Compare and Contrast the Black Civil Rights Movement with the Feminist Movement. Essay Example

Published: 2023-08-07
Compare and Contrast the Black Civil Rights Movement with the Feminist Movement. Essay Example
Essay type:  Compare and contrast
Categories:  Race Feminism Civil rights Comparative literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1126 words
10 min read

The black civil rights movements dominated American history in the years the 1950s and 1960s. The movement was meant to put to an end the era of segregation and promote equality within the United States (Riches). The feminist movement began in the 1950s. Women, who had always been discriminated against for some of their rights like voting, had achieved greater economic independence by working in the factories during the Second World War and hence began the movement to show their power (Ray 113). The men had come from war only to find the women had been relegated to the suburban kitchen as well as their roles as wives and mothers.

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The black civil rights movement held their protests by referencing the struggles of the African Americans to achieve both political and social equality (Riches). However, the ideologies of the movement were spreading beyond the community. The feminist movement referenced their protests to the dissatisfaction of rights as they sought equal opportunities and greater personal freedom for the women as it was the case for men. There was the first and second wave of feminism where the first was focused on the legal rights of women while the second one was focused on the experience of women in areas of work, politics, family and also sexuality.

The black civil rights movement was known to be an era that the people concerned dedicated to activism for the equality of rights and so that the African Americans could be treated fairly in the United States. During the movement, people engaged in rallies for the social, legal, cultural and also political changes that prohibited discriminated and segregation. The movement advocated for the rights of both women and men who were discriminated unlike the feminist movement that advocated for the rights of women only (Ray 115).

The civil rights movement emerged to address the root causes of racial inequalities in American society. Even after the plantation slavery system had been abolished the Black community faced the challenge of racist laws and practices throughout the country. From the late 1950s onwards, the civil rights movement took to the streets to peacefully protest against racial inequality and the need for reform. Often these demonstrations were broken up violently by all-White state and local law enforcement. These episodes of police brutality were televised by national broadcasters, American society was forced to engage in discussions about the proper use of force by the police.

President Eisenhower did not want to become a civil rights crusader (Riches). He became a limited supporter of the civil rights movement to counter communist propaganda that correctly pointed out the inherent contradiction of America claiming it was the leader of the free world while still having Jim Crow laws in place to oppress the Black community. After the Brown v Board of Education case, he got the legal justification to use the power of his office to desegregate public education. He then signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957 that guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. In 1960, he signed into law amendments to the Civil Rights Act that penalized anyone who destroyed voter registration records or attempted to block a person from registering to vote as a step to further secure the voting rights of the Black community. The voting rights of the Black community was further secured through the 1964 Civil Rights passed after the assassination of President Kennedy.

White American society was hostile to the idea of African Americans having equal voting rights. Furthermore, the Democratic party was afraid that they would lose the South if members of the Black community had equal voting rights. One such place was Dallas County, in the state of Alabama, where despite the Black community made up the majority of its residents, only two percent of them were registered voters (Riches). Members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had been frustrated in their attempts to register black voters in the county seat of Selma.

The feminist movement was not an instant success but in the long run, the omen earned their rights as they should. There was a series of political campaigns for the reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, sexual harassment and violence among women as brought upon them by men. It was through the feminist movement that women gained equal rights such as the right to go to work, get education as well as the right to vote. The faced one of the most critical issues of the banning of abortion and contraception which the women saw as a violation for the rights of women. The movement affected changes in the Western society that included the suffrage of women, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and the right of omen to make individual decisions that were about their pregnancy as well as the right to own property which they did not have.

The excessive use of force by the police during the civil rights era damage the reputation of law enforcement in the eyes of the Black community (Riches). An equivalent event in recent times were the events that led up to the violent protests in the city of Ferguson in the state of Missouri. An unarmed black teen called Michael Brown was shot by white police officer called Darren Wilson. A grand jury ruled that officer Wilson had done nothing wrong. There was compelling evidence that Michael Brown was belligerent, attacked the officer, and reached for the officer’s gun. When the grand jury’s decision was rendered, peaceful protests became violent. In the wake of the Ferguson riots, public opinion about police activity remains divided along racial lines. Most members of the Black community are skeptical about how White police officers choose to exercise their powers when they encounter African American suspects.

The civil rights movement was similar to the feminist movement because both advocated for the rights of the people that society did not consider too well. The civil rights movement had quite a huge impact on women because it included the rigid ideas of gender conformity making women embark on a much wider campaign of equal and opportunity. At the end of the day, both movements were after the matter of equality for the people (Ray 133). The civil rights protests warmed American society up to the idea that there was a need for change and that it was not acceptable to continue having oppression throughout the country. Many of the civil rights organizations were led by women and more so by black women.

Works Cited

Ray, Paula. "Surfing the fourth wave of the feminist movement via sns." Orienting feminism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2018. 113-133. Retrieved from

Riches, William. The civil rights movement: Struggle and resistance. Macmillan International Higher Education, 2017. Retrieved from

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