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Women of The Civil Rights Movement

Women of the Civil Rights Movement

This is a history research paper SAMPLE on the women of the Civil Rights Movement. It will discuss the brave women that led the movement.

A formal research paper on the women of the Civil Rights Movement will focus on several or just one of the many women that helped the movement. The women of the Civil Rights Movement should include information about the following three people at a minimum:

  1. Ida Wells-Barnett
  2. Eloise Greenfield
  3. Mary Church Terrell

The American landscape was marked by civil rights activism well before the Civil Rights Movement that began in the mid-twentieth century. Although many of the key figures identified as early civil rights activists and critical players in the Civil Rights Movement have been men, the research demonstrates that there are countless women who were also integral to the support and successful outcomes of civil rights activism. The following research looks at four of those women and the contributions that they made in guaranteeing the civil rights of not only the marginalized minorities of American society but of all American citizens.

African American Women's Groups

Numerous local groups of African American women had grown up across America during the 1890s. Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Jane Patterson had formed the Colored Women's League in Washington, D.C. in 1892. Journalist Victoria Matthews formed the Woman's Loyal Union several months later in New York City. Josephine Ruffin founded the New Era Club in Boston, and by late 1893, there was the Chicago Women's Club. By the time the NACW joined all of these groups together, there were too many to count.

Research on Female Civil Rights Activists

An examination of the research reveals that female civil rights activists played a remarkable role in supporting the claims, plans and programs designed to eliminate the injustice and inequality that permeated American society following the Civil War, Emancipation and into the mid-twentieth century Civil Rights era. The research shows that the women who contributed to the American Civil Rights Movement manifested both differences and similarities however each was, in her own way, instrumental in the development of social and political conditions that would ultimately result in the protection of civil rights for all Americans regardless of gender or race.

While some of these women did their pioneering work well in advance of the Civil Rights Movement that took place during the mid-twentieth century, the fight that they fought against injustice, racial and gender inequality and oppression was the same as that was fought by the female civil rights activists, journalists and authors who followed them. The research presents major implications for the development of a larger body of literature on female civil rights activists from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Though a seemingly clear cut issue, that all people deserve equality, it took the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "enforce the constitutional right to vote" and prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, among other freedoms it enforced (Title VII 1997). Legislation did not bring about instantaneous change, but it did draw a line in the sand.

Even if, in a Utopian scenario, the legislation affected immediate change in behavior throughout the United States and suddenly African Americans were afforded all civil rights called for by the Constitution, the debates would continue. Another issue was raising its head.

While African Americans fought for civil rights in every aspect of life, the women's movement focused primarily on equality issues. Women were not being denied services, jailed, or hung from trees simply because of their gender. However, there were serious questions about whether or not women had equal rights.

Women, regardless of race, believed that they were being denied their civil rights to equality of pay and job opportunities. Though initiated originally in 1916 by a leader in the suffragist movement, Alice Paul, the women's movement gained momentum in the 1960's after Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique "challenged traditional attitudes about women, and the civil rights movement had given women a model upon which they could base their own fight for equal rights." Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women specifically felt the need to ask that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Though the ERA amendment itself has never been ratified, it continues to be reintroduced to Congress at the opening of each session

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