Describe Roles and Assess Significance of Women in Civil Rights Movement

The Oxford dictionary defines civil rights as “rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship including civil liberties , due processes , equal protection of the law and freedom from discrimination. “ Rights of every group of people need to be kept in mind whenever we talk of society. People have always been envious of providing their fellow country men their fair chances of success and this has resulted in sparking of civil rights movements.

Civil rights movements are efforts which were made in order to put an end to racial discrimination. Equal rights mean to have equal opportunities to live, equal treatment of all races residing in a particular region. (Oxford Dictionary, 276) Civil rights movements erupted not overnight but as a result of a long exploitation of a particular class or creed of people .

As Aristotle has said that Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime  so these issues have arisen which have affected the world community at large. Because it has always been an accepted notion that “majority is authority” and the problem stems from this very fact when the majority class of people tend to harass or fail to give the  minorities living in their territory the due  rights .

Of the various civil rights movements that erupted throughout the world ion different periods of time e. g. in Northern Ireland in 1964, in Angola, throughout Africa, in the 60’s in South Africa, the German student Movement, the American civil rights movement was what earned the most controversy and it was during the period from the 40’s to 70’s that America really accepted the vast African American’s into it’s realms. The American Movement: The American constitution had always made racial discrimination against the American Blacks who had been denied their civil rights  for a long time .

The movement for the African American’s took it’s sharp turn when Rosa Parks (1913-2005) refused to give up her seat on 1st December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger . While traveling by bus it was the law for black passengers to travel in segregated compartments and to give up their seats for a white passenger. A total of 4 black passengers were asked by the bus driver to give up their seats to some white passengers, all complied except Rosy which sparked unrest among the passengers. (Oxford Guide, 490)

Rosa was arrested for her so called “misconduct” and was jailed as well. A movement started that triggered the Montgomery Bus boycott of the 1955-56 , in which ultimate campaigning was done to harness awareness among the black community to boycott traveling by bus , this resulted in heavy losses to the Montgomery Bus service and on the day of her trial in December not a single passenger was seen commuting in the buses . This state of bankruptcy motivated the administration to seek out ways in which to end the racial discrimination and provide equal rights to the black passengers as well.

All this ultimately helped in the ending of racial discrimination. Rosa had stood through what others considered as impossible and started a much and long awaited struggle against the unethical subjugation of the African Americans. She is regarded as the mother of Civil rights. Through her the role of women in movements from that of a fund raiser changed to that of a front line leader. She was able to make it clear that women could and should lead civil rights movements.

According to Olson (Jeannie Swift, 68), “She was not just a symbol, she was an agent”. Women have been largely ignored for their efforts in the American civil rights movements. They have been ignored because they didn’t take a leading front line role; names such as Ella Baker, Septima Clark, and Fannie Hammer have been lost through the pages of history. According to Julian Bond  (women in leadership roles-MSNBC), a Civil Rights historian at the university of Virginia and Chair of NAACP, “There were very few women in public leadership roles”.

For most of the people the wives of the male leaders such as King, Williams have been considered as the political movements activists but the real place in history for the women of the American Civil rights movements has been lost in the foreground. The civil rights act of 1964 is the most comprehensive act of the United States constitution which provides provisions for parity in the use and enjoyment of public accommodations, facilities and education as well as federally assisted employment opportunities.