Much like African-American leaders and reformers that brought about the end of racial discrimination and segregation via the Civil Rights Movement, in 1866, Stanton created the American Equal Rights Association, aimed at organizing women in the long fight for equal rights. In 1868, the U.S. Congress ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which "defined citizenship and voters as male" and excluded women; in 1870, Congress ratified the Fifteenth Amendment which also excluded women in favor of African-American males ("The History of Women's Suffrage," Internet).
At this point, the women's movement split into two factions, the National Woman
Suffrage Association, headed by Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and the American Woman Suffrage Association, a more conservative organization headed by Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone. By 1890, these two opposing factions joined forces to create the National American Woman Suffrage Association under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Gurko, 145).
Sometime around 1910, an era known as the Progressive Movement came about which allowed women reformers to "rattle their spears in defense of their rights as American citizens to vote, hold office, and maintain their own standard of living" comparable to that of men (Gurko, 147). Within a short period of time, the often radical ideas linked to the Progressive Movement began to spread to every state in the nation, something which helped women reformer greatly in their decades-long struggle for equal rights.
By 1919, the reality of the problem linked to women and their battle for equal rights was finally recognized by the U.S. Congress through its submission of the Nineteenth Amendment to all 50 states which granted women the right to vote. President Woodrow Wilson, however, opposed this amendment as did eight states in the former Confederacy; however, by the summer of 1920, "enough states had ratified the amendment which assured the right to vote to women in all states" just in time for the elections in November of 1920 (Berkeley, 214).
Thus, after the election of Warren G. Harding as President in 1921, the women's rights movement quickly changed course and began to focus on a number of new ideas, one being to once and for all place American women on an equal footing with men. When the League of Women Voters was created, along with the National Woman's Party,
reformers began to propose what came to called the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Congress in 1923, but because Congress was made up of mostly white men, this amendment failed to pass, due in part to its demand that discrimination on the basis of gender must be eliminated ("The History of Women's Suffrage," Internet).
Over the next forty years, women reformers under the guise of feminists continued their political and social battle for the Equal Rights Amendment, and when the National Organization for Women (NOW), headed by leaders like Betty Friedan, came to power in the early 1960's, a "national campaign was launched as an attempt to get the Equal Rights Amendment" passed and ratified by the U.S. Congress; unfortunately, this never occurred and the ERA remains today as "unfinished business" (Berkeley, 216).
In conclusion, the overall causes, goals and leadership of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Rights Movement have much in common, such as struggling for many decades to obtain equal rights, to end discrimination and racial bias, and to give all Americans, whether white, black, male or female, equal protection under the laws of the United States so that every person can pursue the so-called "American dream" of freedom and liberty regardless of sex, gender or skin color. It should also be mentioned that these two movements produced a number of outstanding leaders like Dr. King, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all of whom remain today as shining examples of American fortitude, courage and determination.
Berkeley, Kathleen C. The Women's Liberation Movement in America. New York:
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.
Frederick Powledge. We Shall Overcome: Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Gurko, Miriam. Ladies of Seneca Falls: The Birth of the Women's Rights Movement.
New York: Easton Press, 2000.
Riches, William T. Martin. The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance.
New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003.
"The History of Women's Suffrage." Women's History Month. 2008. Internet. Retrieved May 26, 2009 from http://www.history.com/content/womenhist/the-history-of-women-s-suffrage.
I. Thesis Statement
"Out of all these groups, two in particular stand out, being the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 1960's and the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1960's and 1970's, both of which share many similarities related to the process used to gain their rights. These two movements also share similarities in relation to basic, underlying causes, their overall goals and especially the leaders who guided each of these movements from a grassroots organization to national prominence and success."
II. The African-American Civil Rights Movement
A. The beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement
1. Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
2. Denied equal protection under the 14th Amendment
3. President Eisenhower and the first civil rights bill
4. Little Rock, Arkansas desegregation test
B. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott
1. Parks refuses to give up her seat
2. Segregation of public transport found unconstitutional
III. Dr. Martin Luther King and his non-violent protests
A. The emergence of Dr. King as a leader
1. Organizes the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
2. Dr. King, Selma and Ghandi
3. President Johnson -- "We Shall Overcome."
B. King becomes the leader of the Civil Rights Movement
1. King's assassination and the future of the movement
IV. Women's Liberation (the Feminist Movement)
A. Long discriminated against like African-American slaves
B. Seneca Falls, Women's Rights Convention of 1848