Martin Luther King and NAACP
Known as one of the most significant persons in the struggle of African-Americans for equality, Martin Luther King was largely supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). However, in the late 1960s, he changed his strategies by making them more radical and critical towards the government and the Church. In particular, one of the documents called the “Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963)” shows that King who was arrested and prisoned for illegal actions discussed the term of extremism in the realities of that time (“Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)” n.d.).
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The activist’s words are full of resoluteness and the sense of righteousness as he states that extremism for love coincides with just laws. One may note that the latter were viewed by King as the laws that fit moral and natural law, while unjust laws were considered as ones that promote further racial segregation.
In addition to the unstable internal state of affairs, the US was leading wars in Cuba and Vietnam. The counterculture and mistrust to the government were the main features of the late 1960s, and the situation tended to become even tenser (Moss 2012).
In this case, NAACP preferred to distract from radical organizations and persons in an attempt to establish peaceful solutions. Therefore, King’s statements regarding extremism in terms of the African-American movement was not supported by NAACP. It should be stressed that some organizations such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) accused the above organization in being too moderate and taking a non- action-oriented position. In fact, the changed strategies of the identified activist were caused by the resistance of the government and White people to legalize the rights of African-Americans (“Students for a Democratic Society, The Port Huron Statement (1962)” n.d.). Since a range of non-violent efforts did not bring significant results, and they were evaluated as extremism, it seems that King found the only way out in calling for more radical actions.
Feminist Consciousness of the Early 1960s and Social Reality
Along with the African-American population of the US, the feminist movement also struggled for equal rights in the 1960s. The problem of women’s position in social, economic, and political areas remained unspoken for many centuries. Deadened by domesticity, women started to discuss their roles and the social reality they lived in. For example, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was created to unite women and develop necessary changes to be introduced in various fields of the country.
Moss defined the mentioned period as the rebirth of feminism, when women began demanding not only equal treatment in general but also quite specific issues (Moss 2012). For example, many of them were employed outside the house, while remuneration composed only a half of those of male workers (Moss 2012). One of the key claims of women was to provide more equal compensation and ensure that women had appropriate working conditions.
Feminists made their movement more public and sound in the late 1960s, and Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” largely contributed to it. In her book, the author claimed that women were unconsciously desperate while being treated only as housewives who seemingly had it all – husbands, children, and houses (Moss 2012). In fact, the ideas presented by Friedan are similar to those expressed by King. All of them called for eliminating human degradation and combating for equality that should be inherent in any society (“Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)” n.d.; “Students for a Democratic Society, The Port Huron Statement (1962)” n.d).
As a result, deeply rooted attitudes of women changed as they understood that their problems were not individual yet socially-conditioned by male hegemony. This shift in consciousness allowed achieving an increased awareness among women regarding their own role in family and society. The discussion of such issues as rape and abortion laws also promoted change in feminist consciousness.
“Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963).” N.d. Pearson Myhistorylab. Web.
Moss, George Donelson. “Rebellion and Reaction.” In Moving on: The American People Since 1945, 5th ed. New York, Pearson, 2012.
“Students for a Democratic Society, The Port Huron Statement (1962).” N.d. Pearson Myhistorylab. Web.