The struggle for civil rights took place only in 1960s when the blacks minorities and women managed to unite together to exercise some pressure on the dominant “white men” who ruled the country in what was known as the Civil Rights Movement. It took several more years to convince the court that the status quo was unethical and illegal. It took even longer to change the minds of people to treat minorities as equals. The following essay explores the struggle for civil rights and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s in the USA.
The civil rights movement although might sound like focused only on the rights of the blacks in fact helped the USA to deal with many areas where discrimination was present. The civil rights movement was possibly only because the government was focusing its efforts on the Vietnam war (that started in 1959) and on combating communist menace elsewhere around the world. As people were opposing the government during that war and were dissatisfied with it, it was more likely that they could support the minority groups in their struggle with the government’s laws and policies.
When analyzing the situation with discrimination, one should keep in mind that even though the Civil War of 1861-1865 ended the notion of slavery it certainly did not end discriminatory practices against the liberated blacks. Even after the reconstruction the whites did not view blacks as humans and frequently engaged in violence against them. To reduce the violence and guarantee formal equality the blacks were segregated and presented with different education, housing, toilets and other things. Apparently, segregation did not mean that the blacks had commodities and facilities of the same qualities-most of the time these were inferior to those of the whites. While in during the WWII different black organizations tried to bring up the topic of equality, they did not really succeed. It took up till 1955 for Rosa Parks to disobey for the rest of the blacks to unite, organize and actually start the peaceful (and sometimes not so peaceful) protests. Ultimately, when it was understood that the protests and boycotts frequently do damage the economy, individual states and ultimately the whole nation admitted that the blacks indeed deserved equal treatment in everything from having a chance to attend the white school to being able to use the same toilet. Overall, the civil rights movement allowed the USA to overcome the following barriers to democracy:
- Racial Barriers. This kind of barrier discriminated based on the color of the skin and the race. Even though formally the blacks had the same rights as the whites the doctrine “separate but equal” held true. The blacks did not want to get special seats in the bus, special segregated schools or special segregated bathrooms.
- Gender barriers. Women up till 1960s were also viewed as incapable of doing the same things that males could perform. Many women were denied certain property rights. Again they managed to effectively get their point only as a result of bringing it up together with the blacks.
- Disability and other types of discrimination. The disability discrimination was certainly observed, yet people with disability did not have enough organization, unity and resources to get their point. The disability discrimination was addressed together with other types of discrimination such as age discrimination, religious discrimination, or sexual preference discrimination.
In conclusion, one should note that the path for democratization of the society and giving the Blacks and other minorities the same rights and opportunities. After the end of the civil war and the abolishment of slavery the blacks lacked the freedoms and rights that the whites enjoyed under the existing “separate but equal” scheme. Still their situation was better than that of the Native Americans who were not black enough to be covered by the separate but equal doctrine. It took decades of disorganized struggle for the blacks to unite with the women’s rights activists to actually organize and develop some consistent and constructive means of pursuing their goals for the blacks, women and other minorities. The fact that the USA at that time was actively fighting the communist menace from the Soviet Union meant that the government in order to appeal to voters and anti-war protesters was more inclined to support equal opportunity and equal rights laws than in any other period in history of the USA.
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