“The laws have caught up with our conscience. What remains is to give life to the law.”
Even after the Supreme Court ended segregation in schools with Brown vs. Board of Education ruling there was still segregation in schools. Segregation was most evident in the school system The government had to use the military to enforce desegregation laws in schools. In 1984 the University of Texas only one black student belong to fraternity affiliated with the Interfraternity Council. Schools basically ignored the desegregation laws that were put in place. Things were so bad that the Supreme Court declared that segregated schools had the duty to eliminate racial discrimination and the courts required mandatory busing to integrate schools system that once had been segregated by law.
“Its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which forbade states from banning abortions during the first six months of pregnancy, brought about an enormous change in women’s lives.” (Pg 264)
In the end of the 1960’s and the begging of the 1970’s, there were many dramatic changes in both American domestic affairs and foreign diplomacy. In the American internal situation, there were many objections and demonstrations for equal human rights, and women’s movement had big impact on the American life at that time. In 1968, notable objection against the Miss America contest raised by the organization named “Women’s Liberation”. It protested that the contest was racism due to no black finalist and animated the Vietnam war because the winner would visit Vietnam to meet American soldiers. This protest was argued broadly for few years. Hence, in the begging of the 1960’s, only two out of three women did not think themselves victims of segregation, but by 1970, half of women agreed with it. Moreover, in 1973, the decision in Roe v Wade affected creation of state laws, and New York was the first state to enact the abortion law.
“In 1966, three hundred largely female activists, frustrated with the inaction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in countering discrimination on the basis of sex, founded the National Organization of Women (NOW) to fight for equal rights of women and improvements in their daily lives, including more equal marriages and better daycare.”
Freeman uses NOW as an illustration of women’s frustrations at the time. The creation of NOW due to the inaction of the EEOC implies that perhaps the EEOC was male dominant in power and thinking. Women needed an organization that better represented them by first hand, direct control. The creation of NOW also stressed how important it was for not just opportunities, but also on the condition of equality. Their demands for desegregated job listings show this.
” The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act encouraged women to press for equality and greater opportunity at work, at a time when their labor force participation was continuing to rise. In 1966, three hundred largely female activists, frustrated with the inaction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act Commission (EEOC) in countering discrimination on the basis of sex, founded the National Organization of Women (NOW)…” (Freeman, pg. 262)
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 propelled a time for change in America as a whole for not only minorities, but for women as well. The National Organization of Women (NOW) fought for equal rights in the work place, equal marriages and even day care. According to the text Betty Friedan from New York was elected as the first president of the organization, but was mostly organized out of Detroit. By the year 1975, nearly half of the women worked for wages and many jobs were available because of the Vietnam War. There were still problems however, including low pay and still ongoing discrimination by men in the workplace. Not too many women were educated and performing high level jobs, but this would change in modern society. As Freeman later discusses in the chapter, NOW was never satisfied and many other movements spurred as a result for equality. One of which was the Women’s Liberation Movement, which promoted more equality. Freeman makes it important to understand that the 1960s was a time of rapid change throughout the country. All though African American activists and leaders made a huge headline, women were also a part of this dramatic change of the 1960s.
Page 262 from American Empire.
“Fighting sexual discrimination in employment often meant challenging gender stereotypes.”
The mention of this quote summarizes the entire event of the Women’s Movement. There are policies in place like the EEOC but those policies did nothing for the women in that era. They had to fight stereotypes and sexual discrimination. Freeman included this because it covers what that part of the book is about. It goes with his argument that women during that era were treated differently.
“Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), “welfare” in the common lexicon… did not address the causes of deprivation but only sought to alleviate the plight of the poor (and lessen the social threat they might pose).”
This long established program was plagued by “complex regulations and demeaning practices” which made it hard for women to enroll. The Welfare Rights movement lead to states loosing regulations on the AFDC application process. This lead to an increase in families receiving AFDC benefits.
Nixon proposed a minimum annual income to replace AFDC, which he deemed a failure. The public generally bought into the misinformed notion that the majority of welfare recipients were black women, putting many people, particularly in the south against Welfare reform. Others believed the proposal was not enough to be considered a replacement of AFDC benefits. Ultimately Nixon’s proposal was denied in the Senate.
Nixon’s involvement with Welfare Rights and environmentalism shows that “Nixon did not shy away from the idea of expansive government.”
“At their summit, Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), the first arms control measure that the United States agreed to since the start of the Cold War.”
First of all, the visit was very significant, because no other president (except for Roosevelt) had ever went to the communist USSR before. Since the United States had always feared and fought communism and communistic countries, the “goodwill” visit to one of those countries meant a change in politics. As Freeman said it didn’t mean that the White House became more tolerant to communism, but it did mean that method of fighting it had changed. Instead of confronting each other they decided to be “friends”. If during the Cold War the two countries competed with each other in many aspects like military, science, innovations, etc. So after the visit they actually agreed on not only Arms Limitation Treaty, but on other joint projects in science and trade. For instance, during that visit was created an agreement to import Coca-Cola and created a project to build the first Coca-Cola factory in the USSR, which was completed in 1974 in Novorossiysk. This was a big deal in the USSR.
” Bobbing and weaving in an effort to maintain support from both liberal and conservative wings of the Republican Party.”(p. 267)
After winning the presidential elections in 1968 with a minority of the popular vote and democratic majority in congress limited his action, President Nixon hoped to win democratic supporters for seek reelection. Nixon supported the already established New Deal programs which benefited democrats and took conservative positions on other issues. Making improvements in medicaid, food stamp programs,civil rights and social security. Nixon was also popular for giving up on proposals made by him, such as replacing warfare with an annual minimum income after the senate rejected it and environmental movements which affected the growth of businesses. President Nixon was reelected in the 1972 presidental election, after the Watergate scandal he was forced to resign.
“Often lumped together under the label ‘Black Power,’ these groups, though differing in their programs and beliefs, commonly had all-black memberships; rejected deference to white authority; asserted the right to armed self-defense; stressed black pride, unity, and internationalism; had acute understanding of the daily problems of ghetto life; and appealed in particular to urban youth, who were in many cases drawn by the discipline and purposefulness they provided.” p. 258
African-American movement was exemplified by The Nation of Islam and Black Panther Party. These so-called “Black Power” groups propagated nationalist ideas and did not shy away from violent resistance. Their primary success was in mobilization of black population all over the country. African-Americans were winning unprecedented amount of political seats. Increased awareness and a sense of purpose in black youth was a result of these groups. They were insuring that the younger generation was growing up resisting racial inequality rather than being used to it. Moreover, the work of “Black Power” groups largely inspired other movements in the 1960s.
“The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commision), soon after being set up by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, found itself swamped by complaints: its first year of operation, nine thousand cases were filed; by 1975, it had seventy-seven thousand. Quickly, it fell far behind in addressing them.”
– Joshua Freeman, Pg. 271
The struggles the EEOC faced presented a grim reality that equality in the United States was not something everyone saw eye to eye on. The presence of a government institution such as the EEOC, meant to help the Black population with fair employment opportunities, was not enough to convince many citizens that equality was to be recognized as the law of the land. With thousands of lawsuits and many companies continuing to racially discriminate the Black community from its workforce, high hopes of equality quickly diminished to continuous tension. The government was clearly unable to handle the large pushback of many of its citizens. Joshua Freeman likely presented these statistics to give a clear picture of the struggles the country was facing as it attempted to ‘rebrand’ itself as a truly equal nation.