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Women's Role in Civil Rights

Updated on February 2, 2013

I was not aware of the major involvement of women in the struggle for civil rights. Furthermore I had no idea they were more involved then men. Black women were the majority of the civil rights movement and struggle for equality. The reasons for this made sense to me. Black men back then were a lot more vulnerable to attacks and lynching’s if they spoke out. All the owners needed was a reason to kill them off, after all they were not seen as people but as property, something that could be brought and sold at their leisure. Women also had a greater sense of community and religious tie. They understood the importance of education and its role in freeing and empowering black people. Education as stated in the text is the key to helping children and the community reach equality. It was for this reason slaves were not allowed to read and be educated. Slave owners knew deep down, by suppressing them and not allowed them to learn and be educated they could not revolt and realize the inequality. The black community would instead accept and live with the circumstances they were born with. Enslavement would then become normal and the black people would not know any different.

Education was the reason many of the women were able to motivate one another and others to protest and fight against the equality. Later on as slaves became more knowledgeable, equality and basic human rights were foremost on the agenda. The Civil rights act 1964 brought a massive push for equality. Voting rights were implemented. Prior to this act, officials were appointed and not elected. This brought forth a way for black women and men to gain political positions. Having colored officials could mean major change in legislations and laws. Equality for blacks was not such an impossibility. Not only men were moving up, women began to take part in politics, theater, military, sports and education on a level that was unbelievable. Women such as Fannie Lou Hammer played such major roles in the civil rights movement; it created a wave of motivation for others to follow. This wave even reached Hollywood and affected Ruby Dee who pushed equality all the way to WashingtonDC. The third woman we reviewed this week was Maya Angelou, who received a very prestigious task of reading one of her poems at Bill Clinton’s inaugural presentation, a task that only one other person has been asked to do in this century. Her poetry and academic work has led such modern titians as Oprah Winfrey to honor and draw motivation from her. Angelou has gained respect and admiration from such heavy weight activists like Martin Luther King Jr, who asked her to head the Office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Black women through education and perseverance have successfully fought for equality. Equal rights for black women and men has not been an easy battle, a struggle that many believe is not over. Through these women and their stories, our generation can be motivated to continue pushing for equality and fair treatment of blacks as well as minorities. Overall I learned how key education is and what a major part it played in initiating the civil rights movement.


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