For any event that has happened before our time, we have very little knowledge about. That is why primary resources are important: we get to see glimpse of what is was like in the past. Women’s Rights Movement is certainly one of those things. We know that women did not have the same rights as men did. Women’s gender role was very much set, and anything outside of that was considered ludicrous. But even after reading many different texts related to the issue, one cannot help but wonder, “how bad was it, really?” That is why Johnnie Tillmon’s quote in Howard Zinn’s book is important. Tillmon was a black woman, who she described herself as poor, fat, and middle-aged.
‘Welfare’s like a traffic accident. It can happen to anybody, but especially it happens to women. And that is why welfare is a women’s issue. For a lot of middle-class women in this country, Women’s Liberation is a matter of concern. For women on welfare it’s a matter of survival.’
Her fight for Women’s Liberation was not a fight to achieve an ideal. It was a matter of survival. As Zinn states in the book, the question was even more immediate for some women.
Evan Haney was an Oklahoma Indian who served in the military during the Vietnam War. From his testimony at the “Winder Soldier Investigations”, we get to see the change within the Indian society regarding their roots and identity.
‘I got to know the Vietnamese people and I learned they were just like us…. There were no books on Indian history, not even in the library…. But I knew something was wrong. I started reading and learning my own culture…. I saw the Indian people at their happiest when they went to Alcatraz or to Washington to defend their fishing rights. They at last felt like human beings.’
Did the U.S. government intentionally run programs to make the Indians forget about their roots? If so, it was definitely for their selfish interest, just like the Vietnam War. From Haney’s testimony, we can see how the U.S. government have not changed in some ways, and how Indians started to gain more awareness of their roots and rights.