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In What Ways Were the Labor Union and Civil Rights Movements Complementary

Autor:   •  July 2, 2016  •  Essay  •  803 Words (4 Pages)  •  587 Views

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The 20th century American history was characterized by the extensively active struggles for liberalism, civil rights, and equality. The period from 1940 to 1975 in specific was where two most influential powers among these struggles, labor union movements and civil right movements meet. It was a period of Martin Luther King Jr., of Malcom X, of Alice Paul and of A. Philip Randolph. Scholarly reviews of this part of the American history reveal that the simultaneous development of labor union and civil right movement, and the fact that civil right movements yield more fruitful results are no accidental phenomena. In fact, the two movements both work together and in conflict with a paradoxical relationship. Labor unions and civil right movements coincide and even complement each other in both the aim for rights and equality, as well as the means of organized unity that exerted bottom-up impacts to shape the society. However, they also stand in conflicts with each other in their political and ideological stands of socialism and liberalism.

At their fundaments, labor unions and civil rights movements have much in common, which easily join the two in alliance. It is needless to state that the tradition of emphasis on freedom has rooted deeply in American history, and the period between 1940 to 1975 was another waves of climax for the struggles for freedom. The active movements were perhaps inspired by the increasing claims of freedom by the United States on the international stage. During and after WWII, the US has claimed numerous times in the name of freedom to extend both aids and influences to other countries.In response to this claim of freedom, the people of America have risen to reflect on the limited freedom they enjoyed, and thus the hypocrisy in America’s claim. The most extensive focus of the activists at this part of history is the equality of freedom but not just freedom itself. For the labor unions, this aim for freedom, like that pursued by the assassinated working class hero Jock Yablonski, was for the equal freedom of jobs and the rights of fair payments for the workers; whereas for the civil right activists, freedom can take various meanings in different focuses such as black rights or feminism, but in general all in the lines of equal rights and liberty to all people as well.

What makes labor unions and civil right movements complementary to each other is more than the similarity in objectives, but the methods of use as well.


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