Civil Rights Movement Tag

In 1923, on the 75th anniversary of the 1848 Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, Alice Paul introduced the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” The National Women's Party and professional women like Amelia Earhart, the great pilot, supported it. But other reformers, particularly in the labor movement, who had worked hard for protective labor laws for women, were afraid the ERA would wipe out their progress. (This could have been solved by mobilizing for the extension of protective labor laws to men – like not lifting items over a certain weight or doing especially hazardous labor — but it became a huge sticking point for those protectionists who exploited class divisions within the women's movement.) By the early 1940s, both the Democratic and Republican parties had added support of...

This is the third and last installment of a three-part meditation on women’s suffrages—plural. Parts One and Two examined the tortured twisting path of suffrage in this country, which always prioritized white, Christian, land-holding, property-owning males. Contrary to all the national mythography, the record shows historical hostility toward women and toward those men who were poorer, or “foreign.” That is, unless they were useful: Native Americans whose land and lives were for the taking, Africans abducted and forced here into enslavement, Chinese “imported” to build railroads and infrastructure and then no longer welcome, and so on. Women? Servants of the indentured, slaves of the slaves. In Parts One and Two, I tried to offer consciousness-changers that have meant much to me and that I recommend as sources for self-education about a legacy with which we are both burdened and privileged. The burdened part—well, see above. The privilege comes in, for every American, because the Framers (white, propertied, highly flawed males) nonetheless shared an impossibly impractical, aspirational vision that had not been put to the test of practice anywhere, ever. They knew that realizing that vision in reality would be a continuous, arduous task. The phrase "To form a more perfect union” in the Preamble to the Constitution reveals a diplomatically cautious James Madison trying to affirm the vision and not insult the original 13 states yet acknowledge the endless road ahead. So that was the goal of Parts One and Two. Now it’s time to get personal.