During the twentieth century, both the Civil Rights and the Women’s Rights movements had a comparable ambition in mind. They both wanted to gain the rights and opportunities that others had. In this research paper my goal is to compare and contrast both movements and how they went about chasing each of their goals, and at the same time express some of my viewpoints.
The Black Civil Rights was a movement that began right when “Reconstruction” ended in the late 1870’s which granted all Americans to equal treatment under the law, as provided by the Fourteenth Amendment (Sidlow & Henschen, 99) I will be discussing certain examples that marked this movement significantly. For example, in the landmark of Plessey vs. Ferguson decision in 1896, the Supreme Court upheld the racist policy of segregation by legalizing “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites (Sidlow & Henschen, 101).
The court then sentenced blacks to more than half a century of social inequality. Along with this certain act, came many more prominent movements that shaped the world today. The Selma to Montgomery March, for example, was a movement that both MLK Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership (SCLC) helped organized after the renowned Rosa Parks refused to move to the “colored section”. After being arrested and fined, many African Americans were spurred and began to organize a nine-year boycott (Sidlow & Henschen, 103).
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Through years of struggle the government proved unable to secure civil rights for Black people, and so activists started to take matters into their own hands in the early 1960s. The Black Civil Rights Movement initially fueled the Liberal Feminism Movement or also known as the Women’s Liberation. This movement refers to a series of campaigns promoting gender equality and at the same time, opposing the perpetuation of gender discrimination in all economic, political, legal and social structures.
In 1966 the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded by liberal feminists based on the NAACP with the aim of bringing civil rights to women where the legislation wasn’t being honored ( Sidlow & Henschen, 107). Furthermore, in 1969 the media caught on to the movement and brought a wider audience into it that in turn created more momentum to get their goals met alongside the goals of blacks. The movement, fueled by these successes, renewed a push for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution (Sidlow & Henschen, 107).
The amendment was then adopted in 1972 and states began adopting it, but adoption abruptly halted two years down the road and ultimately failed. The work of the Liberal Feminism Movement started to merge with the work of the Civil Rights Movement, as both were movements seeking similar rights for their respective minority groups. Blacks were largely the group violently pushed back against, and the group for which Affirmative Action was initially formed, but both movements were met with similar opposition as they played out at the same time.
These movements both had a goal as extensive as racial equality since gender equality with skin of the same color felt like a task of the same size to the feminists and although the Civil Rights Movement accomplished this goal in manageable steps, the ultimate goal was equality with whites and equality with all women. The Feminism Movement used many of the same strategies and methods as the Civil Rights Movement, Nonviolence, for example, was known to be the best tactic at the time (Sidlow & Henschen, 103). Although anger would have been detrimental, nonviolence was still the tool of choice.
For the Liberal Feminism Movement there was some room for angered nonviolence, but to be on par with the Civil Rights Movement they used nonviolence like the tool of the minority as well. Both the women of the Liberal Feminism Movement and blacks were minorities, but blacks were by far considered a definite minority due to skin color. Feminist fall into the majority white population and are therefore protected to some extent from undue harm by authorities. In conclusion, The Black Civil Rights were fighting with people not of color, while the Feminist movement was fighting against men.
They both used nonviolence methods to best achieve their goals and were ultimately willing to do anything possible to reach them. Sex and race have both been an issue for many years and both are still factors in the political spectrum now a days that determine what “side” you belong to. Cases like, Plessey vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education, and Rosa Parks, are all examples that these two movements brought about, both aiming for the same thing. As well as school integration, busing, abortion, and wage discrimination were all issues that they had to fight through for so long, to ultimately get what they wanted which was equality.
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