equal rights. And, the victory had been won without violence.
抵制公交系统的活动持续了一年多,让公交车公司的收入锐减。 最后,蒙哥马利市宣布公交车上的种族隔离是违法的。罗莎.帕克斯疲倦的双脚帮助美国黑人在争取平等权利的事业中再下一城。更重要的是,这次胜利完全没有发生暴力行动。

The Reverend King was following the teachings of former Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi urged his followers to reach their political goals without violence. One of the major tools of non-violence in the civil rights struggle in America was the "sit-in". In a sit-in, protesters entered a store or public eating place. They quietly asked to be served. Sometimes, they were arrested. Sometimes, they remained until the business closed. But they were not served. Some went hours without food or water.

(MUSIC: "Buses Are A-Coming")

Another kind of protest was the "freedom ride." This involved buses that traveled through states from the North to the South. On freedom rides, blacks and whites sat together to make it difficult for officials to enforce racial separation laws on the buses.

Many freedom rides -- and much violence -- took place in the summer of nineteen sixty-four. Sometimes, the freedom riders were arrested. Sometimes, angry crowds of whites beat the freedom riders.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of the civil rights movement was the campaign to win voting rights for black Americans. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution said a citizen could not be denied the right to vote because of race or color. Several Southern states, however, passed laws to try to deny voting rights to blacks for other reasons.

Martin Luther King and his supporters demanded new legislation to guarantee the right to vote. They held protests in the state of Alabama. In the city of Birmingham, the chief law officer ordered his men to fight the protesters with high-pressure water hoses and fierce dogs.
马丁.路德.金和他的支持者们要求美国政府颁布新的立法,确保黑人的选举权。 他们在阿拉巴马州举行抗议活动。伯明翰市警长下令使用高压水枪和凶猛的警犬来镇压当地的抗议者。

People throughout the country watched the demonstration on television. The sight of children being beaten by policemen and bitten by dogs awakened many citizens to the civil rights struggle. Federal negotiators reached a compromise. The compromise was, in fact, a victory for the protesters. They promised to stop their demonstrations. In exchange, they would be permitted to vote.
全美国的人都在电视上关注这次示威游行。 儿童被警察殴打,被警犬撕咬的一些面画让很多美国公民都从中觉醒,并加入到民权运动的队伍中。联邦政府的谈判代表做出了妥协。这个妥协实际上就是抗议者的胜利。根据妥协方案,抗议者们答应停止游行, 但交换条件是给予他们选举权。

(MUSIC: "The Freedom Train Is Coming")

President Lyndon Johnson signed a major civil rights bill in nineteen sixty-four. Yet violence continued in some places. Three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. One was murdered in Alabama.

Martin Luther King kept working toward the goal of equal rights. On April fourth nineteen sixty-eight, he died working toward that goal.

King was shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. He had gone there to support a strike by waste collection workers.

WALTER CRONKITE: "Doctor King was standing on the balcony of his second floor hotel room tonight when, according to a companion, a shot was fired from across the street. In the friend's words, the bullet exploded in his face."

CBS newsman Walter Cronkite.

WALTER CRONKITE: "The police, who have been keeping a close watch over the Nobel Peace Prize winner because of Memphis' turbulent racial situation, were on the scene almost immediately. They rushed the thirty-nine year old Negro leader to a hospital, where he died of a bullet wound in the neck."

A white man, James Earl Ray, was tried and found guilty of the crime.
一名名为詹姆斯·厄尔· 雷的白人被逮捕并被判有罪。

A wave of unrest followed the murder of Martin Luther King. Blacks in more than one hundred cities in America rioted. In some cities, areas affected by the riots were not rebuilt for many years. The movement for civil rights for black Americans continued. But it became increasingly violent. The struggle produced angry, bitter memories. Yet it also produced some of the greatest words spoken in American history.

MARTIN LUTHER KING: "When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children -- black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!'"
马丁.路德.金说:“当我们让自由之声响起,让自由之声在每一个大大小小的村庄、每一个州、每一个市都响起来的时候, 我们就能加速那一天的到来─所有的上帝之子,无论黑人还是白人,无论犹太人还是异教徒,无论新教徒还是天主教徒, 都能手拉手一起歌唱着古老的黑人灵歌:我们自由啦!我们自由啦!感谢万能的上帝,我们终于自由啦!”

Nest week, we continue the story of the United States in the nineteen sixties.

标签:voa special
2012-05-07 21:24 编辑:pliny
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