Historical Movements

Dec 4, 2017 at History Essays

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The United States has witnessed many movements throughout its history. Primarily, there are three main historical movements that have had an impact on the social change in the United States. These are the Progressive Movement, Civil Rights Movement and The New Deal (Jordan 18). All these movements significantly impacted the social fabric of the Americans in various ways.

The Progressive Movement 

The Progressive movement involved American social reformers who were championing for reforms in the government. They argued that reforms were essential in order for people to have more control over the government, and alleviate the evils in the society. Primarily, the Progressive Movement focused on dealing with problems facing the Americans such as dishonest politics, business monopolies, poor working conditions and the presence of city slums. The main reforms forming the pillars of the Progressive movement were economic, social and political. The economic pillar focused on addressing issues related to business monopolies and taxes. In this regard, the reformers advocated for more government control over tax and business reforms. Besides, they wanted the government to be held responsible for the social welfare of all Americans without any racial discrimination. The social pillar of the movement was aimed at solving the numerous social problems facing majority of the Americans. The main goals of this pillar was establishing minimum wage, and setting up of housing regulations. In terms of political reforms, the reformers insisted for the rights of American citizens to govern themselves.  Importantly, the Progressive Movement improved the living conditions of the poor, and resulted to setting up of numerous settlement houses (McGerr 23). 

The Civil Rights Movement 

The Civil Rights Movement was a social, legal and political struggle spearheaded by the black Americans. They championed for racial equality and award of full citizenship rights. They engaged in numerous activities such as boycotts, protest marches and refusal to abide by the segregation laws that were set up by the ruling regime. In the past, there were rules such as the Grandfather Clause that prohibited black Americans from voting. Furthermore, there were taxes for one to be eligible to vote which the blacks could not afford to pay. Furthermore, black Americans were denied the opportunity to send their children to schools. This continued discrimination enraged many black Americans and gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement. The movement held many protest marches and boycotts (Harrison & Larry 83). This forced the Congress to pass civil rights legislation to reflect the wishes of the majority of the black Americans. For example, the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965 and allowed the black Americans to vote for the first time in the United States’ history. Besides, the legislation enacted provided for respect of civil rights of the black Americans. For example, they were now able to attend educational facilities. Undoubtedly, the Civil Rights Movement impacted on the social change in the United States.

The New Deal 

The New Deal was a program set up President Roosevelt to solve the economic problems that were created by the Great Depression. He instituted federal actions that were aimed at assisting victims of the Depression, stimulating industrial recovery and ensuring minimum living standards. Initially, the New Deal was concerned with assisting the victims of the depression by setting up shelters for them. However, it changed its focus towards recovery as time progressed. There were many agencies that were created to spearhead the recovery initiative. Primarily, they focused on improving the working conditions, regulating prices and wages. Besides, all business operating within the United States were supposed to improve the working conditions of their employees and significantly increase their wages. By improving working conditions of all Americans and increasing the minimum wage, the New Deal had a significant impact on the social change in the United States (Hiltzik 25).

The Impact on Social Change in the United States

Out of the three historical movements highlighted above, I believe that the Civil Rights Movement had the greatest impact on social change in the United States. This movement influenced the American society in various ways (Button 81). First, the movement used peaceful marches, demonstrations and sit-ins. Primarily, the movement employed the principle of non-violence in advocating for the respect of civil rights of the black Americans. This movement altered the public opinion in how demonstrations should be held (Anderson & Rodgers 1). One example of this impact is the Occupy Wall Street which employs civil disobedience tactics in order to seek address of the basic economic inequalities facing the Americans. 

Second, the Civil Rights Movement impacted on the social change in the United States by changing the consciousness of the society. For example, before the movement, racism was prevalent in all corners of the country. This was well-depicted by the many TV programs and movies that used a lot of racist language. However, the movement marked an end of blatant forms of racial discrimination. Recent statistics indicate that the number of racial violence has declined significantly. Furthermore, a majority of the white Americans treat their black counterparts with respect, and do not discriminate against them because of their race. For example, a black American can now express his or her opinions in public without facing any racial discrimination (Luders 16).

Lastly, the Civil Rights Movement enabled black Americans to attend schools. After the 1960s, most of the black Americans were able to go to educational facilities to gain knowledge. In this regard, there was a substantial increase in the number of educated black Americans. Unlike in the past, where education was a privilege of the whites, the movement enabled black Americans to get education albeit low quality. Importantly, this impacted the social change in the United States since more black Americans were getting educated and knowledgeable (Dello & David 25). Ultimately, the Civil Rights Movement had the greatest impact on the social change in the United States. 

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