“Eyes on the Prize” by Bagwell

Table of Contents


African-Americans began fighting for racial equality from early years of the 19th century when the United States banned the slave trade in 1808. Victims of social exclusion in public development encountered significant challenges that needed public address. Eyes on the Prize provides vital information on how the black community fought against racial segregation during the mid-20th century. Chapter five of the book (Down Freedom’s Main Line) highlights that affected communities changed tactics and strategies of addressing social injustices from violent to non-violent approaches. Nevertheless, this discussion concerns and analyzes the fight against racial segregation between 1950 and 1960, as provided in the book. The involvement of experienced activists, young intellectuals, and social institutions with liberal interests and objectives promoted African-Americans’ efforts to end racial segregation, as illustrated in Chapter Five.

Main body

Fighting social injustice against the majority community involves varying techniques and tactics. For instance, victims affected by regressive public policies begin with diplomatic demonstrations that end either peacefully or violently with casualties. Affected individuals can also react angrily by confronting their enemies or opponents physically. The same people can strategically adopt non-violent acts of addressing dissatisfaction. In Chapter Five of Eyes on the Prize, African-Americans adopted non-violent techniques for airing their social grievances to both local and federal authorities. For instance, the Montgomery bus boycott was a peaceful act intended to communicate the social suffering of minority communities. The injustice encountered by African-Americans had passed down through many generations since slavery periods. This highlights that grievances of social exclusion had affected the black community for many years. From a critical perspective, racial segregation victims acted with dignity adopting peaceful strategies when their rivals had violently engaged them physically and emotionally.

Racial inequality had reached severe levels attributed to injustices against humanity. The book notes that African-Americans were the main victims of social segregation. Accused members of socially privileged communities acted with impunity when punishing individuals of the black race. Previous chapters of Eyes on the Prize indicate immense suffering of socially excluded communities and their descendants. Consequently, it would have been logical if black victims took similar measures to avenge all public authorities’ injustices. The strategy of non-violence adopted by liberal African-Americans was tactical but failed to convince radical and conservative activists. For instance, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for peaceful protests against the vice without looting or burning properties, as evidenced in 1965. However, Chapter Five of the book notes that Malcolm X disliked the gentle approach and urged African-Americans to take aggressive revenge measures against social exclusion in public development.

Implementing non-violent strategies against the vice required active collaboration, coordination, and cooperative involvement of all community members. The book highlights that many African-Americans were denied access to public services, including healthcare, reasonable shelter, and quality food. Most importantly, chapter five of this book noted the existence of social inequality in schools, as evidenced by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling of 1954. The Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled that racial segregation was unconstitutional and denied minority populations’ access to education. This means that most African-Americans were intellectually limited to come up with strategic measures against unequal treatment. The landmark ruling against racial segregation in public education provided black minorities with a rare opportunity of acquiring knowledge in colleges and universities. This implied a change in strategy and tactic entailing non-violence against oppressive leadership and governance. The rise of intellectual elites and advanced strategy formulation is attributed to the limited access provided to black minorities.

Non-violence against social exclusion of minorities in the U.S. involved both intellectual elites and the establishment of civil rights movements. The chapter in discussion highlights that educated African-Americans engaged in public education were entailing peaceful measures for combating racial discrimination in the U.S. For instance, James Lawson was instrumental in educating college students in different state colleges on non-violence approaches to achieving equal civil rights during the 1960s. This indicates that intellectuals ensured that all victims of social inequality understood the practice from a common perspective. Pamphlets and leaflets for communicating details of peaceful protests became effective and popular among college students. Intellectual elites were encouraged to pass the message across to involve many protestors. Other educated individuals, such as professors and religious leaders, also constituted part of intellectuals who strategized non-violence practices of agitating for equal social rights. However, this strategy was ineffective in attracting many black minorities as uneducated community members forgot the basic principles of peaceful protests.

Bringing community members of minority populations requires collective efforts of both individuals and institutions. In this case, educated African-Americans ensured the accurate implementation of non-violent protest practices against racial inequality. Additionally, social institutions, such as religion and civic movement groups, complemented implementation efforts. The book highlights that oppressed minority communities sought spiritual comfort in religion. For instance, many black Americans congregated in Churches and Mosques where vital communication and information was shared. Similarly, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) played a collective role in mobilizing African-Americans against social vices. Civil rights groups also contributed to social inclusion in public development by advocating for equal recognition in law. Institutionalizing a social fight was defective as old black Americans were limited in participating collectively as their grievances were centrally communicated. Leaders of civil rights groups would issue public statements as a unit or social entity.

The involvement of college students was vital for fighting racial segregation in the U.S. during the 1950s. Colleges and universities that admitted black students provided a conducive environment of forming social organizations. This was academically effective in bringing up future public leaders. African-Americans took this advantage and formed social movement groups that contributed to non-violence fight against oppressive leadership. It is critical to note that most students in higher learning institutions were teenagers and young adults. These demographics are attributed to high energy levels resulting in violence, as evidenced in university and college strikes. As a result, implementing peaceful means of protesting using student movement groups could fail the strategies adopted entailing non-violent activities.


In conclusion, Chapter Five of Eyes on the Prize informs the essence of peaceful public protests against racial segregation in the U.S. Transforming strategies from violent to non-violent contribution towards equality required black intellectual elites and civil rights groups. Limited access to education allowed African-Americans to acquire adequate knowledge for advancing their agitation of equal recognition. Educated community members were vital in efficient communication of peaceful protests that involved both political and religious leaders. The book also highlights the significance of social movement groups in fighting racial segregation in the U.S. It is objective to note that the transformation period of strategy formulation against the vice resulted in a divided African-Americans community.


Williams, J., & Bond, J. (2013). Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965 (25th Anniversary ed.). Penguin Books.

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