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Discrimination and Fight for Equality Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 27th, 2019

Introduction

American history since 1865 covers various aspects of live including modernization, Golden Age and the progressive era. America witnessed various aspects of development such as industrialization during these eras, which facilitated migration. The country witnessed high prosperity, especially in the northern and western parts. The US became a global dominant financial, manufacturing and agricultural power. It is documented that the yearly income for employed individuals grew by an average of 75 percent within 1865 to 1900.

The annual growth rate was 33 percent in 1918. In 1865, the people of America managed to abandon slavery through Civil War. Since then, the US became a powerful and strong country with a nationalized government. Reconstruction contributed to the end of slavery. A system of segregation was instituted under Jim Crow’s policy, which subordinated former slaves.

They could were treated as second citizens meaning that they did not enjoy full political rights. In terms of government control, the republicans dominated leadership between 1865 and 1918. There were only two presidents under Democratic Party meaning that republican policies dominated the US between 1865 and 1918.

In 1900, an era referred to as progressive era, America witnessed various political and social reforms. The education system and issues related to equality were revised. This implied that many organs of government and society in general were modernized. The civil rights activists, who were referred to as progressives, formed a good relationship with the middle class to fight injustices practiced by government officials and state corporations. Between 1865 and 1918, 27.5 million people migrated to the US.

This population provided enough labor to American industries and agricultural enterprises. It also provided a population base for the development of cities and other urban areas (Bowles, 2011). By 19th century, the US had developed new technology such as telegraphy and steel, railroad network, which brought about the Second Industrial Revolution.

The US participated in the Second World War successively by defeating Germany and forming strong ties with other winners such as France and Britain. This was attributed to strong financial base, military power and agricultural strength.

It is noted that throughout history, American has witnessed various problems as regards to discrimination and inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever increasing meaning that the rich will always continue being rich while the poor will continue languishing in poverty.

This paper discusses the efforts put in place by the poor and people of the color to end discrimination. This means that equality and civil rights have been challenged for several years. African-Americans have undergone hard times to end discrimination. It is identified that many African-Americans lost their lives in the quest for freedom.

Fight for Equality

Immediately after the American Civil War, slaves were granted their freedoms. This meant that war and uprisings were some of the techniques applied by African-Americans to fight for their freedoms. However, blacks were still treated unfairly even after the revolution. Various amendments to the US constitution brought about changes to society. The amendments categorically stated that slavery and unequal treatment were illegal in the US.

The constitution stated that any individual born in the US was a legal citizen. Furthermore, male citizens were allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice irrespective of skin color (Bowles, 2011). Through analysis, it is established that fighting injustices in a white dominated society is not easy. Blacks had to employ various techniques to achieve their status in society. Most whites opposed the activities of blacks since they believed that blacks were inferior and had to supply free labor in society.

The Thirteenth Amendment

After the Civil War, the congress passed the thirteenth amendment as one way of promoting African activism. The amendment was immediately incorporated into the American constitution in 1865. This amendment further declared that providing free labor was unwarranted. The amendment was in line with the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in the seceded states were free. President Abraham Lincoln legalized and included the announcements in the constitution.

This meant that the congress had powers to come up with laws that could put off slavery. During this time, slave owners had to compensate their subjects for the work done. In other words, slave owners had to pay slaves for the work that was once done free. Southern slave owners thought that the government could pay them for taking away their slaves.

On the other hand, the northern slave owners believed that slaves could take up their jobs at a reduced price. This meant that slaves had to work for many hours, at low prices, and could work under poor working conditions. Conversely, blacks did not have good education that could land them decent jobs. This implied that they had to rely on whites for casual jobs.

Blacks encountered various problems after the death of Abraham Lincoln. The incumbent president, Andrew Johnson, declared that only whites could be involved in rewriting Southern constitutions. This showed that the government misrepresented blacks. The government was indifferent to their sufferings.

However, only the congress rescued blacks. In 1866, the congress passed a bill declaring that all blacks had a right to participate in major decision-making processes. In the same year, a Civil Rights Bill was passed. The bill stated that any individual born in the US was a citizen by birth. The president and his associates were not happy.

They explored all possible avenues that could block the bill. However, the bill received support from the majority congresspersons. The congress declared that all people were equal irrespective of their race. To strengthen the bill, the congress announced that the central government could intervene whenever a state or a certain region contravened the rights of Africans.

The Fourteenth Amendment

The fourteenth amendment was legitimately incorporated into the constitution in 1868. The new amendment aimed at granting rights and freedoms to Africans. The amendment strengthened the thirteenth amendment by claiming that all citizens had equal rights since they were all lawful citizens. All citizens, including the slaves, could enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms provided by the state. The congress passed the bill to ensure that American states do not deny slaves the right to education.

Furthermore, the amendment gave slaves equal chances as regards to law and voting on political decisions. Blacks were discriminated by courts because whites were always favored in adjudication. Moreover, blacks could not participate in politics fully. This meant that they could not present their candidature neither could they vote for their preferred candidate.

An account of Gender Disparity

Scholars underscore the fact that it is imperative to consider time, culture and country when understanding the activities of feminist organizations. Some scholars assert that all efforts made by women to achieve their goals and objectives are termed as feminism. Competing schools of thought argue that only modern activities should be termed feminism. The activities of women can be categorized into three waves or classes.

Understanding feminism as a universal concept would be suicidal to historical inquiry. The first wave consisted of women’s suffrage that was championed in the 19th century. It was concerned about voting rights. The second phase was closely related to women’s liberation movement, which started after 1960.

It argued that women had to be guaranteed job securities and protected legally (Bowles, 2011). This meant that the state had to come up policies aimed at protecting women from social injustices. It could involve empowering women through education and civil awareness. The third wave was more radical because it attempted to evaluate the achievements and failures of the second wave (Hurst, 2007).

Women started fighting for their rights during the 19th century in the US and UK. They were mostly focused on promoting equality, marriage rights, parenting and ownership of property. Towards the end, the movement shifted its attention to political power and authority. The movement wanted the state to allow all women to participate in elections.

This meant that women were allowed to vote for candidates of their choice. Furthermore, women were allowed to contest for various positions during elections, as long as they qualified. Feminist groups advocated for abolition of slavery, which was seen as a road to elimination of male domination. In 1919, the constitution was amended to cater for the interests of women.

The Nineteenth Amendment to the US constitution granted women the right to participate in political processes. After the achievement, women did not relax instead they took their struggle a notch higher by demanding for more powers and freedoms. The new wave was termed the second wave of feminism.

The second wave aimed at eliminating social injustices as opposed to political issues. In this case, women wanted to be provided with social services such as childcare services, proper housing, medical cover and free education.

Women’s activities took a different shape in 1990. The feminism organizations at this time aimed at lobbying the government to implement policies contained in the second wave. Third wave feminism focused on micro-politics and universalizing feminism. In this case, it delinked feminism from white women and tried to understand it as a common problem to all women in the world. Third wave feminism understood the position of women in society through a post-structural perspective.

The second wave applied the ideas of Marx, which were radical and unrelenting. The second wave feminist scholars argued that no social structure could be maintained through oppressing and exploiting a section of its members (Wood, 2005). The movement aimed at generating a female dominated society.

On the other hand, the third wave feminism observed that it is not easy to change a social structure. In this case, each person should be involved in the process of change. It is therefore true that the third wave feminism aimed at influencing society to accept the contributions of women. Changing a social structure would cause social instabilities, which would further lead to breakage of societal law.

Major Concerns of Feminism

The major aim of feminism was liberation from the house of bondage. As earlier stated, each category of feminism aimed at liberating itself from certain injustices. In this case, liberal feminism aimed at achieving egalitarianism between men and women in society. This was achieved through legal and political reforms. This would not change societal structure. Radical feminism related its problems to the capitalistic economy that was controlled by men.

In this regard, such groups aimed at revising the social structure. Conservative feminism tried to understand its surrounding. Libertarian feminism asserted that people were owners of their lives meaning that they had the power to determine their own destinies. Separatist feminism argued that women had to concentrate on helping themselves meaning that heterosexual relationships were irrelevant to women.

Furthermore, economic determinism was an issue of concern to women. Women singled out capitalism as being an impediment to their achievement in society. Capitalistic ideologies discriminated women from accessing resources in society. Socialist scholars differentiated themselves from Marxism by arguing that injustices could only be abolished through revising social structure and having sound economic policies in society (McPherson, 2003).

Cultural feminist movement aimed at ensuring that women were self-sufficient and self-reliant. Towards the beginning of 1990s, a new wave of feminism emerged, which advocated for rights and freedoms of adolescent females. The movement wanted the government to come up policies that could protect young women from societal injustices such as rape and sexual harassment. In this case, young women were to be allowed to come up with make-ups of their choices, including clothing and sexual allure.

Achievements of Feminist Organizations

Feminist groups managed to do away with various forms of discrimination against women. The government decided to abolish laws that segregated society based on gender in 1960s. Through the activities of feminist groups, women were granted rights such as reproduction rights. This meant that women were allowed to determine their destinies as regards to pregnancies. The high court decided in the case involving Roe and Wade that women could abort pregnancies on grounds of health.

Through this achievement, women took charge of families because they could seek for family planning contraceptives. Women were relieved from domestic chores meaning that some took over political positions. As a consequent, division of labor was also extended to women because some of them were relied upon during policy formulation.

In early 1990s, the UN charter was formulated to safeguard the interests of women in all parts of the world. Through the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, women’s rights were documented as international bill of rights that the state had to grant unconditionally (Karenga, 2010).

Conclusion

Through feminist activities and activities of blacks, language used in society is currently unbiased meaning that it is inclusive and non-sexist. This has greatly shaped the participation of blacks and women in political processes, including voting and governmental appointments.

For instance, the word ‘Miss’ may perhaps be utilized to signify both married and unmarried women. In society, unmarried individuals were not entrusted with leadership. This affected women before but it is no longer an issue in the contemporary world. In the religious front, women managed to convince the faithful that it is not God’s will for men to oppress women. In this regard, women should be allowed to participate in religious activities actively.

Consequently, women are presently ordained as bishops in various denominations, although some are still conservative such as catholic. Culturally, women managed to lobby the government to institute stricter laws that cater for the rights of women. It is a criminal offence to engage a woman in sex without her consent. Criminals charged with forcible rape receive severe punishments, a move that is aimed at discouraging the vice.

References

Bowles, M. (2011). A history of the United States since 1865. San Diego, CA: Bridge point Education.

Hurst, C. (2007). Social Inequality (6th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education.

Karenga, M. (2010). Introduction to Black studies (2nd ed.) Michigan: University of Sankore Press.

McPherson, J. (2003). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford: Pulitzer Prize.

Wood, J. (2005). Gendered Lives (6th ed.). Belmont: Thomson Learning.

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