Civil Rights and Social Change Essay

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Q3. What was the purpose of Prohibition? Which groups and areas generally supported the movement? Why?

The purpose of Prohibition was ostensibly to reduce alcohol-related crimes and the suffering perpetrated by alcoholism on individuals, families (particularly women and children), and society as a whole. The Temperance Movement was widely supported by women’s rights activists and abolitionists throughout its existence. Yet it was largely made up of rural, native-born Protestants and there was also a strong anti-immigrant sentiment within the movement. The virulently racist Klu Klux Klan, for example, also supported Prohibition.

In urban locations, the sentiment towards Prohibition was far different. In general, religion was less influential in cities, and many people profited from selling alcohol. Also, for European immigrants, particularly those from Catholic countries, alcohol had a very important place in their cultural worldview. Although Prohibition may have seemed like a benign attempt to protect women and children from alcoholic husbands and to prevent lawlessness and violence from people of all ages consuming very strong liquor, there was also a clear socialization project behind it, an attempt to make immigrant groups more American in a very rigid and stereotypical manner.

A final group which came to support and profit from the Temperance Movement was that of organized crime. Given that people were unwilling to obey the law, criminal groups which offered access to alcohol grew in strength and power during this era. Corrupt police and politicians also profited from turning a blind eye to disobedience to the law. And thanks to a general decline in respect for the law and law enforcement because of hostility to Prohibition, crime increased as a whole.
Moonshine became popular in rural areas (manufactured in secret) while speakeasies and secret nightclubs where liquor was served became popular in cities. Defying the law became a fun, social experience and criminals were lionized rather than feared.

Q4. How did the Cold War impact the Civil Rights Movement? In what ways did the war help? How did it hurt?

Although World War II and the subsequent Cold War clearly led to a loss of life and many devastating incidents in the lives of innocent Americans, it did have some positive benefits for the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. As African-American servicemen made a substantial contribution to the war effort, the nation was effectively shamed into granting some measures of equality, including integration of the armed forces. The Cold War was also an ideological war, and America was likewise shamed into living up to its stated ideals of freedom and democracy to a greater degree, given the substantial criticism it made of the Soviet Union and its oppression of Warsaw Pact nations as well as its own people. De-colonialization also inspired many members of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. was directly inspired by Gandhi to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. There was a new upsurge of sympathetic legal thinking on the U.S.….....

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