1. Fighting for the Rights of Migrant Workers
These workers were among the most intensely exploited in the country. From 1942 to 1964, the
Cesar Chavez knew about the terrible conditions facing agricultural workers. Born in
Chavez educated himself, and embraced the nonviolent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. In the 1950s he worked with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a Latino civil rights organization, to educate Mexican-American workers about their rights and get them registered to vote. In 1962, he founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with New Mexican-born Dolores Huerta, who also had worked with the CSO on voter registration.
It was not easy to build the union. Farm workers feared they would lose their jobs if they joined the NFWA or went on strike. But Chavez and Huerta were dedicated and persistent. They knew that farm workers had to join together if they were to win concessions from the powerful growers. When the NFWA decided to back a striking Filipino farm workers who worked in a vineyard near
Civil rights movement activists came to lend a hand with the strike, as Chavez and Huerta called on consumers to boycott grapes picked by non-union workers. The strike was eventually victorious because of their success in persuading other unions, church groups, students, and consumers across the country not to buy
Chavez and Huerta wanted the struggle to go on until all workers could live in dignity. In the words of Cesar Chavez, "We shall strike. We shall organize boycotts. We shall demonstrate and have political campaigns. We shall pursue the revolution we have proposed. We are sons and daughters of the farm workers' revolution, a revolution of the poor seeking bread and justice."
Learn more about Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers, and the grape boycott: http://library.thinkquest.org/26504/History.html
Learn more about Dolores Huerta: http://www.nwhp.org/tlp/biographies/huerta/huerta_bio.html
2. The Women's Liberation Movement
But obtaining the suffrage did not put an end to their second-class status in a society in which patriarchy (male dominance) and sexism were all-pervasive. While low income women had no choice but to work in low-paid, menial jobs, middle income women were generally expected to stay at home and look after their husbands and children.
Women who had been doing the jobs of men during World War II were not happy being pushed back into the kitchen after the war was over. Many felt isolated, lonely and trapped in the new suburbs which expanded rapidly in the 1950s.
The Movement for civil rights of the 1950s and 60s put change on the agenda. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred discrimination in employment on the basis not just of race, but also religion, national origin and sex. Eventually women would be the main beneficiaries of affirmative action programs.
The Movement inspired women to look at their lives, their position in society, and demand fundamental change. Many were stirred into action by The Feminist Mystique, a book written in 1963 by Betty Friedan, who went on to become the president of the new National Organization of Women (NOW) in 1966. NOW's mission was the achievement of "full equality for women in a truly equal partnership with men."
Women who got involved in one of the many groups which sprang up in the late 60s and 70s developed new ways of organizing based on small "consciousness-raising" meetings at which they would share personal attitudes and concerns, examine issues of identity, race, class and sexuality, and explore new opportunities for expression and fulfillment. Taking the slogan "the personal is the political" as their guide, they spread the word through demonstrations and forums, and the formation of women's centers, health clinics, battered women's shelters, day care centers and bookstores.
A generation after Simone de Beauvoir first used the phrase "women's liberation" in her 1949 book, The Second Sex, women were on the move.
Read more about the Women's Liberation Movement in the
Read women's stories: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/60s70s/
3. Gay Rights Movement
In the late 1960's the NYPD routinely conducted gay raids that usually met with little resistance. However, on June 27, 1969, the patrons of The Stonewall Inn fought back when a police tactical force raided the popular
The gay lib movement is rooted in the post World War Two homophile movement, as well as the in other social movements of the 1950's and 60's, such as the civil rights and women’s liberation movements. During the 1950's, local homophile organizations began working for gay rights through organized protests, lawsuits and local politics. Considered "politically conservative" by today’s standards, the homophiles managed to move beyond the fringe of the dominant cultural values of the day to call for social acceptance of same-sex love and transsexuality.
Four years before Stonewall, the homophile organization, the Mattachine Society, advocated direct action, which resulted in the first public homosexual demonstrations and picket lines in the 1960's. Decades after Stonewall, the homophile movement passed the torch of direct action to such activist organizations as ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and Queer Nation.
The overarching protections of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment frame many of the court battles to secure gay rights.
A very good example of a gay rights Constitutional issue is the 2003 US Supreme Court landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas, involving two gay men engaged in consensual anal sex (sodomy). The court struck down sodomy laws based on the liberty and privacy protections under the due process of the Fourteenth Amendment. In other words, before
Additionally, the Supreme Court in
With Bowers overturned by the court's
Following the Civil War, Congress passed and the states ratified the anti slavery 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Most notably for
Unfortunately, as of this writing, there still is no federal employment protection based on sexual orientation. The Congress has to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
However, 14 states -- California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin as well as the District of Columbia - have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Most of these laws are broader in scope than ENDA. They cover discrimination not only in employment, but also in housing and public accommodations.
In 1994, the late Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., joined Congressional sponsors of ENDA at a press conference to introduce the legislation. Mrs. King said that ENDA was "a step forward for freedom and human rights in our country and a logical extension of the Bill of Rights and the civil rights reforms of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. The great promise of American democracy is that no group of people will be forced to suffer discrimination and injustice. I believe that this legislation will provide protection to a large group of working people, who have suffered persecution and discrimination for many years. To this endeavor, I pledge my wholehearted support."
Today, equality marriage for same-sex couples is a big issue. Only in
The issues of importance to LBGT people are: protecting LBGT families, marriage, workplace discrimination, immigration, privacy issues, health and HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, safe schools, transgender issues (the new frontier), and the military. The hallmarks of today’s movement are coming out, acceptance and pride.