Essay on Social Forces That Shaped America

Published: 2021/11/22
Number of words: 1886

In the entire American history, there have been significant incremental improvements in citizen’s lives both domestically and socially. The lives of the Americans have changed significantly due to the revolutions which had an objective of advocating for the rights of the people. In this regard, there have been affirmative and transformative actions which have made the country as well as its citizens to experience rapid success. After World War II, several social movements arose, and they had various grievances as far as the rights of the individuals are concerned. These social forces had multiple activities in which they engaged at the same time interacting with the government as well as social media to make their wishes be known. Some of the objectives which the social forces had were met, and this made entire America to drastically improve regarding economic development (Axinn, and Herman, pg. 216). The entire American system changed positively due to the influence of these social forces. Examples of the social movements which took place in America include the campaign against the Vietnam War, the conservative movement of the 1970s-80s, the gender rights movement, the student free speech movement and many more. These social forces had tremendous impacts in shaping the America we have today since World War II.

The Civil Rights Movement

This is one of the movements that was involved in shaping America after World War II. This movement was entirely advocating for social justice in the United States of America. The move took place primarily in the 1950s as well as 1960s. The main objective for this movement was to help the black Americans to have equal rights under the law America. Actually, after the Civil War, there was the official abolishment of slavery. However, discrimination against blacks did not end. The black Americans especially those in South continued enduring devastating effects of racism. In the middle of the twentieth century, it was a feeling by the African Americans that prejudice, as well as violence against them, was enough (Weisbrot, pg. 119). They needed to be accorded respect and treated equally with other Americans. In this regard, they were awakened to fight for equality. There was a mobilization of all the blacks and several other whites who joined hands so that they could collectively battle for equity. This unprecedented fight extended across two decades, and therefore it had a lot of impacts in shaping America.

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Activities engaged in this movement

In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. witnessed histrionic development of the Civil Rights Movement. This movement accomplished several of its objectives through civil disobedience acts. The movement was involved in legal battles as well as promoting the concept of Black Power. This social movement in the U.S. had clear objectives of ending racial segregation. Also, it was aimed at ending discrimination against blacks at the same time securing legal recognition for African Americans. Another activity which the Civil Rights Movement engaged in is “federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law.” Since the slavery time, the black Americans were always fighting to be liberated and get their rights. However, their fights did not materialize by then. It was until the 1960s Civil Rights Movement when critical accomplishments were witnessed in the struggle for their civil rights.

Some of the problems faced by the black Americas were very oppressive. For example, according to the Jim Crow laws, there was no any black person who was allowed to use public facilities which were used by the whites (Weisbrot, pg. 117). Also, African Americans were not supposed to live in same towns as whites nor did they go to schools belonging to whites. Interracial marriages were also deemed to be illegal. To make matters worse, voting rights were not granted to the blacks as the whites thought blacks could not pass simple voter literacy tests. This made the blacks to be infuriated and hence decided to fight for equity since these were acts of discrimination. During the time of reconstruction, everybody including the Blacks took part like never before and consequently they felt they need equality in all aspects.

Before the Second World War, blacks earned low wages in farming; they were low-wage factory workers at the same time earning low wages as domestic servants. They were not given better-paying jobs. All through they faced discrimination as they were not allowed even in joining the military. Given this, the blacks threatened to riot to demand equality in employment. Despite the discrimination and segregation suffered by blacks at the time of deployment, they participated heroically in the Second World War and hence they needed recognition.

How the Civil Rights Movement interacted with the government and Media in promoting its causes

The movement has several ways in which it could interact with the government as well as the media so that it can promote its objectives. Generally, the campaign used the concept of non-violent civil disobedience. Some of the mechanisms used include protest methods like boycotts. The blacks could boycott the consumption of a particular product or refuse to work in order to demand their rights. For example, blacks boycotted on the Montgomery buses, and in that incidence, a black woman was arrested for not surrendering her seat to a white person. Also, they had freedom rides whereby they used buses to go deep in the Southern United States which faced segregation. They wanted to know the decision of the Supreme Court on Boynton v. Virginia (1960) which clearly stated that it was unauthorized to segregate public buses. The other method in which they could reach the government and media was through marches and sit-ins.

Goals achieved by the Civil Rights Movement

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed. This act banned any discrimination either on “race, color, religion or national origin” in the practices of employment as well as public accommodations. Through this act, racial segregation ended in schools. It encouraged equality in requirements for voter registration application (Weisbrot, pg. 121). Secondly, there was restoring of voting rights in the 1965 Voting Right Act. Thirdly, discrimination regarding the sale of houses and rental was banned due to the implementation of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. Therefore, one could rent house without discrimination. The education system was also made equal for all since school segregation was banned.

The Women’s Right Movement

The mission of this movement was: “Equity of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by State on account of sex.” (Berkeley, pg. 130). After the Second World War, there was competition among men and women arose in various places. As a result, women’s movement arose to fight for women rights. This movement started in 1848. In the year 1920, women got their first right to vote. The most significant impact of this movement was felt in the 1960s and 1970s. It helped in shaping legislation such as the Civil Rights Act as well as the Affirmative Action. Form the census carried out in 2010; we see that women in the workforce who possess a college degree are more than men. The report given by the government in March 2011 shows that nowadays women earn 75 percent or what men earn. It means that the movement had a great impact in advocating for the rights of women.

Activities engaged in the movement

This movement advocated for many rights of women as far as equity is concerned. First, the activity involved was fighting for women to own property. Also, in workplaces women were earning less when compared to men and therefore, it was the duty of this movement to push for equal rights. There was the formation of NWSA and AWSA to promote suffrage (Berkeley, pg. 134). The movement pushed for equal rights in voting since men were allowed to vote, but women had no that right. Another activity engaged in this movement was to push for the 19th amendment. This was early in the 19th and 20th century, first wave feminism. From this context, “historians and other scholars agree that the leaders of the Seneca Falls Convention played a significant role in shaping the first wave of feminism in the United States and starting the fight for women’s suffrage.” Stanton led the declaration of the grievances stating that there is a need for equal rights for both men and women.

How the Women’s Rights Movement interacted with the government and Media in promoting its causes

In order the grievances for women to be heard by the government, the women activists used various channels. For example, social media was of great importance since it helped in sharing the experiences women like sexual violence. This was shown on the Harass Map platform. Several conventions were held throughout the United States, and all of them had one agenda of ending gender inequality. Women also went for peaceful demonstrations which made the government hear their cry for equality. As a result, their wishes were granted, and hence they could have rights to vote.

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Goals achieved by the Women’s Right Movement

After advocating for their rights for many years, finally, women’s desires were heard by the government. After meeting for several conventions women were allowed to vote, also, they were given right to serve in government (Berkeley, pg. 140). Another goal achieved by the movement was that they were entitled to better jobs, they could now get equal treatment with men. Again, women were now able to get a good education, and they could own and have control over their property — not even a single citizen in America who was denied the right to vote.


The social forces which took place in the U.S. had a significant impact on the system of the country. The movements were involved in shaping America. For instance, before World War II, black Americans were subjected to prejudice, and they were highly discriminated. They could not use the same facilities as the whites. Due to Civil Rights Movement, everyone was entitled to equal rights (Robnett, pg. 97). Blacks were allowed to vote, and segregation was abolished. The Women’s Rights Movement also played a very important role in advocating rights for women. Even though women were involved in fighting for the rights of African Americans, black men were allowed to vote, but women were prohibited from voting. Since women participated in advocating for these rights, they felt they were discriminated and hence formed their movement which fought for their rights and their wish was granted. All these acts significantly contributed to shaping America we have today where everybody has equal rights with no discrimination based on color, gender, religion or race.

Work Cited

Axinn, June, and Herman Levin. Social welfare: A history of the American response to need. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Berkeley, Kathleen C. The women’s liberation movement in America. Greenwood Press, 1999.

Robnett, Belinda. “African-American women in the civil rights movement, 1954-1965: Gender, leadership, and micromobilization.” American Journal of Sociology 101.6 (1996): 1661-1693.

Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom bound: A history of America’s civil rights movement. EP Dutton, 1990.

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