Welcome to Microcosms 82! On this date in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the US constitution was ratified, finally granting citizenship and all its privileges to African Americans. For those of you not in the US, you may or may not be aware of the long, storied history of the battle for civil rights in this country, which many consider to still be ongoing.
Here’s what history.com has to say:
Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”
In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
In some ways, I feel conflicted about using this topic for a prompt, as I hate the idea of “using” someone’s tragedy. But I think there are many compelling stories waiting to be told.
I drew inspiration for this week’s prompts from the battle for civil rights in this country, from slavery to freedom to the civil rights movement in the 1960s to some modern day events. The history is fascinating and, at times, incredibly sad and disturbing. You can read more about it here, if you are interested. I also wanted to include other elements that celebrate a few of the cultural contributions of black and African American heritage in this country. Obviously, not everything can be covered in one post, but I didn’t want everything to be sad.
Please don’t feel obligated to limit yourselves to any one topic or theme. If you want to include civil rights, go for it. If you’d rather write about aliens, have at it.
There is an optional photo prompt. The park in Birmingham, Alabama is filled with remembrances of the Civil Rights Movement. This particular statue represents the police dogs that were used to attack unarmed citizens. Walking through this sculpture was very surreal and chilling; it left a lasting impact on me. You can read more about what happened there here.
(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact us.)
Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.
We spun, and our three elements are – character: Assassin, setting: On a Stage, and genre: Drama.
Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.
*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***
*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***
- Slave Owner
- Blues or Jazz Singer/Musician
- Freedom Fighter
- Bus Driver
- Police Officer
- Southern US
- City Street
- Night Club
- During a March/Protest
- On a Bus
- On a Stage
- Your Choice!
- In a Theatre
- Steam Punk
The judge this week is TBD.
All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EDT) to submit.
*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***
All being well, results will be posted on Monday.