Historical process: Civil Rights
The Second World War saw an inclusive nation go out to fight, but the returnees sought to place everyone at the level that they had been before the war. The war brought the best out of women as they were involved in various companies that were manufacturing artillery for the war. They would take many shifts in a day to ensure that the forces had the required weapons on the war front. In the case of the African Americans, they came back to being placated at the bottom, just as it was before the war (Schaller). The Jim Crow laws made it hard for the destruction of the divisive nature of the coexistence between the races. In the same way, the pearl harbor attack had changed the situation for the Japanese who had to regain the trust they once had, as the house of representatives rewarded the Chinese for being loyal and eased their entry into the country. In the years that followed, various changes took place in regard to equity, discrimination at work, recognition of the rights of the various groups some of which were termed as abnormal or mentally ill such as the LGBT community, as well as, the rise of a newer wave of feminism towards the end of the 1960s, and into the 1970s to the present (Schaller). The events after the Second World War shaped the outlook of the nation of America in major social issues.
The years immediately before and after the war were the biggest for the black community as they joined up to topple the segregationist laws leading to better laws being made by President Lyndon Johnson. After the civil war, the country had entered a phase of reconstruction. In this
phase, the blacks were totally involved whereby some of them took various public offices. The white community in the south was not comfortable being equal to people that they had prior enslaved. This lead to various waves of changes which made public places accessible only to people based on their races. Thus, segregation began. By the 1950s, the country was still facing these problems as various schools, majorly in the south could not allow races to mix. Blacks would face violence from the community, while as the various segregation laws broke, many of them would have projectiles thrown at them for attending formerly whites-only schools. Of course, in the same period, women also arose and started demanding an equal place in society. They too could make an equal contribution if the systems did not stand in the way.
In the 1940s, one feature of the struggle was the massive conscription of the African American to fight in the Second World War followed by a number or protests in the 1950s and 60s. The conscription would kill two birds with one stone which would see getting better rights, and defeating the Japanese. Given the effort of all the races forming America, the Japanese were defeated, but the case of civil rights never changed when they got back to the country. They called the campaign the double v campaign. Later in the years, Harry Truman wanted to involve the other races in defence of the nation and its protection from any form of an adversary. Thus, he issued an executive order in 1948 ending discriminator in the forces, and that is the furthest that campaign went. The case of Brown versus the Board of Education was decided by the Supreme court in 1954. The case involved a consolidation of five cases, all targeting complaints about various cases of discrimination across the nation in the public schools. Despite the ruling meant to end the segregation, many schools continued the practice as the community and
teachers were opposed to the practice. Rosa Parks is one remembered character who refused to give up her seat to a white man in a bus in Alabama. What followed saw a concerted effort by the black community who boycotted the Montgomery buses. Various actions were instituted including police brutality for the people that were walking to work given that the buses were losing business. The protests took over a year until the supreme court intervened again (Schaller). The protest can be associated with others that followed, and the fact that many people had to suffer as they tried to gain acceptance in prior segregationist areas. Thus, in 1957, Martin Luther Jr. And others also sought to establish a movement to fight against these seemingly bad laws that forced some people to have subpar services from the government yet they had the same measure when being taxed. 1957 was a good year since it also saw the president, Eisenhower sign an Act that made illegal the process of intimidating voters making them not exercise their rights to vote. In some cases, the president would be required to send Federal troops to help students access their schools. Through the years that followed whereby students sit-ins happened, protests, bombings of protesters and ultimately, the 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Civil rights Act looked at all people equally as one would not be discriminated from getting a job from any personal difference. Thus, whether black, gay, Latino, disabled and so forth, a person had a right to a job as long as he or she exhibited the characteristics that the organization deemed necessary for the job. In relation to other countries, the country was being sluggish in enacting laws that exhibited respect for other races. It would be expected that, as the nation was fighting for the democracy of other countries, fighting the Soviets in Korea, and later
Vietnam that it had its house in order (Class Notes). It made no sense to leave a place where blacks, gay, Asians, and women had secondary rights to go out and fight for the same races races and genders outside the country, dying for the conviction for a need for equality while at home, the divergent groups had to kick and fight for the same. In a big way, it came out as hypocritical.
Feminism wave also arose in the time since for many years, women had fought to be treated as equals. The demands were not being met as the women continued to get low paying jobs, with most efforts and courses of study being more of man-only areas. The book written by Betty Friedman gave the feminist debate the impetus as it gave women things to think about, which helped women to start seeking better terms for themselves. Thus, as other races were fighting for equality, women were fighting to be put at the same level as men. Under the title four of the Equal Pay Act, it was made clear that gender would not be used to underpay employees (Schaller). It was a step in the right direction given the very many women factory workers who were getting lower wages than men. In the new Civil Rights Act of 1964, gender was noted as one of the cases that could not be used to discriminate alongside race, and other human features seen as inferior prior to the signage. Friedman and Gloria Steinem formed an organization for women that advocated rights to abort, freedom from domestic violence, equal education opportunities, as well as, no discrimination at work. Other women organizations were also started such as the Red-stockings, New York Radical women, as well as, woman house. Over the years, various protests took place. These saw the 1972 law against gender bias in education by Richard Nixon being passed. In that period, there were changes in many ways that women presented themselves; they went against the expectations as they shifted every aspect that many
people would attribute to the women. Through the protests by women, Roe V. Wade law made abortion legal allowing women to terminate a pregnancy in the first three months of the pregnancy, later, the government would consider the health of the mother.
Counterculture coincided with the war in Vietnam and the equal rights movements as the youths came out against the so-called norms and advocated for a difference in practice in the period. Majorly, the youth were involved, and their thinking was essential since they made major protests pitting the blacks against the racists to have extensive white participation. The involvement of many young people of the Caucasian race in the protests was central towards the country seeing the future trends and as such grant them their wishes. Looking at the protesters, many races participated, which helped in passing a message concerning the need for change. There was a generation gap, and the young people simply implied they did not have a stake in whatever was going in the country. In a way, they saw the war in Vietnam as unnecessary, saw the various social conflicts as not worthy, and did not see the reason to be involved in ‘old people’ affairs. Thus, they resisted much of which involved them especially if it was not adding much value. They can be termed to have reshaped the face of America and were the reason behind the wide range of arousing issues and their acceptance.
One feature worth checking regards the LGBT situation in the period as well, which also changed much of what they were facing. Before the Second World War, some people had tried to create advocacy groups for the LGBT community, but it was not possible. Later, Senator McCarthy tried investigating gays and lesbians that were working for the government a situation that led to LGBT communities demanding fair treatment in their workplaces. The Lavender
Scare took place in the year 1953 as President Eisenhower banned people that ‘practiced’ homosexuality from working for the federal government. This was due to fear that they would be ‘targeted for blackmail by the communists’ (Schaller). Illinois re-decriminalized same-sex relations in a repeal of its sodomy laws in 1961. Advocacy entailed a fight to legalize same-sex relations and marriages, which never happened at the time but has been happening at the moment in most countries. They were also clamoring for people’s recognition as a regular group, and for people not to term them ill. Some of the highlight scenarios were the Stonewall riots. In 1969, the police started harassing people in Stonewall, a gay establishment. Currently, many prides are majorly held in the month of June as Commemoration for the Stonewall riots. Various important wins from the various LGBT rights crusaders saw the American Psychiatric Association change the status of homosexuality from being a mental illness as people prior perceived. In 1974, Kathy Kozachenko, an openly gay person won a city council seat in Michigan. In the same year, Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts assembly. The following years saw people that had undergone gender assignment and openly gay men were voted into public offices in the cases of Renee Richards and Harvey Milk in California assembly respectively.
The historical timeline of America is riddled with various interesting, illustrious, not-so-illustrious, and quite revolutionary happenings. All these helped in shaping America that it is today. The revolutions of the 1950s-60s were instrumental in the development of the social space for the black people other races and the women. Other groups that had earlier in the years been termed as ill ended up getting a better space. Where it never worked, the revolutions, protests, and advocacy helped in planting a seed that sprouted leading to the social liberties
enjoyed by the Americans today. Still, there is a long way to go regarding racism, women equality in the workplace, as well as, the position of the LGBTQ community within the country.
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