Role of Black Women in Civil Rights and Liberty Movement
Throughout history, we can see that women have fewer privileges as compared to the men. They have fewer opportunities in the society and in civil rights. Women were tasks to do household chores and do the chores for the men, especially their husband. Racial discrimination is another issue that separates black women from the whites. There is an assumption that exists among the whites that black people are less potent compared to them in every aspect. Many struggles have been done by some strong women to be able to fight for justice and freedom and to gain equality in the society.
Some of achievements that women have accomplished are the right to vote and the privilege to access education. At present times, women could walk equally as the men, but there are some incidences where discrimination can still be reflected. Maybe it remains as remainder of the past history. Let me present some perspective about women to be able to be given sufficient idea on how women were treated even before. Women were viewed as a source of life. They are responsible to take care of the family as well as for the growth of the society. Women are the one responsible to give birth to every human being.
However, women were always depicted as the weaker sex. In most societies, domestic chores were assigned to the women and it is the men who do the heavier task. Women were also conceived as major source of temptation. For example, Greek mythology presented Pandora, a woman that opened the prohibited box and brought curses to the mankind. This story has similarities to the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, wherein Eve was the one who insisted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Early Roman law believes that women were inferior to men. Hinduism in India required women to obey men.
Women were not given the right to own properties and widow could not marry again. In most family setting, male children were also much favored than the females. During the earlier times, women were given secondary priority in terms of education. The men are given the priority. Women could attend classes if there is enough room in the classroom. Women were not also allowed to work outside home. Their work is bound to be inside the house. Later on women were allowed to enter colleges and universities. They were also entitled to do jobs outside their house.
Women can have a profession that is allowed only for the men before. Women were also prohibited to vote before. In 1920, election has opened its door for the women in the United States. One of the most notable participation of women in the United States history is the establishment of movements to free the slaves during the Civil War. Slaves were mostly constituted by the blacks. During that time, women were not given attention when they are voicing out their insights on a certain issue. Sarah GrimkA(c) and Angelina GrimkA(c) were activists that fight for abolitionism and women’s rights.
They wanted to eliminate slavery. Brave enough to speak to the public, they talk about the drawbacks of slavery. They were given criticism since women are not given respect when they speak in the public, especially their topic is a controversial issue. They shared their experiences about slavery. Upon the victory in Civil War, women abolitionists expected that they would gain success from the ideology that they are fighting for. However, the amendments resulted to gratification for the blacks’ citizenship and suffrage alone. The women were not included as stated in the amendment.
Failure with the result of the amendment, make way for women to formed movement that would take control of the women rights movements. Women rights movement in the 19th century causes the women suffrage to be obtained in the United States. The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution gave way for the establishment of woman suffrage in the 1920. Women played major role in the defense of the nation in times of war. Usually, when we hear the world r evolution, the idea that comes into our mind is that it is the men who work in the background. Women’s contribution on the war was unrecognized.
Women’s role in revolution somewhat fades in the background. There are unseen roles performed by women throughout the history. Most of the roles that women played are domestic works. Women expressed their support by doing traditional female works. During wars, some of the work s done by women were producing good for soldiers, spying on the opponent party , armies’ escort , washing and cooking for the soldiers and sending secret message. Sometimes they disguised as men and fight in the battle. Women have always played a major role in history, although they were treated differently as compared to the opposite sex.
We can see in history that women always fight for their freedom. I haven’t encountered a history such as “men fight for their rights ” because they were abused by the female. In some society, we can still see some women fighting for their rights. The exploration of the African coast and growth of slave trade in Europe enforces the movement of slave trade into the New World. Large number of African slaves was brought including women. Women slaves were designated to perform household tasks. Sufferings and hardships were faced by African women during this period.
As slaves, they were required to follow every instruction of their master without complaining even though the task seems to be inhuman. They were subject to maltreatment and molestation. The number of African women slaves increased. Through time, inter racial marriages were formed. Thus, inter racial marriages resulted to combinations of different traditions. These traditions were passed on t o the next generation. History brought unfortunate outcomes. In return, these unfortunate outcomes resulted to women’s important role in the society to be noticed.
Racial and gender discrimination were found evident on the society. For example, in the military, black women were not allowed to have military official status. However, black women continue their persistence to render service. Susie King Taylor is a Civil War nurse. Mrs. King rendered her service to the Union Army as a black employee. She narrated in her diary about the unequal treatment in the army.
She never received a single buck from the army as service fee. The first colored troops did not receive any pay for eighteen months, and the men had to depend wholly on what they received from the commissary… heir wives were obliged to support themselves and children by washing for the officers, and making cakes and pies which they sold to the boys in camp. Finally, in 1863, the government decided to give them half pay, but the men would accept none of this… They preferred rather to give their services to the state, which they did until 1864, when the government granted them full pay, with all back due pay. I was very happy to know my efforts were successful in camp, and also felt grateful for the appreciation of my service. I gave my services willingly for four years and three months without receiving a dollar.
I was glad, however, to be allowed to go with the regiment, to care for the sick and afflicted comrades. During the Spanish-American War, the yellow fever and typhoid epidemics lead to the hiring of nurses. Because of the epidemic, Namahyoke Curtis was given the responsibility to recruit nurses. She hired 32 black women. These women were hired because they have survived the disease. In the Spanish-American war, an estimation of about 80 black women has taken risk to be able to serve during the war. Due to the increasing public pressure, many black women were coerced to enter the Army or Navy Nurse Corps.
The first step to be able to be accepted into the corps is to first enroll in the American Red Cross. By doing so, 18 black women were assigned in the corps. As soon as the cessations of hostilities halt, the nurses were released from service. Later, black women nurses insisted that a stable place must be establish for them. The blacks were given chance to enter the nurse corps on January 1941. However, the slot is only limited to 56. The Fair Employment Practices initiate the move to eliminate racial discrimination in the defense program. Another amendment was introduced by Frances Payne Bolton, a congresswoman form Ohio.
This amendment aims to bar racial bias. Subsequently, 2000 cadets were then allowed to enter the Cadet Nurse Corps. Finally, the Navy dropped its color ban on January 25, 1945. Through positive action and changes in policies, black women were given more privilege than it used to be. It was reflected during the Vietnam and Korean wars where they are allowed to take part. Some slave states seceded from the United States in 1861. They were afraid that slavery might be abolished. Meanwhile in 1865, the 13th amendment of the US Constitution ended slavery. It also aims to provide job and education for the blacks.
Schools were also found to teach the black people to read and write. Opposition to this amendment was exhibited by some whites. They feared that cheap labor might be abolished especially when the blacks acquired knowledge through education. Black teachers were constantly treated with violence. There were incidences where rocks where thrown at the black teachers. Despite the threats, the black teachers still manage to teach for the sake of the other black people. The church and the school play as the important institutions for the life of the blacks during that time. Women were largely involved in both institutions.
Women assumed leadership roles especially in schools. There are several black women who played major role in fighting for justice and civil rights. One of those women is Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born a slave but soon find her way to be freed from slavery. As the name “Moses of her people” suggests, she was considered as the voice of her fellow. She led her fellow slaves along the Underground Railroad. It is a secret network located in Maryland for runaway slaves who were traveling to the north to be free. She never bear in mind that she will be caught by slave hunters. She always thinks about the sake of her fellow.
She became s leader in the abolitionist movement. Some of her contribution includes being a nurse, which she took part in during the Civil War. She succeeded in her struggles. After the outbreak of the Civil War, she voluntarily gave her service as a soldier, a spy and a nurse. She was born in Dorchester Country, Maryland. She was born as a slave. Like other slaves in the United States, her exact birthplace and date was unknown. Historians estimated her birth date and they come up with different estimation. Kate Larson proposed the year to be 1822. Jean Humez predicted that the best estimate would be 1820.
Catherine Clinton stated that Tubman reported that she was born sometimes in 1825, while her death certificate indicated that it was on 1815. On her gravestone, it was listed that she was born in 1820. She escaped from slavery in 1849. She traveled night and days. Fellow blacks in Delaware assisted here when she reach the Delaware border. From these pieces of information, we can see that there really is color discrimination. Imagine, people don’t care about a black’s birth date. The blacks were not equally treated. They were treated very harshly. So, if you are born as a black, you will not enjoy the same privilege as the whites.
So, this implies that the blacks during that time are not celebrating their birthdates and other occasions. For the slaves, they are born to be a slave. They are born to serve their masters. I feel so sorry for the way they were treated. While doing this research, I resorted to the internet to find some documents that will help me to give conclusion on this topic. Based on the pictures that I found, the blacks were really mistreated. There are photographs reflecting how the blacks were treated. One of the pictures there depicted a black woman slave, who has profusion of wounds and cuts.
He got this from the punishment laid down to her by his master for a modest fault. Slaves were also instructed task that very inhumane. I conducted a simple survey to find out if there is a difference on how black and white are perceived. I choose ten children ranging from 8 – 12 years old. I asked them a simple question, “Which color of skin do you prefer, to be black or to be white. ” I choose children as my respondent, since biases and judgments due to external forces are reduced. As I expected, majority of the children prefer white over black. Eight of the children preferred white and two said they have equal preference.
None preferred black. This simple study reveals that even in childhood, a child has a notion that whites are better than blacks. Maybe, this perspective is a reflection of the external environment and the people that surrounds a person. Therefore, I conclude that biases regarding colors cannot be eliminated instantly. The way we think and act is based on our own processes of socialization. Before, the blacks would just admit that they are inferior to the whites. Since, they are already accustomed with the outlook laid on them by the society. Nowadays, many blacks have conquered the limitations set to them by the society.
Blacks have excelled in different fields. For example, in the showbiz and music industry, blacks have stood out. Many of the renowned artist in our time have black complexion. These are implications, that due to the modern times and advent of modern viewpoint, racisms was reduced. Since, we are now living in a global age where any race can compete with the others. Black women exemplified their leadership skills in their struggles to fight for their rights.
In Minnesota, the civil right activist Nellie Stone Johnson led the people that won membership for the black workers at St. Paul Athletic Club. Mary Church Terell was also a women right activist. She devoted her time to the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She led the organization in their struggle to fight for the black women’s privilege to vote. She also formed the Federation of Afro- American Woman with the assistance of Josephine Ruffin. This organization gave way to the establishment of another organization called the National Association of Colored Women. She became the first president of the organization. The organization instituted day nurseries, kindergartens and orphanages.
She also found the National Association of College Women in 1896. Subsequently, the college was known as National Association of College Women. She worked actively in the suffrage movement. She was also active in the Women’s Republican League in 1920. This was the first time that American women were allowed to vote. Fanie Lou Hamer played an important part in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She became the Vice- Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She gained her reputation as a persuasive speaker and a defender in civil rights movement.
Meanwhile, during one of the sermon by Rev. James Bevel, the blacks were appealed by Rev. Bevel to register to vote. However, the blacks who registered in the south only turned out to face atrocities. Hamer was the first volunteer to vote. She was not petrified by the threats to her. She was also arrested because of her participation in activist campaign. While she was in jail, she was beaten almost to the point of death. After several days, she was released from jail. She continued to work for the Freedom Democrats and for local civil rights causes in Mississippi.
They are just some of the many examples of black women who have experience the cruelties of being a black woman. But, they refused to accept their status quo in the society. Rather they mobilized their fellow by leading them to awaken their sleeping visions. History is cruel on its own ways. First, by examining the status of women in every society, it is evident that women are treated as inferior to the men. Next issue is color. Blacks are treated inferior to the whites. So, what about black women? Does this mean that they suffer more than they should be? They are not only women, but they are also black.
Some historians projected that black women plays major role in the society. So, what are they referring to by saying major role? Being a nurse, a domestic helper, a slave? Is that, what they mean by major role? What I am trying to say is that, they did not actually play major role. Rather, they play minor role. It just appears that they play major role because they are black women, so to speak. For me the black women who played major role in the society are the black women who make changes in the society. These are the women that assumed leadership position despite the differences that the society is posing on them.
Of course, no reform movement will be established if there is justice in the society. Reform movements were formed because some bright black women do not want to be treated like the way they were treated. In this world, they want equal rights. That’s why they were honored in history, because they made something significant. Nowadays, blacks and whites share equal rights. This is the result of the pains and hardships that many black women have encountered in the past. Let us be thankful for these women who exerted effort to make this world a world with justice and freedom.