The New Wave of Feminism
Second-wave feminism distinguished itself from earlier women’s movements in that it expanded to include issues of sexuality, family, and reproductive rights.
Outline the key events in the development of the second wave feminist movement
- In contrast to earlier women’s movements, the second wave of feminism in the 1960s broadened the debate of women’s rights to encompass a wider range of issues, including sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities.
- Just as the abolitionist movement made 19th-century women more aware of their lack of power, the protest movements of the 1960s inspired many white and middle-class women to create their own organized movement for greater rights.
- Betty Friedan ‘s book The Feminine Mystique, credited as having sparked second-wave feminism, disputed the post-World War II expectation of women as suburban housewives.
- Second-wave feminism radically changed the face of western culture, leading to marital rape laws, the establishment of rape crisis and battered women’s shelters, significant changes in custody and divorce law, and widespread integration of women into sports activities and the workplace. Following legislative victories in the early 1960s, Friedan joined with others to create the National Organization for Women (NOW), which spurred further legal victories that extended full Affirmative Action rights to women.
- Second-Wave Feminism: A period of women’s rights activity in the United States during the early 1960s and lasting through the late 1990s.
- National Organization for Women: The largest feminist organization in the United States, founded in 1966, with a membership of 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
- Betty Friedan: (1921 – 2006) An American writer, activist, and feminist; a leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States and author of The Feminine Mystique, which is often credited with sparking the “second wave” of American feminism in the 20th century.
The Rise of Second-Wave Feminism
Women’s movements of the late 19th and early 20th century (later known as first-wave feminism) focused primarily on overturning legal obstacles to gender equality, such as voting rights and property rights. In contrast, the second wave of feminism in the 1960s, inspired and galvanized by the Civil Rights Movement of the same era, broadened the debate of women’s rights to encompass a wider range of issues, including sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities. Second-wave feminism radically changed the face of western culture, leading to marital rape laws, the establishment of rape crisis and battered women’s shelters, significant changes in custody and divorce law, and widespread integration of women into sports activities and the workplace. It also tried and failed to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
On the national scene, the Civil Rights Movement was creating a climate of protest and claiming rights and new roles in society for people of color. Women played significant roles in organizations fighting for civil rights such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); however, they often found that those organizations, enlightened as they might be about racial issues or the war in Vietnam, could still be influenced by patriarchal ideas of male superiority. Two members of SNCC, Casey Hayden and Mary King, presented some of their concerns about their organization’s treatment of women in a document entitled “On the Position of Women in SNCC.”
Just as the Abolitionist Movement made nineteenth-century women more aware of their lack of power and encouraged them to form the first women’s rights movement, the protest movements of the 1960s inspired many white and middle-class women to create their own organized movement for greater rights. Not all were young women engaged in social protest. Many were older, married women who found the traditional roles of housewife and mother unfulfilling. In 1963, writer and feminist Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in which she contested the post-World War II belief that it was women’s destiny to marry and bear children. The perfect nuclear family image depicted and strongly marketed at the time, she wrote, did not reflect happiness and was rather degrading for women. Friedan’s book was a best-seller and began to raise the consciousness of many women who agreed that homemaking in the suburbs sapped them of their individualism and left them unsatisfied.
Key Events in the Second Wave of Feminism
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion, also prohibited, in Title VII, discrimination on the basis of sex. Ironically, protection for women had been included at the suggestion of a Virginia congressman in an attempt to prevent the act’s passage; his reasoning seemed to be that, while a white man might accept that African Americans needed and deserved protection from discrimination, the idea that women deserved equality with men would be far too radical for any of his male colleagues to contemplate. Nevertheless, the act passed, although the struggle to achieve equal pay for equal work continues today.
Medical science also contributed a tool to assist women in their liberation. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill, freeing women from the restrictions of pregnancy and childbearing. Women who were able to limit, delay, and prevent reproduction were freer to work, attend college, and delay marriage. Within five years of the pill ’s approval, some six million women were using it. The pill was the first medicine ever intended to be taken by people who were not sick. Even conservatives saw it as a possible means of making marriages stronger by removing the fear of an unwanted pregnancy and improving the health of women. Its opponents, however, argued that it would promote sexual promiscuity, undermine the institutions of marriage and the family, and destroy the moral code of the nation. By the early 1960s, thirty states had made it a criminal offense to sell contraceptive devices.
The Equal Pay Act
In 1963, Kennedy’s commission released a report detailing discrimination against women in every aspect of American life and outlined plans to achieve equality. Specific recommendations for women in the workplace included fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable childcare. The Equal Pay Act at this time proposed, but had no way of enforcing, equality of pay for men and women performing equal work. In addition, it did not cover domestic workers, agricultural workers, executives, administrators, or professionals.
The National Organization for Women
In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed by 28 women—among them Betty Friedan—and proceeded to set an agenda for the feminist movement. Framed by a statement of purpose written by Friedan, who became its first president, the agenda began by proclaiming NOW’s goal to make possible women’s participation in all aspects of American life and to gain for them all the rights enjoyed by men. Among the specific goals was the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (yet to be adopted). The group was the largest women’s group in the United States and pursued its goals through extensive legislative lobbying, litigation, and public demonstrations.
More radical feminists, like their colleagues in other movements, were dissatisfied with merely redressing economic issues and devised their own brand of consciousness-raising events and symbolic attacks on women’s oppression. The most famous of these was an event staged in September 1968 by New York Radical Women. Protesting stereotypical notions of femininity and rejecting traditional gender expectations, the group demonstrated at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to bring attention to the contest’s—and society’s—exploitation of women. The protestors crowned a sheep Miss America and then tossed instruments of women’s oppression, including high-heeled shoes, curlers, girdles, and bras, into a “freedom trash can.” News accounts famously, and incorrectly, described the protest as a “bra burning.” By 1969, the radical organization Redstockings popularized slogans such as “Sisterhood is Powerful” and “The Personal is Political,” which became buzzwords of the feminist movement.
The Sexual Revolution
The sexual revolution of the 1960s marked a shift in thinking about sexuality, as well as a growing acceptance of premarital sex and birth control.
Examine the consequences of the introduction of the birth control pill
- After World War II, the birth control movement had accomplished the goal of making birth control legal, and advocacy for reproductive rights transitioned into a new era that focused on abortion, public funding, and insurance coverage.
- Birth control was legalized following the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, while the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Use of ” the pill ” (oral contraceptives) spread rapidly during the latter part of the 1960s, and was endorsed and distributed by doctors as part of President Johnson’s social reform policy, The Great Society.
- Fear of global overpopulation became a major issue in the 1960s, generating concerns about pollution, food shortages, and quality of life, and leading to well-funded birth control campaigns around the world. The ability for women to control fertility led to a sharp increase in college attendance and graduation rates for women; however, it was also met with a great deal of resistance.
- Opponents of oral contraceptives frequently cite the rise of out-of-wedlock births, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and divorce rates as evidence of the regression of quality of life since the advent of the birth control pill.
- sexual revolution: A specific period in the 1960s and 1970s during which attitudes toward sexual behavior became more tolerant and liberal in Western Europe and the United States.
- Griswold v. Connecticut: A 1965 landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy; the case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives, and by a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the “right to marital privacy.”
- The Pill: A birth control method that includes a combination of an estrogen and a progestin that, when taken orally every day, inhibits female fertility; first approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1960.
The 1960s in the U.S. are often perceived as a period of profound societal change, in which many young, educated, and politically-minded individuals sought to influence the status quo. The quest for autonomy during this time was also characterized by changes toward sexual attitudes, generally referred to as the ” sexual revolution.” Like much of the radicalism of the 1960s, the sexual revolution was most apparent on university campuses.
Changes in Social Norms
The modern consensus is that the sexual revolution in 1960s America was typified by a dramatic shift in traditional values related to sex and sexuality. Sex became more socially acceptable outside of the strict boundaries of heterosexual marriage. For example, studies have shown that, between 1965 and 1975, the number of women who had sex before marriage increased dramatically. Birth control was legalized following the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, while the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. The increased availability of birth control (and the quasi-legalization of abortion in some places) helped reduce the chance that premarital sex would result in unwanted pregnancies. By the mid-1970s, the majority of newly married American couples had experienced sex before marriage.
Similarly, during this time, a culture of ” free love ” emerged. Beginning in San Francisco in the mid-1960s, this culture of “free love” was propagated by thousands of hippies who preached the power of love and the beauty of sex. By the 1970s, it was acceptable for colleges to allow co-educational housing where male and female students mingled freely. Hippies embraced the old slogan of free love from the radical social reformers of other eras.
The Sexual Revolution and “the Pill”
In the early 1950s, philanthropist Katharine McCormick provided funding for biologist Gregory Pincus to develop the birth control pill, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960. “The Pill,” as it came to be known, was extraordinarily popular, and despite worries over possible side effects, by 1962, an estimated 1,187,000 women were using it.
This new contraceptive technology was a key player in forming women’s modern economic role by indirectly prolonging the age at which many women first married. This allowed women to invest in education and become more career-oriented. Soon after the Pill was legalized, there was a sharp increase in college attendance and graduation rates for women. From an economic point of view, the Pill reduced the cost of staying in school. The ability to control fertility without sacrificing sexual relationships allowed women to make long-term educational and career plans.
Women’s rights movements also heralded the Pill as a method of granting women sexual liberation and saw the popularity of the drug as just one signifier of the increasing desire for equality (sexual or otherwise) amongst American women. The Pill and the sexual revolution were therefore an important part of the drive for sexual equality in the 1960s.
Birth Control and Population Control Advocacy
After World War II, the birth control movement had accomplished the goal of making birth control legal, and advocacy for reproductive rights transitioned into a new era that focused on abortion, public funding, and insurance coverage. Birth control advocacy took on a global aspect as organizations around the world began to collaborate. The International Planned Parenthood Federation was founded in 1946 and soon became the world’s largest non-governmental, international family-planning organization. Fear of global overpopulation became a major issue in the 1960s, generating concerns about pollution, food shortages, and quality of life, and leading to well-funded birth control campaigns around the world.
Birth control and the Pill were also part of the U.S. government’s policies against poverty. In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson instituted his social reform policy, known as The Great Society, which aimed, among other things, to eliminate poverty. Thus, as a form of population control, the Pill was endorsed and distributed by doctors.
Opposition to the Pill
The Pill became an extremely controversial subject as Americans struggled with their thoughts on sexual morality, controlling population growth, and women’s control of their reproductive rights. Even by 1965, birth control was illegal in some U.S. states, including Connecticut and New York.
Because the Pill was so effective (and soon so widespread), it heightened the debate about the moral and health consequences of premarital sex and so-called promiscuity. Never before had sexual activity been so divorced from reproduction. For a heterosexual couple using the Pill, intercourse became purely an expression of love, a means of physical pleasure, or both—but it no longer had to be a means of reproduction. While this was true of previous contraceptives, their relatively high failure rates and their less widespread use failed to emphasize this distinction as clearly as the Pill did. The spread of oral contraceptive use thus led many religious figures and institutions to debate the proper role of sexuality and its relationship to procreation. The Roman Catholic Church in particular reiterated the established Catholic teaching that artificial contraception distorts the nature and purpose of sex. Opponents of the Pill, and the sexual freedom it provided to women, frequently cite the rise of out-of-wedlock births, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and divorce rates as evidence of the regression of quality of life since the advent of the Pill.
American Indian Rights
The fight for American Indian civil rights expanded in the 1960s, resulting in the creation of the advocacy organization, the American Indian Movement (AIM).
Explain the American Indian civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s
- Focused on unemployment, inadequate housing, and racism, the movement for American Indian rights grew during the 1960s.
- The movement prioritized demands to have the U.S. government honor treaty obligations it made with various sovereign American Indian nations.
- In the late 1960s, the National Indian Education Association was formed to fight for equal education for American Indian schools, which were afflicted with racism and insufficient funds.
- The group Indians of All Tribes occupied the island of Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, attracting national attention as they demanded the reclamation of the land under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
- American Indian Movement (AIM) activists marched across the country in 1972, known as the Trail of Broken Treaties, and took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs to protest the U.S. government’s failure to address past treaty responsibilities to various American Indian nations.
- AIM also led a spiritual walk to Washington, D.C. to draw attention to anti-Indian legislation, leading Congress to pass the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and eventually the passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed civil rights and equal protection.
- The Longest Walk: An 1978 spiritual walk across the country led by the American Indian Movement to support tribal sovereignty and bring attention to 11 pieces of anti-Indian legislation.
- Trail of Broken Treaties: A cross-country protest in the United States by American Indian and First Nations organizations that took place in the autumn of 1972, and was designed to bring attention to American Indian issues, such as treaty rights, living standards, and inadequate housing.
American Indian Civil Rights in the 1960s
The movement for American Indian rights in the 1960s centered around the tension between rights granted via tribal sovereignty and rights that individual American Indians retain as U.S. citizens. Many of the demands of the movement related to the U.S. government’s obligation to honor its treaties with the sovereign American Indian nations.
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act put an end to individual states claims on whether or not American Indians were allowed to vote through a federal law. Before the Voting Rights Act, many states had found ways to prevent American Indians from voting, such as residency or literacy requirements. On March 6, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11399, establishing the National Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO). With the passage of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) in 1968, also called the Indian Bill of Rights, American Indians were guaranteed— at least on paper—many civil rights.
After decades of unequal schooling between American Indian children and white children, often stemming from racist policies and insufficiently funded schools, the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) was formed in 1969 to fight for equal education for American Indians. American Indian activists at this time also strove for media protection, and to own their own media. One of the primary advocacy organizations for American Indian rights, the American Indian Movement (AIM), was also formed during the 1960s.
Alcatraz Occupation: Catalyst for the Formation of AIM
For 19 months, from November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971, the group Indians of All Tribes (IAT) occupied the Alcatraz penitentiary off the coast of San Francisco. The occupation was forcibly ended by the U.S. government. According to the IAT, the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux should have returned all retired, abandoned, or out-of-use federal land to the American Indian people from whom it was acquired. Since Alcatraz penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963, and the island was declared surplus federal property in 1964, a number of activists felt the island qualified for reclamation. In 1970, the Occupation of Alcatraz was noted as “the symbol of a newly awakened desire among Indians for unity and authority in a white world.”
The American Indian Movement (AIM)
The American Indian Movement (AIM) is an activist organization in the United States founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by urban American Indians. The AIM agenda focuses on spirituality, leadership, and sovereignty. The organization was formed to address various issues concerning the American Indian urban community in Minneapolis, including poverty, housing, treaty issues, and police harassment. From its beginnings in Minnesota, AIM soon attracted members from across the United States. At a time when peaceful sit-ins were a common protest tactic of the African American civil rights movement, the AIM takeovers in their early days were noticeably violent. Some appeared to be spontaneous outcomes of protest gatherings, while others included armed seizure of public facilities.
The Trail of Broken Treaties
In 1972, AIM activists marched across the country on what was called the Trail of Broken Treaties. The activists took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), occupying it for several days and causing millions of dollars of damage. During this time, AIM developed and publicized a 20-point list to summarize its issues with federal treaties and promises.
The list addressed the failed responsibilities of the U.S. government, and demanded the restoration of the 110 million acres of land taken away from Native Nations by the U.S.; the restoration of terminated Native Nation rights; the abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the establishment of immunity of Native Nations from state commerce regulation, taxes, and trade restrictions; the protection of American Indian religious freedom and cultural integrity; and affirmation of the health, housing, employment, economic development, and education for all American Indian people.
The Longest Walk
The Longest Walk, in 1978, was an AIM-led spiritual walk across the country to support tribal sovereignty and bring attention to 11 pieces of anti-Indian legislation. The first walk began on February 11, 1978, with a ceremony on Alcatraz Island, where a Sacred Pipe was loaded with tobacco and carried the entire distance. This 3,200-mile walk’s purpose was to educate people about the U.S. government’s continuing threat to tribal sovereignty; it rallied thousands, representing many American Indian Nations throughout the United States and Canada.
The Chicano Movement was a part of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement that sought political and social empowerment for Mexican Americans.
Summarize the origins and accomplishments of the Chicano Movement
- The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement was part of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It sought political empowerment and social inclusion for Mexican Americans.
- The highest-profile struggle of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement was the fight that Caesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta waged in the fields of California to organize migrant farm workers.
- For Mexican Americans, the Chicano Movement was the equivalent of the Black Power.
- The term “Chicano” was originally used as a derogatory label for the children of Mexican migrants; proudly reclaiming the term as a symbol of ethnic pride, Chicano activists demanded the recognition of rights for Mexican Americans.
- The Chicano Movement encompassed a broad cross section of issues, from restoration of land grants to enhanced education, voting and political rights, and emerging awareness of collective history.
- The Brown Berets formed in California as a community group organized against police brutality, and advocating educational equality. They grew to open chapters across the U.S.
- Aztlan: The place of origin of the pre-Columbian Mexican civilization that became a symbol for various Mexican nationalist and indigenous movements in the U.S.; the name was first taken up by a group of Chicano independence activists led by Oscar Zeta Acosta during the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
- Brown Berets: A Mexican American activist group that emerged during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s, and remains active to the present day, focused on community organizing against police brutality and advocating for educational equality.
- Chicano Movement: An extension of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, which began in the 1940s and gained prominence in the 1960s, with the stated goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment.
Introduction: The Mexican-American Movement for Civil Rights
The African American bid for full citizenship was surely the most visible of the battles for civil rights taking place in the United States. However, other minority groups that had been legally discriminated against or otherwise denied access to economic and educational opportunities began to increase efforts to secure their rights in the 1960s. The Mexican American Movement was part of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s; it sought political empowerment and social inclusion for Mexican Americans.
Early Legal Victories
Like the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement won its earliest victories in the federal courts. Prior to the movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Mexican American civil rights activists had achieved several major legal victories. The 1947 Mendez v. Westminster Supreme Court ruling declared that segregating children of “Mexican and Latin descent” was unconstitutional, and the 1954 Hernandez v. Texas ruling declared that Mexican Americans and other historically subjugated groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In 1949 and 1950, the American G.I. Forum initiated local “pay your poll tax ” drives to register Mexican American voters. Although they were unable to repeal the poll tax, their efforts did bring in new Hispanic voters, who began to elect Latino representatives to the Texas House of Representatives and to Congress during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In California, a similar phenomenon took place. When Mexican-American Edward R. Roybal ran for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, community activists established the Community Service Organization (CSO), which effectively registered 15,000 new voters in Latino neighborhoods. With this support, Roybal was able to win the 1949 election and become the first Mexican American since 1886 to win a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.
Chavez and Huerta
The highest-profile struggle of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement was the fight that Caesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta waged in the fields of California to organize migrant farm workers. In 1962, Chavez and Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). In 1965, when Filipino grape pickers led by Filipino American Larry Itliong went on strike to call attention to their plight, Chavez lent his support. Workers organized by the NFWA also went on strike, and the two organizations merged to form the United Farm Workers. When Chavez asked American consumers to boycott grapes, politically conscious people around the country heeded his call, and many unionized longshoremen refused to unload grape shipments. In 1966, Chavez led striking workers to the state capitol in Sacramento, further publicizing the cause. Martin Luther King, Jr. telegraphed words of encouragement to Chavez, whom he called a “brother.” The strike ended in 1970 when California farmers recognized the right of farm workers to unionize. However, the farm workers did not gain all they sought, and the larger struggle did not end.
The Chicano Movement
The equivalent of the Black Power movement among Mexican Americans was the Chicano Movement. The term “Chicano” was originally used as a derogatory label for the children of Mexican migrants; people on both sides of the border considered this new generation of Mexican Americans neither American nor Mexican. Proudly reclaiming and adopting a derogatory term as a symbol of self-determination and ethnic pride, Chicano activists demanded increased political power for Mexican Americans, education that recognized their cultural heritage, and the restoration of lands taken from them at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848.
One of the founding members of the Chicano Movement, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, launched the Crusade for Justice in Denver in 1965 to provide jobs, legal services, and healthcare for Mexican Americans. From this movement arose La Raza Unida, a political party that attracted many Mexican American college students. Elsewhere, Reies López Tijerina fought for years to reclaim lost and illegally expropriated ancestral lands in New Mexico; he was one of the co-sponsors of the Poor People’s March on Washington in 1967.
The Chicano Movement encompassed many issues, including restoration of land grants, farm workers’ rights, improved education, voting and political rights, and an emerging awareness of collective history. It addressed negative ethnic stereotypes of Mexicans as presented in mass media and the American consciousness. Early activists adopted a historical account of the preceding 125 years, highlighting an obscured portion of Mexican-American history. These activists identified the failure of the United States government to live up to the promises it had made in Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. By their account, Mexican-Americans were a conquered people who needed to reclaim their birthright and cultural heritage as part of a new nation, which later became known as Aztlán.
When the movement faced practical challenges in the 1960s, most activists chose to focus on the immediate issues of unequal educational and employment opportunities, political disfranchisement, and police brutality. In the late 1960s, when the student movement was globally active, the Chicano movement brought about spontaneous actions, such as the mass walkouts by high school students in Denver and East Los Angeles in 1968 and the Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles in 1970. There were also many incidents of walkouts in the LA County high schools of El Monte, Alhambra, and Covina (particularly Northview), where students marched to fight for their rights. In 1978, similar walkouts took place in Houston to protest the discrepant academic quality for Latino students. There were also several student sit-ins in objection to the decreased funding of Chicano courses.
Young Chicanos for Community Action
In 1966, as part of the Annual Chicano Student Conference in Los Angeles County, a team of high school students discussed different issues affecting Mexican Americans in their barrios and schools. These high school students formed the Young Chicanos For Community Action (YCCA). In 1967, the YCCA decided to wear brown berets as a symbol of unity and resistance against discrimination. The Brown Berets took on a more militant and nationalistic ideology as the group focused on community organizing against police brutality and advocation for educational equality.
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán
At a historic meeting at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in April of 1969, the diverse student organizations came together under the new name Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MECHA). Student groups like these were initially concerned with education issues, but their activities evolved to include participation in political campaigns, and protest against broader issues, such as police brutality and the U.S. war in Southeast Asia.
Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional
Some women felt that the Chicano movement was too concerned with social issues that affected the Chicano community as a whole rather than problems that affected Chicana women specifically. This led Chicana women to form the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional. In 1975, this group won the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, obtaining a moratorium on the compulsory sterilization of women and adoption of bilingual consent forms. Prior to the case, many Latino women who did not understand English were being sterilized in the United States without proper consent.
Student Rebellions and the New Left
In the United States, the New Left was the name loosely associated with liberal, sometimes radical, political movements that took place during the 1960s, primarily among white college students.
Outline the course of New Left politics, especially the Students for Democratic Society
- In the United States, the ” New Left ” was the name loosely associated with liberal, sometimes radical, political movements that took place during the 1960s, primarily among white college students. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a key organization of the New Left, organizing nationwide student activism against U.S. foreign policy, racial discrimination, economic inequality, and corporatism.
- Activism on the part of the SDS began as a free speech movement but soon grew to militant protests of the Vietnam War and the military drafts on campuses across the nation.
- The “Ten Days of Resistance” was an SDS-led protest that culminated in the largest student strike in U.S. history, with about a million students walking out of class.
- In 1968, the SDS began to fray as chapters broke off along differing ideologies, culminating in a disastrous national convention in 1969.
- “Ten Days of Resistance”: An effort on university campuses led by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), including rallies, marches, sit-ins, and teach-ins, and culminating in a one-day strike on April 26, 1968.
- The Students for a Democratic Society: An activist movement in the United States that was one of the main representations of the country’s New Left. The movement used methods of participatory democracy, direct action, radicalism, student power, and shoestring budgets.
- Maoism: A political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong; its followers consider it an anti-Revisionist form of Marxism–Leninism.
- The Establishment: A term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation.
The New Left
In the United States, the “New Left” was the name loosely associated with liberal, sometimes radical, political movements that took place during the 1960s, primarily among college students. The New Left was a loosely organized, mostly white student movement that protested the Vietnam War and advocated for democracy, civil rights, and various types of university reforms.
The New Left opposed what it saw as the prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed “the Establishment.” Those who rejected this authority became known as “anti-Establishment.” The New Left drew inspiration from black radicalism, particularly the Black Power movement and the left-wing Black Panther Party. The New Left did not seek to recruit industrial workers, but rather concentrated on a social activist approach to organizing, convinced they could be the source for a better kind of social revolution. The New Left was also marked by the advent of the modern environmentalist movement, which clashed with the Old Left’s disregard for the environment in favor of preserving the jobs of union workers.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
The organization that came to symbolize the core of the New Left was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). By 1962, the SDS had emerged as the most important of the new campus radical groups; soon it would be regarded as virtually synonymous with the New Left. The organization developed rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969.
The SDS became the leading organization of the anti-war movement on college campuses during the Vietnam War. As the war escalated, the membership of the SDS also increased greatly as more people were willing to scrutinize political decisions in moral terms, and the people became increasingly militant. As opposition to the war grew stronger, the SDS became a nationally prominent political organization, and opposition to the war became an overriding concern that overshadowed many of the issues that had originally inspired the SDS.
Early Years of SDS and Protests: 1962-1968
On October 1, 1964, the University of California, Berkeley, became the site of the first widespread student protests. Student protests, known as the Free Speech Movement, took place during the 1964-1965 academic year under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In protests that were unprecedented in scope at the time, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. On December 2, 1964, on the steps of Sproul Hall, Mario Savio gave a famous speech. The demonstrations, meetings, and strikes that resulted all but shut the university down, and hundreds of students were arrested.
Shortly after, in February of 1965, President Johnson dramatically escalated the war in Vietnam by bombing North Vietnam and introducing ground troops in the South. Campus chapters of the SDS all over the country started to lead small, localized demonstrations against the war. The media began to cover the organization and the New Left.
The fall of 1967 saw a great escalation of the anti-war actions of the New Left. The school year started on October 17 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with a large demonstration against the university’s complicity in the war in allowing military recruiters on campus. Peaceful at first, the demonstrations turned into a sit-in that was violently dispersed by the Madison police and riot squad, resulting in many injuries and arrests. A mass rally and a student strike then closed the university for several days. After conventional civil rights tactics of peaceful pickets seemed to have failed, the Oakland, California Stop-the-Draft Week ended in mass skirmishes with the police. The huge, October 21st “March on the Pentagon” saw hundreds arrested and injured. Night-time raids on draft offices began to spread.
Ten Days of Resistance
In the spring of 1968, national SDS activists led an effort on campuses called “Ten Days of Resistance.” Local chapters cooperated in rallies, marches, sit-ins, and teach-ins, and the effort culminated in a one-day strike on April 26. About one million students stayed away from classes that day in the largest student strike in the history of the United States.
It was largely ignored by the New York City-based national media, which focused on the student protests at Columbia University in New York. While black students in the Student Afro-American Society occupied a building in protest of racism at Columbia, white students in SDS occupied a separate building in protest of entanglement in the Vietnam War. (In spite of its liberal reputation, SDS was not known for having diversity of gender or race, and was mainly led by white men.) This protest had a particularly theatrical end, as over 700 students were arrested by the New York Police Department. As a result of this publicity, “SDS” became a household name in the United States. Membership in SDS chapters around the United States increased dramatically during the 1968-69 academic year.
The Disintegration of SDS
In 1968 and 1969, the SDS began to split under the strain of internal dissension and an increasing turn towards Maoism. Along with adherents known as the New Communist Movement, some extremist factions also emerged, such as the Weather Underground Organization. In the summer of 1969, the 9th SDS National Convention was held at the Chicago Coliseum, with some 2,000 people attending. The various factions present, such as the Worker Student Alliance (WSA) and Progressive Labor (PL) members, were divided as to what the mission and purpose of SDS should be. The convention ultimately fell apart, and in the fall of 1969, many of the SDS chapters split up or disintegrated.
Modern environmentalism grew in the 1950s and 1960s, with the support of organizations and large-scale media campaigns.
Evaluate the origins of the modern Environmental Movement
- The Environmental Movement in the U.S. is rooted in early 20th century efforts by individuals to protect natural resources, particularly by conservationist John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club.
- The Sierra Club grew in the 1960s to focus on wildlife preservation, air and water pollution, population control, and the exploitation of natural resources.
- The publication of biologist Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring mobilized broad opposition to harmful pesticide use, leading to strengthened government regulation.
- Using direct action, lobbying, and research to achieve its environmental goals, Greenpeace established itself in protesting underground nuclear weapons testing in the late 1960s.
- Global awareness for environmentalism led to the creation of international events to increase awareness, such as Earth Day, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, and the United States Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act during the 1970s.
- Sierra Club: One of the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States; founded in 1892.
- Silent Spring: A book written by Rachel Carson, and published in 1962. It is widely credited with launching the environmental movement.
- Greenpeace: A direct-action environmental organization with the stated goal of “ensur[ing] the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity,” and which focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues, such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, and anti-nuclear power.
The Emergence of Environmentalism
In the United States, the beginnings of an Environmental Movement can be traced as far back as 1739. For centuries it was known as conservation, and it was not called environmentalism until the 1950s.
The conservationist principles, as well as the belief in an inherent right of nature, were to become the bedrock of modern environmentalism. In the 20th century, environmental ideas continued to grow in popularity and recognition. Organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, as well as the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, contributed to the growth of the environmental movement during this time period.
The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. During the 1800s, the Sierra Club worked to create national parks, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. After a focus on preserving wilderness in the 1950s and 1960s, the Sierra Club and other groups broadened their focus to include such issues as air and water pollution, population control, and the exploitation of natural resources. The Sierra Club’s most publicized crusade of the 1960s was the effort to stop the Bureau of Reclamation from building two dams that would flood portions of the Grand Canyon.
In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book that is widely credited with helping launch the Environmental Movement. It cataloged the environmental impacts caused by the indiscriminate spraying of the pesticide DDT in the U.S., and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book argued that uncontrolled and unexamined pesticide use was harming, and even killing, not only animals and birds, but also humans.
In response to the publication of Silent Spring and the public concern that ensued, U.S. President John F. Kennedy directed his Science Advisory Committee to investigate Carson’s claims. Their investigation vindicated Carson’s work and led to an immediate strengthening of the regulation of chemical pesticides. The United States Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970, which subsequently banned the agricultural use of DDT in the U.S. in 1972.
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization whose goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity.” It focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues, such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, and anti-nuclear issues. Using direct action, lobbying, and research to achieve its goals, Greenpeace has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods have received criticism and the organization’s direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists.
In the mid-1970s, independent groups using the name Greenpeace started springing up worldwide. By 1977, there were 15 to 20 Greenpeace groups around the world, and on October 14, 1979, Greenpeace International came into existence.
Growing Movement: Earth Day, UN Actions, and Federal Legislation
A major milestone in the Environmental Movement was the establishment of Earth Day, which was first observed in San Francisco and other cities on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring. It was created to give awareness to environmental issues. On March 21, 1971, United Nations Secretary-General U Thant spoke of a spaceship Earth on Earth Day, hereby referring to the ecosystem services the earth supplies to us, and hence our obligation to protect it (and with it, ourselves).
The United Nation’s first major conference on international environmental issues, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference), was held on June 5-16, 1972. It marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.
By the mid-1970s, many felt that people were on the edge of environmental catastrophe. The Back-to-the-Land movement combined ideas of environmental ethics with anti-Vietnam War sentiments and other political issues. Around this time, more mainstream environmentalism was starting to show force, with the signing of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, and the formation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1975. Significant amendments were also enacted to the United States Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act that set standards for auto and factory emissions.
Gay and Lesbian Rights
The Sexual Revolution and the Feminist Movement of the 1960s established a political climate that fostered the struggle for gay and lesbian rights.
Summarize key developments in the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement
- Gay and lesbian rights movements developed in the post- World War II years, originally seeking social acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.
- The early “homophile” movement differed from the Gay Rights Movement of the 1960s, in that the former focused on non-confrontation and assimilation, while the later took a more radical approach and sought public acceptance.
- The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis, the latter focusing specifically on lesbian rights, were formed to provide leadership and educate gay communities, while urging assimilation into general society.
- Lesbian feminism emerged from the gay liberation movement of the 1960s in response to frustration over the sexism within the movement and the domination of the movement by men. The Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 were a series of uprisings and resistance against a violent police raid on the Stonewall Inn, which openly welcomed gay people and catered to the most marginalized people in the community.
- The Stonewall Riots: An act of resistance by LGBTQ patrons against a violent police raid of a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City, on June 28, 1969.
- Lesbian Feminism: A cultural movement and critical perspective, most influential in the 1970s and early 1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe), that questions the position of lesbians and women in society.
Combined with the Sexual Revolution and the Feminist Movement of the 1960s, the counterculture helped establish a political climate that fostered the struggle for gay and lesbian rights. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, and their allies have a long history of campaigning for what is generally called LGBTQ rights. Various communities have worked together, but also have worked independently of each other, in various configurations, including gay liberation, lesbian feminism, the queer movement, and transgender activism.
Even in a time of unprecedented societal change and burgeoning liberal views and policies, homosexuality was still widely publicly stigmatized throughout the 20th century. More often than not, it was seen as a malaise or mental illness instead of a legitimate sexual orientation. Indeed, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the overriding opinion of the medical establishment was that homosexuality was a developmental maladjustment.
The Homophile Movement, 1945-1968
Immediately following World War II, a number of homosexual rights groups came into being or were revived in the United States. These groups usually preferred the term “homophile” to “homosexual,” emphasizing love over sex. The Homophile Movement has been described as politically conservative, although their calls for social acceptance of same-sex love were seen as radical views at the time.
The Homophile Movement lobbied to establish a prominent influence in political systems of social acceptability; radicals of the 1970s would later disparage the homophile groups for trying to assimilate into mainstream culture, rather than being proud of their differences. Any demonstrations were orderly and polite. By 1969, there were dozens of homophile organizations and publications in the U.S., and a national organization had been formed; however, they were largely ignored by the media.
The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis
Many gay rights groups were founded in Los Angeles and San Francisco, cities that were administrative centers in the network of U.S. military installations and the places where many gay men suffered dishonorable discharges. The first postwar organization for homosexual civil rights, the Mattachine Society, was launched in Los Angeles in 1950. Their objectives were to unify gay people and provide them with education, leadership, and legal assistance. They reasoned that they would change more minds about homosexuality by proving that gays and lesbians were no different from heterosexuals. Soon after, several women in San Francisco met in their living rooms to form the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) for lesbians. As the DOB grew, they developed similar goals to the Mattachine, urging their members to assimilate into general society. In 1966, the city became home to the world’s first organization for transsexual people, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, and in 1967, the Sexual Freedom League of San Francisco was born. Through these organizations and others, gay and lesbian activists fought against the criminalization and discrimination of their sexual identities on a number of occasions throughout the 1960s, employing strategies of both protests and litigation.
Lesbian Groups and Lesbian Feminism
Lesbian feminism emerged around the same time that gay liberation groups were forming. Many women of the Gay Rights Movement felt frustrated at the domination of the movement by men, and formed separate organizations. Disagreements between different political philosophies were, at times, extremely heated, clashing in particular over views on sadomasochism, prostitution, and transsexuality.
1969: Resistance at Stonewall
The most famous event in the Gay Rights Movement took place not in San Francisco but in New York City. Early in the morning of June 28, 1969, police raided a Greenwich Village gay bar, called the Stonewall Inn. Although such raids and violence at the hands of police were common, on this particular night the Stonewall patrons put up a fierce resistance. As the police prepared to arrest many of the customers, especially transgender women and cross-dressers who were particular targets for police harassment, a crowd began to gather. Angered by the brutal treatment, the crowd attacked, led by transgender women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera. Beer bottles and bricks were thrown, and the police barricaded themselves inside the bar and waited for reinforcements. The riot continued for several hours and resumed the following night.
The resistance at Stonewall is frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the LGBTQ community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual and gender minorities. Shortly thereafter, the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists’ Alliance were formed, and began to protest discrimination, homophobia, and violence against gay and transgender people, promoting LGBTQ liberation and pride. While some of the early leaders of the movement were transgender and non-binary people, these gender identities were often eclipsed by the fight for gay and lesbian rights, and it would take several more decades before transgender rights would make headway.
The Movement Grows
With a call for gay men and women to “come out”—a consciousness-raising campaign that shared many principles with the counterculture—gay and lesbian communities moved from the urban underground into the political sphere. Gay rights activists protested strongly against the official position of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which categorized homosexuality as a mental illness and often resulted in job loss, loss of custody, and other serious personal consequences. By 1974, the APA had ceased to classify homosexuality as a form of mental illness, but continued to consider it a “sexual orientation disturbance.” Nevertheless, in 1974, Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly lesbian woman voted into office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1977, Harvey Milk became California’s first openly gay man elected to public office, although his service on San Francisco’s board of supervisors, along with that of San Francisco mayor George Moscone, was cut short when he was killed by disgruntled former city supervisor Dan White.
By the summer of 1970, groups in at least eight American cities were sufficiently organized to schedule simultaneous events commemorating the Stonewall riots for the last Sunday in June. The events varied from a highly political march of three to five thousand in New York, and thousands more at parades in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities. Today, LGBTQ Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to commemorate the Stonewall riots.