Women, African Americans, Civil Rights Acts & More

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6.2 & 6.3 Brown v. Board of Education (I, II)

In 1954, four separate cases were arguing that Plessy's "separate but equal" doctrine, especially in public school systems, was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, and they suggested that the Court integrate schools to make them equal. The Brown v. Board of Education ruling shocked the nation when it proclaimed that seprate but equal was no longer going to be considered constitutional. A year later, in Brown v. Board of Education II (1955) the Court ruled that all racially segregated systems had to integrate immediately. An Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus, refused to follow the mandates. Faubus surrounded Little Rock’s Central High School with National Guardsmen to prevent African American students from entering. This eventually lead to President Dwight D. Eisenhower sending troops to protect the nine African American students at the school.

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6.4 Women's Rights

The National Organization for Women (NOW) formed because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failed to enforce laws prohibiting sex discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 claimed to prohibit race and sex discrimination, but women activists wanted full equality which they pushed for in the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Amendment stated that equality of rights under the law wouldn't be denied by the US or a state because of sex. Also, it gave Congress the power to enforce those things through legislation. In 1973, Roe vs. Wade ruled that women had the right to privacy, for example to terminate a pregnancy. This case helped persuade more states that the ERA and privacy rights were linked, so more states ratified the amendment. By 1978, 35 states ratified the ERA but it still wasn't enough for ratification and the Amendment failed. Meanwhile, Title VII and IX were successful in expanding women's rights in the areas of public schools and sports teams and sexual harassment laws.

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6.5 American Indians

In 1887, the Dawes Act marked when the government began supporting assimilation over the separation of American Indians. All Indians were given land within the reservations, and the rest of it was sold to whites, decreasing reservation lands from 140 million acres to 47 million acres. Indians became full citizens and were given the right to vote in 1924. In the 1960's, Indians first began to mobilize and formed groups such as the NARF (Native American Rights Fund) which was founded in 1970. They have achieved important victories in the areas of hunting, fishing, and land rights, and they are also working to gain back lands that they lost, some even over 200 years ago.

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6.5 Yick Wo v. Hopkins

Discrimination against Asian and Pacific Islanders increased over time in America, and in 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which restricted immigration. In 1886, however, this trend began to change with the case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins. Chinese weren't allowed to practice many professions, but they were allowed to have laundry businesses in California, and so many of them did. San Francisco was particularly filled with laundry businesses because of it, and so the city banned all cleaning businesses that operated out of wooden buildings, most of which were operated by Chinese. The Court ruled in favor of the Chinese and stated that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

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6.1 & 6.2 Civil Rights Act of 1875

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was designed to give equal access to public places such as theaters and give African Americans guaranteed jury service. But, in 1877 when Reconstruction ended, the southern states quickly moved in on African Americans and limited their voting rights and discriminated in other ways with the Jim Crow Laws. These laws required segregation in restaurants, railroads, public schools and facilities, and theaters. Jim Crow Laws even made interracial marriage illegal. The reason why the discrimination laws were not going against the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was because of a series of Civil Rights Cases in 1883. The five separate cases were convicting individuals of violating the Act, but the Supreme Court ruled that it was not their place to prohibit private acts of discrimination, rather only on the state or government level. Over ten years later, in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court ruled that the Louisiana Law of separate but equal was constitutional, which caused a trend in the South of new laws allowing for discrimination against African Americans. Also, this caused an even greater expansion of the Jim Crow Laws to the point where it just became an accepted way of life for people living in the South.