The new left has been defined as an era of radical movements and youth revolts. It was a combination of all activities that happened between the 1950's to the mid-1970's. The new left was an era which consisted of gays and women questioning their rights and roles in the society to African Americans advocating for equal rights and the banning of apartheid. People would contend the presence of the New Left, but then how can an era that brought change in history and how the world perceived human rights, equality, and citizenship, not be recognized? This paper brings out the impacts of the New Left on history by explaining the connection between the ethnic power movement, black power, women's liberation, and civil rights movement.
It is with no doubt that the New Left Movement occurred and the organizations and people characterized by Goose in this era belonged there. On the onset of the New Left, African American's fought to gain the beliefs brought out about them by America. When independence was declared, it was stated that everyone has inalienable rights and each person was created equally. It, therefore, made other people of diverse races question why they were unequal to the whites in society. African Americans faced discrimination from whites, and they were made to attend different schools, used different means of transport, and their use of public facilities was limited as well. With the progression of this sort of separations, various protests and movements came to rise with the aim of ending discrimination and achieving equality.
Civil Rights Movement
One of the movements that arose during this period was the civil rights movement, and it shifted its perspective on how to achieve its goals and those who influenced it. Martin Luther King and his nonviolent approaches happened to have a significant influence on the civil rights movement (Gosse, 19) (Document 5). Although the campaign was dynamic, its followers still faced some challenges including the movements' changing character. Another issue was that this method was only fruitful in the south while the people in the North felt that the nonviolent protests did not help in stopping the violence (Document 7). The Riots of Watts exhibits that this was an inappropriate method of fixing the issue (Document 22).
Black Power Movement
The disagreements in the civil rights movement thus led to the establishment of another movement which referred to as the 'Black Power Movement.' This approach stressed the need for African Americans to stick together and protect one another from violence. Everyone was then influenced by Malcolm X's Preaching's (Gosse, 11) (Document 19). Supporters believed Malcolm's idea of protecting themselves against violence helped more than Luther's unsuccessful method. For instance, during Luther's demonstrations in Chicago, objects were thrown at the supporters, and some picked whatever was thrown and threw them back (Gosse,19) (Document 15). A change among the followers paved the way for the movement to modify its stand on advocating for rights (Document 19). All in all, it was the tension that led to the Black Power movement which believed in a pure society of African Americans and made use of violence as a form of certainty.
Ethnic Power Movement
Even as the blacks in America enjoyed their rights empowered by the Black Power movement, they still felt a void in their lives as U.S citizens. They African Americans faced social and political discrimination due to their skin color (Document 19). They called themselves "New Negros" since they experienced different cultures and lived separate lives from the whites. As the whites continued with discrimination, the blacks decided to live the south and headed to other areas in search of better opportunities. The 'New Negroes' ended up in Harlem and began an upsurge of their culture and advocated for the ethnic power movement. The Black Power movement also acted as a conscious effort for the liberation of the African Americans from whites' cultural institutions, social, and political clutches (Document 10). As a radicalized political viewpoint, it fought for self-assertion, self-sufficiency, and most importantly ethnic integrity with a goal of maximizing opportunities for the black. After the assassination of Malcolm X, Jones Leroi instituted the Black Arts School which helped black writers to concur with the challenges of their works facing criticism as either aesthetic or primarily political (Document 17). The Black Arts Movement impacted the world of literature portraying various ethnic voices.
Women's Liberation Movement
The New Left era also saw the onset of a feminist gain. American women were discriminated against men since they were seen as an unproductive lot. They were limited from the workplace to families and had to adhere to specific roles, yet they can do anything. Women in professional organizations and unions came in to advocate for the ban on discrimination against sex (Document 30). Friedan Betty organized a caucus of some veterans, and they formed the National Organization for Women which led them to equal treatment, such as, access to birth control, fair work wages, and voting rights (Gosse, 107) (Document 23). The organization was open to both women and women with the aim of combating discrimination through litigation and protests, as well as supporting women's advancements. The civil rights movement played a significant part in the upsurge of the feminist movement. The Civil Rights Movement gained momentum supported by new anti-racist legislation in 1960 then attained a crucial goal in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed (Gosse, 15) (Document 16).
We, therefore, see that historically, Americans did not practice a satisfying sense of togetherness as a society of both whites and blacks; it would require an individual or program with high commitment and passion for unity to be brought in the community. The New Left movements were then the best approaches for pushing for idealistic views on equality and peace. As Luther King advocated for the civil rights movement through enhancing the method of nonviolence, to assimilate the whites with the blacks, Malcolm X took a different perspective. Malcolm thought that since the whites mistreated the black people, then the blacks should form a revolution and come up with their own country and governance. He believed that violence should be used whenever necessary thus advocated for the Black Power movement that would help African Americans to protect themselves. African Americans felt they were discriminated and alienated from many social institutions and insisted on advancing their freedom by using force even though Luther King had encouraged the need for brotherhood and non-violence.
With the help of the Civil Rights Act, the option of access to birth control paved the way for women to take control of their lives and this went along with the strengthening of the Women's Movement.
Gosse, Van. The movements of the new left, 1950-1975: A brief history with documents. Springer, 2005.
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