Historical Discrimination: Trail of Tears and the Evolution of Solutions
Unveiling Discrimination: An Overview
Throughout history, discrimination has taken place across the United States. An abundance of people have been singled out, with many issues occurring. These challenges have affected black people, Japanese people, Native Americans, women, disabled, homosexuals, religious groups, and many more. Although these times were tough, the United States came up with many solutions to end discrimination.
Over the course of history, many acts of discrimination have occurred in our nation. Each and every event made an important impact on the United States. I narrowed those events down to five that I thought had great significance. I chose the Japanese relocation Camps, the ending of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the Trail of Tears, the 15th Amendment, and the Naturalization Act of 1790.
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A Nation Divided: The Impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1875
The one I thought had the worst impact on our society and ranked number one was the ending of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. This act gave equal protection to African Americans in public transport and public facilities. In 1883, it was declared unconstitutional during civil rights cases. With this being declared unconstitutional, it paved the way for more discrimination and segregation. Although the treatment of African Americans was unfair, the ending of this act justified that it was okay to treat them badly.
It gave society the idea that all people were not equal and could be treated differently, like the ruling of the court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. This court case established the ruling of “separate but equal,” which basically made segregation legal. With De Jure segregation, the treatment of blacks was brutal. They were excluded from everything and couldn’t do anything about it. Hate crimes and violence occurred towards blacks, and this court case made it “okay.” If this act had continued, then maybe some of the discrimination that happened in the United States towards African Americans would have never occurred.
Gender Struggles: The 15th Amendment and Its Implications
The next act of discrimination was the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment gave all males the right to vote, no matter their race. Some could argue this Amendment was a good thing, but it excluded women, half of the population! While men could have a voice in our society, women couldn’t. They didn’t get to vote on a leader they liked or the law they favored. The country was practically run by men, with women having no say. With this Amendment in action, the ruling of the court case of Bradwell vs. Illinois was passed in 1873. This stated that women should stay in the home and not work. It was saying that women were inferior and not worthy enough to have a “privilege” that a man had. It led to a long period of time where women were extremely discriminated against. Although it was very bad, it didn’t lead to brutality and violence towards women. Therefore, I ranked it second.
Displacement and Division: The Japanese Relocation Camps
The Japanese Relocation Camps was the next event I chose. This happened when the United States made anyone of Japanese ancestry move to concentration camps during World War II. The Japanese were held there for a long time, which impacted their lives tremendously. It took a toll on their health and psychological state of mind and challenged them financially. This showed that the United States would discriminate against a minority, even if they were causing no harm. This event was just the start of racial profiling. It began to happen to many more groups and is still done in the United States today. I ranked this event third because it singled out a certain group. However, the Japanese population was not as big as women.
The Trail of Tears was the next event I chose. The United States forced Native Americans to move from their homeland to a designated area in the West. The United States kicked the Native Americans out of their homeland so they could have land for themselves. The Native Americans helped us in founding this country, and yet the United States just pushed them to the side. This hurt their tribes tremendously over the course of time. Many people ended up dying, so there were hardly any Native American groups left. I ranked this event fourth because of how they got pushed aside by the United States. Therefore, it did not really lead to a significant act of discrimination that is taking place today.
Historical Constraints: The Naturalization Act of 1790
The last event I chose was the Naturalization Act of 1790. This act granted citizenship only to “free whites with good character.” This left out servants, slaves, and most women. It ended up limiting diversity within our society. It led to discrimination against these groups later on in history. I ranked this event fifth because the discrimination of certain groups happened. However, it did not really lead to fatalities.
Discrimination has never really ended in the United States. Our government has tried to resolve these issues with laws and acts. I narrowed these down to the five most important. I chose the Seneca Falls Convention, the court cases of Brown vs. Board of Education, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Affirmative Action Law, and the Indian Reorganization Act.
Empowering Women: The Seneca Falls Convention
The event I ranked number one was the Seneca Falls Convention. This convention was a gathering of women who adopted solutions for the abolition of legal, economic, and social discrimination. This led to the 19th Amendment, which gave them the right to vote. It not only gave them the right, but it also gave them equality and a voice. Nearly half of the population would now have a say in the way our country was governed. Women could eventually work and be treated with the respect they deserved all along. They pushed for equal pay in the workforce and even succeeded with the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The court case of Brown vs. Board of Education was the next event I chose. This court case led to desegregation within public facilities. This ultimately set the precedent for desegregation throughout the United States. It was the first time blacks were treated equally, and it was a pathway for them to receive full equality. Although it was a great establishment, I ranked it second because it didn’t fully end discrimination against African Americans.
The next act of great importance was the Americans with Disabilities Act. The act prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities. The disabled now receive more opportunities to do things with regulations put into effect. Places now have to be handicapped accessible so they can enjoy things just like anyone else. They are included and do not have to be denied access to places because of their disabilities. I ranked this event third because it gave so many opportunities to the disabled. Moreover, it did not help as many people as the case of Brown vs. Board.
The next thing that helped end discrimination was The Affirmative Action Law. This gave groups of people who were discriminated against in the past equal access to education. It did not fix what the United States did to minority groups, but it helped them achieve a better life. It provided them with an education they would have never received in the past. Many schools would now accept minorities before a majority race, which would give them a better chance for an education. I ranked this law fourth because it gave opportunities to many people. However, it only helped with discrimination in education.
The Indian Reorganization Act was the last thing I chose. This act gave Indians land, a credit system, rights, and an education. It gave them back what the United States took from them in the past. This allowed them to be seen as American citizens. It gave this group of people a voice and a new life. I ranked it fifth because it gave Native Americans restored hope and new opportunities in the United States. Moreover, it did not really justify how they were treated in the past.
Ultimately, the United State’s history of discrimination was disgraceful to many groups of minorities. They were singled out and pushed aside. New remedies to resolve these issues are being thought of daily. America has closed the gap of inequality over many decades of history.
- National Constitution Center. (2021). Civil Rights Cases (1883). Retrieved from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/civil-rights-cases-1883
- Library of Congress. (n.d.). 19th Amendment: Voting Rights. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/19thamendment.html
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Bradwell v. Illinois. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/83/130
- National Women’s History Museum. (n.d.). Bradwell v. Illinois. Retrieved from https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/myra-bradwell
- National Park Service. (n.d.). Japanese American Confinement Sites. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/subjects/justice/japanese-american-confinement-sites.htm
- National Park Service. (n.d.). Trail of Tears. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/trte/index.htm
- National Park Service. (n.d.). Seneca Falls Convention. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/seneca-falls-convention.htm
- United States Courts. (n.d.). Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Retrieved from https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/brown-board-education-1954
- U.S. Department of Justice. (n.d.). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Overview. Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm