The Battle for Equality


Can you imagine turning on your television one day and seeing buildings in your hometown burning along with riots in full force? Sadly, this was the case during a few events in the civil rights era. From the 1950s – 1970s, there were several social issues in the United States with many groups, sparking the start of battles to be fought for equal access and the basic rights that every US citizen should have had. The groups that fought for equal access had started what seemed to be a war in the US against its own people. Each of them held their own without backing down to anybody or anything. Unfortunately, there was a lot of violence associated with these battles, including mobs and riots, along with police brutality and assassinations.

Throughout the civil rights period, I believe that African Americans gained the most out of their battles, even though they seemed to have suffered more than every other group due to the police brutality, mobs, and the extreme riots that broke out. I believe that there was no better time to start a movement than the 1960s, due to the growth of media and the amount of press coverage that was given during the riots that attacked African American demonstrators, which opened the eyes of many Americans, even the President in some cases. For example, as the Birmingham campaign demonstration was happening, the nation was shocked as they viewed television and newspaper images of firefighters attacking protestors with torrents of water and police dogs (Pearson 27.2.2). As African Americans suffered through the abuse from the police, Kennedy proposed a civil rights act outlawing racial segregation of public facilities. Then, during Freedom Summer, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning segregation in businesses and places open to public (Pearson 27.2.4). Another way that African Americans gained from the civil rights era was after the march on Selma, where marchers tried to gain sympathy of mainstream journalists covering the march. Five months after the march, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, prohibiting literacy tests, poll taxes, and authorized use of federal registrars to register voters (Pearson 27.2.5). These laws were the benefits that came from the pain and suffering that African Americans had fought through.

Even though I believe that African Americans gained the most out of the civil rights era, I also believe that other groups gained from their own crusades. In 1966, women founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) which secured equal rights in traditionally male domains, convincing President Johnson to issue an executive order to create affirmative action programs hiring and promoting women and minority men (Pearson 27.3.5). Many women faced gender discrimination and sexual discrimination, especially as few males seemed to care about the complaints. As women were discriminated against, LGBTQ community members were also discriminated against as anti-sodomy laws were the norm across the country before 1970, and homosexual acts were considered morally wrong. However, on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn riots took place, where the gay community fought back against police during a raid on the community. This is symbolized as the start of the gay rights movement. Mexican Americans and Native Americans also gained from their own movements, as the short-handed hoe was banned in 1975 after it caused intense back pain to field workers (mainly Mexican workers) and Native Americans gained increased funding from Nixon for Indian reservations.

In conclusion, the civil rights era seemed to be one of the greatest points of breakthrough for many groups suffering discrimination and prejudice, and benefits came from the battles fought by several of the groups. Thankfully, with great leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., these groups were able to change what America was used to in their every day lives. Personally, I believe that nobody should be discriminated against due to race, sex, orientation, color, ethnicity, etc. as everybody is a human being and we all must live in the same world. The civil rights era just proves how much can change over time for one country.

Bibliography

Keene, Jennifer D., Saul T. Cornell and Edward T. O’Donnell. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, 3/e. Boston: Pearson, n.d.

“Sodomy Laws in the US.” SexInfo Online, UCSB, University of California, 10 Oct. 2013, http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/sodomy-laws-us.

14 thoughts on “The Battle for Equality

  1. It truly is sad that you could turn on your television and see burning buildings and riots taking place right there in your home town. There were many groups fighting for equality during the civil rights era. I believe African Americans made the most advancements during this time because they gained desegregation and the right to vote.

    1. I agree that African Americans advanced the most. They used to be born into slavery and now they are treated as people and not animals. Many groups are still fighting for equality and its sad to think that riots could destroy your home town.

  2. I couldn’t imagine viewing the graphic footage from the time, it is still shocking to me to see what they put on the news now. I definitely viewed the African Americans as having the hardest battles and making the most progress, but at the same time I wonder if how the media shaped that is why that’s how I see it. That being said, they did get legislation passed and that can’t be altered by media so they really did make the most progress. I liked how you called their movements crusades, they really did have to go out and fight. In reference to your conclusion, I just wish it didn’t take so much time and blood to figure out that we’re all human.

    1. Media has played a large role in societal changes within the past century and I would like to think that it really isn’t based on ideals, so much as when you are faced with the truth you must make a decision and witnessing human strife in large scale makes you feel inclined to be on the side of “good” so to speak. Modern media gets flak on one side or another for the sake of bias but you have to appreciate when the truth is corroborated and the infighting abated.

    2. I was thinking the same thing, do we think African Americans had it the hardest because the media showed them the most and there were more records on those events than other ethnicities? I do believe they had a very hard time, I would never say different, but have we belittled other races battles in the process?

    3. Isn’t it crazy that how much of this graphic footage was broadcast? I think the media plays a huge role in how the public perceives things, but you definitely can’t deny the good and progress that was made by these movements. I think the media these days, too are really painting pictures that are downright incorrect, and that is a problem for me.

    4. Media once again played a huge role for opening the eyes of Americans and letting them see first hand what is happening to others. I also agree that they fought the toughest battles and made tremendous progress throughout history. It’s just unfortunate that we still see these kinds of treatment today.

  3. I agree with you that the African Americans fought for the biggest benefit. However, they had been fighting longer for their rights than the rest of the groups. They started from being slaves to being able to be whatever they wanted to be and that was a very long and hard battle. They suffered greatly from the riots as well as brutality from the police and mobs. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the biggest influencers of the Civil Right’s Movement. He did a lot through his speeches and sit-ins that he organized as non-violent forms of protests. I personally believe that without his efforts, the Civil Right’s Movement would not have gone as far as it did.

  4. This time was very brutal for African Americans and other groups. For me seeing how African Americas were being treated and how they were hated by so many people, it is really inspiring to see how MLK handle these situations while angry mobs attacked his protesters. I believe by MLK using peace it had really pushed his movement.

    1. Martin Luther King Jr had himself been inspired by the velvet revolution brought about by Gandhi. It is hard to think that in the time we live with strained relations and escalating tension that there are peaceful solutions. It gets harder to see options like protests and boycotts making a difference in the modern age simply because of the desensitization of the screen. I have endless respect for MLK, fighting through so much, even against the government itself to see it through, that man’s patients is simply awe inspiring.

    2. For me it was shocking to see how much hate they encountered in the North. I knew the encountered heavy resistance and violence in the South. I was surprised that those who marched for equality in Northern cities were met by angry mobs.

  5. Some people say that the worlds gone mad when seeing riots and mass protests in the past few years yet they seem to forget just how insane the riots and press coverage was during the 60’s. I think it’s really amazing to see just how much the Civil Rights Movement remains parallel to our modern day problems. Such as how the 60s saw a revolution in media and television we see our own media revolution through online news articles, cell phone cameras, so on so forth. After all even the Gay Rights Movement hadn’t seen true legislative change until the Supreme Court decision back in 2015 almost 50 years since Stonewall.

  6. “everybody is a human being and we all must live in the same world.”

    I agree we must all live in the same world. But sad to say, racism no matter how much progress has been made might always be a problem in America. Why? Because it’s about power, yeah the ignorant racist person might be racist simply because of skin color. But the intelligent racist person will be racist because they don’t want to lose power to a different group of people. So while Dr. King was a great man, did his solution really solve the problem or just give the illusion of the problem being solved. And if the heart of racism is truly about power, then one can argue that people like Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad had the better solution.

  7. “Throughout the civil rights period, I believe that African Americans gained the most out of their battles, even though they seemed to have suffered more than every other group due to the police brutality, mobs, and the extreme riots that broke out.” I really like this quote from you because I think it is so true. Their nonviolent protest I believe spoke louder than any words or other actions possible. I think it was a huge step in American History.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s