- Pages: 4
- Word count: 889
- Category: Cesar Chavez
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Blatant social injustices and discrimination led to the rise of activist leaders in the American Indian, Asian Pacific, African American, and Mexican population who used legal means to pursue equality and civil rights for their respective communities.
The abolishment of slavery brought an end to owning black as property but it did not bring an end to the mistreatment and discrimination towards black citizens. Lynchings were a common occurrence, especially in the South. The start of the 1880s brought with it the creation of Jim Crow facilities that were considered legal. Although the state was prohibited from discriminating against citizens based on color, the law dictated that individuals can. As long as business owners provided separate facilities for “coloreds,” they were not considered to be violating the law. These separate facilities designated for people of color were substandard and sometimes placed away from the white facilities for fear of “contamination.” These substandard facilities inspired member of the NAACP, Charles Huston and Thurgood Marshall into attempting to prove that these supposed separate but equal facilities were in fact separate but not equal. Huston and Marshall used the findings of previous court cases that showed that at the grad school level, separate school grounds and accomodations were not equal. They then used the findings of previous elmentary school court cases and a doll study conducted by Kenneth Clark to prove to the Supreme Court that not only were these separate facilities not equal, they were also harmful in the self-esteem of black citizens. By appealing to the Supreme Court, Huston and Marshall were able to enact legal change that benefited the black community.
The Voting Rights ACt of 1965 was a historical piece of legislation associated with the black civil rights movement. The act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in August of 1965 which prohibited discrimination during voting on the basis of race. The Act also effectively abolished the use of voting practices designed to disenfranchise blacks such as literacy tests, polling taxes, and the need to provide proof of “good moral character.” The Voting Rights Act was a direct result of not only Martin Luther King’s activism during the Selma to Montgomery march but also by the effort of the Boynton family of Alabama. Almost fifteen years before President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, the Boynton family were already attempting to increase black voter registration in Alabam despite exsisting tactics employed by whites to deter blacks. The Boynton family would later go on to cooperate with Bernard Lafayette and and Colia Liddell of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and together spurred the Selma voting movement. The movement attempted to increase black voter registration but were often prevented from doing so from sheriffs who would verbally and physically threaten black people who showed up to register. Members of the Ku Klux Klan also prevented blacks from registering by beating citizens, restricting registration hours, and threatening to have these would-be voters fired from their jobs. The Boynton family, along with the SNCC, the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) headed by Dr. King, and hundreds of marchers would go on to participate in a march to Montgomery to protest the unfair conditions of black voter registration. Before being able to cross the Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, the protesters were met by state troopers, police, and white male citizens who had been “deputized” earlier that day. When the protesters refused to reverse their path, they were beaten and tear-gassed and ultimately sustained over fifty casualties. The brutality inflicted upon the protesters and the resilience of the protesters in refusing to turn back spurred President Johnson to sign and enforce the aforementioned historic Voting Rights Act.
The advancement of farming and agriculture techniques led to the rise in need of agricultural workers and farmers. These agricultural workers were paid poorly, had poor working conditions. The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 to protect hourly workers but excluded farm workers from its protection. The period of 1942 to 1964 brought about the Bracero Program in which Mexican workers were brought to American land for agricultural work. The Bracero Program allowed American employers to employ Mexican immigrants at a cheaper wage than their Mexican American counterparts. Mexican immigrants were reportedly paid less than Mexican American farm workers. The end of the Bracero Program in December of 1964 gave Mexican Americans the leverage they needed to start advocating for improved working conditions and protection from employer retaliation when the workers wanted to organize or join a union. The most recognizable advocates of this movement were Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. In February of 1975, Chavez organized a march from San Francisco to Modesto that was aimed at gaining media attention to the plight of Mexican American agricultural laborers. The Modesto march initially started with just a few hundred marchers and eventually gained thousands of supporters by the time the march reached Modesto. Governor Jerry Brown witnessed the support and success of the Modesto march and began to advocate for reform of current labor laws for agricultural workers. As the United Farm Worker’s chief lobbyist, Dolores Huerta argued for the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (CARLA) which would later go on to be signed into law by Governor Brown in June of 1975.