Challenging the Master Narrative
The civil rights movement is one of the most important events in American history and encompasses many years of cruel mistreatment and racism into a single motion. Yet it is also one of the most misunderstood, often being summarized into a couple of major events without examining the moments that lead up to them. This is known as the master narrative, where large portions of history are often summarized into some more important events and the deep complexity surrounding them is often not explored. Although we cannot be expected to know every detail about every event, it is still important to challenge the master narrative, in fact, we should be ethically obligated to challenge this narrative. By simplifying all of this history into a couple of major events we are ignoring the pain, suffering, and mistreatment that these people went through to achieve these goals. America's racist views didn't simply change because Rosa Parks sat on a bus or because Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech, it took many many years to create change, and as some would argue that this movement is still in effect today. The master narrative can provide a basic starting block to gaze into the past but it should not be the final block in its educational purpose. We have to realize that there is much more complexity to the past and to everything than just one or two events. Once we see this we can take the master narrative and use it in a productive way rather than using it as a way to alter and condense years of complex history into a couple of sentences.