A nation’s economy apparently controlled by the pseudo-rich can manipulate the law to ironically benefit them and yet create a false sense of security among its labor sector. Employers were free to spy, interrogate and discipline discharge and blacklist union members which led to the inception of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 (US NLRA,1994). Senator Robert Wagner of New York sponsored the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 which created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that established the worker’s right to Collective Bargaining.
The World War II which began in 1939 saw Black newspaper editors insisting their support for the war which depended on equal treatment of black soldiers and black civilians with equal opportunities to work in war industries. As the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters led by Philip Randolph planned a March on Washington demanding contractors to hire blacks on an equal basis with whites, President Roosevelt created the federal Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to enforce it which the FEPC declined to act on.
The provision in the Act as a law considers it illegal for employers to exercise interference, restraint or coercion on a union’s collective activity and prohibits domination and refusal of employers to bargain in good faith with union representatives. The blacks then left southern farms and migrated to the North and the West to areas of lesser racial tension and conflict where they begin to enjoy much larger incomes. Even after the war the Blacks continued to work against discrimination which later saw a new organization, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), in 1942 that challenge segregation in public accommodations in the North. Black campaigns were set for a double V; victory for the war in Europe and for fascism at home.
The American society during this period demanded a social change in racial attitudes which exposed social injustices that questioned the bigotry of southern communities. The backdrop of social injustice was used by Lillian Smith as the first white woman Southerner screaming out for social change in her best selling novel. This forced the Truman administration to tackle this problem after liberal politicians began to question the bigotry of most southern communities. In 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act despite veto by President Harry S. Truman amended the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 which severely restricts the activities and power of labor unions.
The struggles continued as even the educational system brought massive segregation leading to the Supreme Court rulings declaring racial segregation in schools as unconstitutional. The whites in the South opposed the movement which included firing school employees who showed willingness to seek integration, closing public schools and all integrated public education.
The government led efforts to desegregate schools increased the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) membership which included intimidation and murder in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. Few of their terroristic activities received media attention until the murder of a 14-year old Black boy, Emmett Till in 1955. This dramatized the determination of the blacks in the South to end segregation as other eloquent figures confronted the issues of racism in a non-violent way.
By 60s women began to work for equal rights and end discrimination at home and at work by taking part in marches and speaking out against inequality. The issue was brought forth after decades of overruling after its introduction in 1923 when it failed to gain support. President Kennedy established the first national Commission on the Status of Women in 1961 which detailed employment discrimination, unequal pay, legal inequality, and insufficient support services for working women which was opposed by a majority of the commission members. In 1970, 50 years after the granting of women’s right to vote, massive efforts were actively launched that later won congressional approval in 1972 and became the 27th Amendment.
If it were left to the government the rights of the ordinary people would have been left untouched. The constitution provided everyone to be treated equally with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Opposing and criticizing the government brought forth an end to racial and gender discrimination as common people insisted that black people were human beings and women are not anyone’s property and should have control over their own bodies and earn sufficient income.
However fundamental conditions for the vast majority of farmers, workers, slum dwellers, miners, women, black and white remained poor(Zinn;349–350). Although the Bill of Rights provided for protection of these sectors in the American society, they were sooner ignored. Interestingly every US president, whether liberal or conservative; Republican or Democrat violated his pledge to uphold the Constitution by continuing to turn a blind eye on acts of slavery, segregation and inequality. Interpretations of the law made them useless until the civil rights movement exposed unfair treatment when the Supreme Court did bits for the ruling elite (Zinn, 260).
The greed for power in the American civil society has left no meaning to equal justice as conflicts escalate and psychological warfare is nurtured to harden and manipulate the public to turn Americans against each other. Even during the World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, plots to heighten racism towards the Japanese–Americans mostly living in the West regarded them as the enemy. Hostility towards the Japanese-Americans was encouraged as they became prisoners and enemies of their own country. But the American leadership sought to dismiss their own declarations to uphold freedom and pronounced activities of racial discrimination in the 1940’s.
Pres. Truman in 1947 vetoed the Taft-Henley Act halfheartedly to psychologically gather support for request of $400 million economic aid to Greece and Turkey to supposedly “help free people who are resisting attempts by subjugation by armed minorities that in effect showed that Americans never had justice in the courts for the poor people, for black people and for radicals (Zinn; 243). In effect the government’s blind eye on the efforts against inequality was intended to stabilize the capitalist system and blunt the edge of the Socialist movement to restore some measure of class peace (p. 354).
Had it not been for activists who effectively used different tactics that bordered on with religious fervor like the steps followed by Martin Luther King, the fight would have been stored in the annals of history and civil rights forgotten. Even Presidents Kennedy and Johnson despite their support for civil rights one remained passive until people refused to quit and insisted on their rights and the rights of others.
Litigations were definitely pursued and later rampant mass actions that framed into alliances between Jewish and Black leaders fanned demonstrations and riots that created international interest in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The unfair treatment of the US on its own people easily portrayed the US on its hypocrisy on its citizens as objects of racial discrimination. It soon sparked as a major factor in pushing the government towards civil rights legislation that continued on as large crowds exhibited disgust over so-called American corporate society (p.550).
It goes into reason that politicians used their might to support the corporate sectors’ relevant refusal to grant equal rights to blacks and women. Granting them access to their own rights would naturally mean higher pay for the earners and lower profits for the capitalists. Political leaderships, not wanting to loose the support of their corporate friends despite knowledge of unfair treatment sought to dismiss the acts. Even the media controlled by rich big-wigs refused to create coverage that severely involved white wash to exercise control of information. Such was the extent and tentacles of power used for corporate gains that demean the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
Zinn, Howard. (2001). People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001.
US Govt. National Labor Relations Act Handouts. (1994). US Govt. National Labor Relations Act Handouts. United States Government. p.2-4.