American Democracy Paper

Submitted By AquaMax1007
Words: 1156
Pages: 5

Max Donnelly
AP Government

An Ever Changing Future

The founders of the United States claimed and built on the idea that individuals have certain natural rights— the rights of all people to dignity and worth (Magleby). Dignity is defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect” (Dignity). Though we created our nation on respect and dignity, it took us almost one-hundred years to simply say that we are equal, and we are still trying to become equal even to this day. Though we, as a nation, are far from obtaining equality, we have drastically improved from what we considered equal more than two-hundred years ago. Suffrage and citizenship were deemed equal more than one-hundred and forty years ago for men, but it wasn’t even until 1920 that women were given the right to vote as a result of the nineteenth amendment. This was the beginning of equal rights for women. Few women were allowed to work in the labor force, those that did made up a small percentage, less than one-third. During World War II, few women were allowed to fight in the war, so they took the jobs of men while they went off to war. The men left knowing that the jobs they once had, will be there when they return. When the war had finished, a working woman was beginning to become the norm, even after the men came back and reclaimed their jobs. The amount of women who obtained degrees tripled during this time, which led to a rapid growth in female employment. From the end of the war in 1945 to 1999, female employment peaked at 60%, a number no one thought was achievable (Web). We can see that this number is higher than what it was in 2010 at 47% (Women’s). Though women were obtaining the same degrees as men were, they only earned a fraction of the salaries men saw. Women on average, in 1972, were making only 62% of every dollar a man would make. Today women are making, on average, 81% of what men make (Web). Things are not equal yet, but change takes time, and we can see that America is moving in the right direction. One of the largest accomplishments for the United States was the Civil Rights Movement. This turning point not only gave men and women, blacks and whites equal citizenship and voting rights; the first step in creating a more equal and unified nation. One of the leading and most well known historians involved with the Civil Rights Movement is Martin Luther King Jr. King was a Baptist minister and social activist born in the South during the 1930’s. His dream was to achieve equality for African Americans and sought his inspiration from other non-violet activists such as Mahatma Gandhi (Martin). MLK was the perfect example of one of Mahatma Gandhi’s most powerful quotes, “You must be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma). Thanks to Rosa Parks and her courageous actions, King was able to gain popularity through the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted over a year. “Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed” was the motto King and others lived by as they founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group aimed toward equality through non-violence. This philosophy was put to the test during the Birmingham campaign in 1963, in which boycotts, sit-ins, and marches against segregation took place. Later that year, King and others organized the March on Washington, where some three-hundred-thousand people gathered to promote equality. This act led to the creation of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 which outlawed discrimination on anyone one person based on race, religion, color, sex or ethnicity (Civil). King continued as an activist until his assassination in April of 1968 while he was supporting a worker’s strike. (Martin) King fought for the impossible and was able to show the world that dreams only happen if you make them happen. The “Separate but Equal” doctrine in the United States Constitution began to become an issue with the newly ratified fourteenth amendment