Basic Oppression

What is Oppression? The word oppression is a prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. The state of being subject to unfair treatment or management. The mental pressure of distress. Why are there Women’s Rights? What about the LGBTQ community? The Civil Rights? These groups formed because there is oppression in these groups. Let’s look at Women’s Rights—a movement created by four women over a cup of tea in the United States. The group’s purpose is to fight for equal rights and opportunities and greater personal freedom for women.

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law.
  • Women were not allowed to vote.
  • Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation.
  • Married women had no property rights.
  • Husbands had legal power over responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could beat or imprison them with impunity.
  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women.
  • Women had to pay property taxes, although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes.
  • Most occupations were closed to women, and when women did work, they pay only a fraction of what men worked.
  • Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law.
  • Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students.
  • With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in church affairs.
  • As a result, women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect and were made dependent on men.

When you are revisiting the word oppression definition, I read many of these things just a moment ago rule under the word oppression. Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law. Women were not allowed to vote; married women had no property rights; it falls under a prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Women had to pay property taxes, although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes; most occupations were closed to women, and when women did work, they paid only a fraction of what men worked. Oppression falls under the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control. Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect and were made dependent on men. The last part of the oppression definition falls under mental pressure or distress. The backlash when the Women’s Rights group introduced legislation at a convention, multiple attacks came from the press and women who attended the convention. The press’s attack on the articles produced made the women from the convention rethink their position. Still, the negative views about the women’s call for expanded rights were so livid and widespread that it had a positive impact far beyond anything organizers could have hoped. So, the movement developed to get the American civil rights vote, and the women’s rights won the civil rights vote in 1920. However, just because they won did not mean it is a time to end. They continued to march, petition, and lobby for women’s suffrage. A woman named Alice Paul drafted an Equal Rights Amendment for the United States Constitution in 1923. This draft started a second wave of activism in the 1960s. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, and the Civil Rights Act prevented employment discrimination based on sex, race, religion, and national origin. After the Civil Rights Act was passed, there were new issues that came up. The Women’s Rights group wanted to create women’s shelters and rape crisis hotlines to care for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. They also wanted to develop child care centers so women can work outside the home. The group wanted to work with women’s healthcare professionals to provide birth control and family planning counseling. And the group wanted to offer abortion services for low-income women. After the group planned all of these ideas, the Equal Rights Amendment is re-introduced.

The LGBTQ community is another group that suffers from oppression. June 28, 1969, a series of events between the police and the LGBTQ protesters stretch for six days. Setting it up, Stonewall Inn is a gay bar in New York City. Back then, it was illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person, and homosexuality was a criminal offense. On (The Night of) June 28, plainclothes officers from the New York Police department arrived at Stonewall Inn to raid with a search warrant, which authorized them to investigate the illegal sale of alcohol. One lady tried to slide out of a patrol car, and on the third time, the cop bodily heaved her in, and the community accused the officer of police brutality. It’s from this day forward is when the LGBTQ community started marching in New York. The purpose of the group is to demonstrate equal rights. The FBI doesn’t need to report hate crimes. It shows an incomplete picture of hate crimes and how they can stack up to others, especially in the LGBTQ community. The Human Rights Watch works for the LGBTQ community to bring rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people with activists to representing a diversity of identities and issues. Human Rights Watch group documents and expense abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide. It includes torture, killing and executions, arrests under unjust laws, unequal treatment, censorship, medical abuses, discrimination in health and jobs and housing, domestic violence, abuses against and denial of family rights and recognition.

The Civil Rights Movement aims to dedicate activism for equal rights and treatment of African Americans in the United States. In 1868, the 14th Amendment gave Black people equal protection under the law. In 1870, the 15th Amendment granted Black American men the right to vote. Whites were unhappy about this, mainly in the South because Blacks are now on an equal playing field. To marginalize Black people, keep them separated when Black leaders reconstructed (reinterrogate Southern states from Confederacy) to erase the work done. Jim Crow Laws were established in the South in the 19th century. Blacks couldn’t use the same public facilities as whites, live in the same towns, or go to the same school as whites. Interracial marriages were illegal, and Black people couldn’t vote because they could not pass a voter literacy test. Jim Crow Laws were not adopted in the Nothern States, but they still experienced discrimination at jobs, buying a house, or getting an education. Laws were passed in some states limiting voting rights for Black Americans. Before WWII, Blacks worked as low-wage farmers, factory workers, domestics, or servants. When the war-related boomed, blacks were discouraged from joining the military. Thousands of Blacks threatened to march in Washington to demand equal employment rights. An executive order was issued and allowed national defense jobs and other government jobs to all Americans regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin. Tuskegee Airmen broke racial barriers because the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps earned more than 150 distinguished Flying Courses. An Executive Order ended discrimination in the military when the Cold War began. And then, Rosa Parks happened. Parks refused to give up her seat and was arrested. The incident sparked outrage and support. Parks became the “mother of modern-day civil rights movement.” Parks’ courage incited the MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association) boycott, which lasted 381 days. On November 14, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled segregation seating was unconstitutional. In 1954, the Supreme Court made segregation illegal in public schools in Brown v. BOA.

The ruling made this a significant momentum shift in Civil Rights. As always, when you are in the right direction, something always happens. On September 3, 1957, nine Black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, arrived at Central High School to begin classes. Instead, the Arkansas National Guard met the Little Rock Nine (ordered by Governor Orval Fabus) and a screaming, threatening mob. A couple of weeks later, they tried again and made it inside but was removed for their safety when the violence started. President Eisenhower put federal troops to escort the Little Rock Nine to and from classes at Central High. Students still faced harassment and prejudice. These efforts brought a significant need for attention to desegregation and fueled protests on both sides of the issue. On September 9, 1957, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law. The purpose of this law is to make clear about voting. Before Eisenhower signed it into law, it was difficult for Black citizens to vote. The literacy tests were confusing, misleading, and nearly impossible to pass. After Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act, an incident on February 1, 1960, in Greensboro, NC, four college students stood against segregation. The college students refused to leave when Woolworth’s lunch counter refused to serve them. The next several days, many people joined their cause. They were known as the Greensboro sit-in.

Some of the protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing. Protesters launched a boycott of all segregated lunch counters until the owners caved and the original four students were finally served at Woolworth’s lunch counter. The efforts established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to encourage all students to get involved in Civil Rights Movement. On May 4, 1961, 13 Freedom Riders, seven Blacks and six White activists, wanted to test the 1960 decision by the Supreme Court in Baynton v. Virginia. The ruling is that segregation of interstate transportation facilities unconstitutional. The Freedom riders went on a bus tour of the American South to protest segregated bus terminals. Freedom riders got a ton of international attention, so the Freedom Rider expected some violence.

On Mother’s Day, 1961, the bus got to Anniston, AL, where a mob greeted them, and the crowd threw a bomb into the bus. The Freedom Riders escaped but got beaten badly. After finding a bus driver, the journey continued under police escort on May 20, arranged by Robert F. Kennedy (John’s brother) and Governor John Patterson. After the police escort left, the bus was attacked again. On May 24, 1961, a group of Freedom Riders reached Jackson, MS; the group was arrested for trespassing in a whites-only facility and sentenced to 30 days in jail. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction. It was brought to the court’s attention by the NAACP what was going on, so the bus ride continued. In the fall of 1961, the pressure was brought on to the Kennedy administration; the Interstate Commerce Commission issued a regulation prohibiting segregation in interstate transit terminals. Then, the famous march on Washington movement took place on August 28, 1963. It was organized by Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and MLK. Many as 200,000 people of all races met in Washington, D.C., for a peaceful march. The purpose is to force civil rights and establishing job equality for all. I have a dream speech became the slogan for equality and freedom.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, initiated by President John F. Kennedy before his assassination into law on July 2. The incident of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when 600 peaceful demonstrators marched to Selma to Montgomery after the killing of a Black civil rights activist, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a white police officer and to encourage legislation to enforce the 15th Amendment. When the protesters neared the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were blocked by Alabama state and local police sent by Governor George Wallace, which by the way, is a vocal opponent of desegregation. Protesters refused to stand down, and protesters moved forward and were viciously beaten and tear-gassed by police. Dozen of protesters were hospitalized. MLK pushed for nonviolent protests and eventually gained federal protection for another march. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965. He took the Civil Rights Act of 1964 several steps further by banning all voter literacy tests and provided federal examiners in certain voting jurisdictions. The law also allowed the Attorney General to contest state and local taxes. Poll taxes were unconstitutional in Harper v. Virginia, the state board of elections in 1966. The civil rights movement suffered tragic consequences. On February 21, 1965, former Nation of Islam leader and Organization of Afro-American Unity founder Malcolm X was assassinated at a rally. On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient MLK was assassinated outside his hotel room. Looting and riots followed, which put pressure on the Johnson administration to push through other civil rights laws. Then, the Fair Housing Act became law on April 11, 1968, days after King’s assassination. It prevented housing discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, and religion. This last legislation was the final legislation enacted during the civil rights era. The Civil Rights movement era is an important one because Black Americans and leadership put in tons of effort and risks to put us today.

References:

  1. History of the Women’s Rights Movement – National Women’s …. https://nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/history-of-the-womens-rights-movement/
  2. Civil Rights Movement: Timeline, Key Events & Leaders …. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement
  3. LGBT Rights. LGBT Rights | Human Rights Watch. (n.d.). https://www.hrw.org/topic/lgbt-rights#.