Civil Rights vs. Women's Rights

Equal Pay in Jobs


Helpful Definitions:

  • equal opportunity- policies and practices in employment and other areas that do not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical handicap, or national origin
  • discrimination- treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit
  • prohibition- a law, order, or decree that forbids something
  • equity- the state, quality, or ideal of being just, impartial, and fair
  • unalienable rights- rights which are incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another. As stated in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
  • workforce- the total number of workers in a specific undertaking

What was the Civil Rights Movement?

In the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans and other minority groups fought to attain the unalienable rights given to them through the Constitution as citizens of the United States. Although the movement officially started in 1955, it was a gradual process. African Americans and minority groups were in support of the movement, as well as some whites who agreed that all men are created equal. However, the majority of whites were against the idea of equality. The legal system, run by white people, was exceedingly unjust to the African Americans. On top of that, there were gangs, such as the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan, who would harass African American communities and murder them without being punished. After years of brutality, the African Americans began to take a stand to fight the social norms. In 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the first organized protests in the movement. The boycott lasted 381 days and received national attention. This was the beginning of protesting, marches and riots for equality all around the United States. Finally, the Civil Rights Act was proposed by John F. Kennedy and signed by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. The act prohibited discrimination in public places,made employment discrimination illegal, and provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities.

Important Dates Throughout The Civil Rights Movement:

  • Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947
  • The armed forces integrating in 1948
  • Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954
  • Little Rock Central High School desegregated in 1957
  • Children's March led by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963
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The first picture is of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional athlete, ultimately opening doors for other African Americans.
The second picture is of Martin Luther King Jr., who was a prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
The last picture is of a student at Little Rock High School when it was desegregated in 1957.

What was the Women's Rights Movement?

The Women’s Rights Movement has been in serious effect since as early as July of 1848. By the early 1980's, women’s suffrage groups began using radical tactics in hopes of passing an amendment to the constitution. It was submitted to congress with a hope of becoming ratified. The amendment stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Congress prescribed up to seven years, a typical time limit, for the states to ratify this amendment, requiring that both houses of legislature have a two-thirds majority vote. Within this grace period women diligently continued to fight for equality. Parties formed, such as the National Women’s Party, working to raise money to endorse the proposed amendment. Some of these parties also resulted to radical protests, picketing, marching, and assembling large demonstrations. Eventually that House of Representatives and the United States Senate authorized the amendment, leaving the ultimate decision up to the states. Finally on August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became a law, and women could vote in the fall elections,including the upcoming Presidential election. That was a prominent event in history, helping to evolve the Women’s Rights Movement to other substantial causes for women of all ages and race. Since then, women have made substantial strides towards ending sexual discrimination especially in the workplace. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, for example, states that “No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex.” Although equal pay between both genders is a persisting issue, annually, society is improving about a half a penny per dollar. Not only are women working for equal pay but also earning social and political rank. This started as early as when Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed chair women by John F. Kennedy to establish the President’s Commission on the status of women, to our current presidential election where Hilary Clinton, is still fighting the battle. Women will continue to seek a common goal of equality, and within feminist groups, such as The National Organization for Women (NOW), that goal will eventually be obtained.

external image march32 external image lg%20Women%27s.JPG

How do the two connect?

The success of the Civil Rights Movement opened doors and minds to the idea of equality for all minorities. If it was not for prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement to look up to, such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, a Women's Rights Movement would not have been imaginable. Leaders of the Women's Rights Movement, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, would not have been able to stand up and be heard as easily without minds already open to the fact that all men should be treated equally. The Women's Rights Movement was not only for African American women, or for Caucasian women, but rather for both races working together. Without the preface of the Civil Rights Movement, the force behind equality for women would not have been nearly as strong. Both movements began with a simple right to vote, which was not easy to obtain for either, and evolved into so much more. Women fought and are still presently fighting for equal pay in the workforce, and annually this is improving. Just last year, females made 77 cents to a males dollar, which, surprisingly is better than it has been in the past. This battle is fought also by minorities, including that of African Americans. Both movements are still very active, and have much room to improve. The force behind the movements improves day to day and with even more support, every person, no matter race or gender, will be treated equally.



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"discrimination." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Jan. 2008. <>.

"prohibition." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Jan. 2008. <>.

"equity." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Jan. 2008. <>.

"unalienable." WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 31 Jan. 2008. <>.

"workforce." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 31 Jan. 2008. <>.

"Women's Rights Today." February 6, 2008 [[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|[[|]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

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Morgan, Chad. "Remembering the Civil Rights Movement Heros." February 3, 2008

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