Monday, June 20, 2011

Analysis of US History Articles

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The articles I have chosen to write about are from chapter 7, titled Uncertain Trumpets, of A More Perfect Union. The first article I read was Brown v. The Board of Education Topeka, by Earl Warren, the chief justice of the Supreme Court at the time. Warren had practiced law before joining the army in World War I, after which he embarked on a successful political career in California, serving as a district attorney, attorney general, and then governor. President Eisenhower then appointed him to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, where his leadership brought an unexpected burst of judicial activism that strengthened the rights of many people, including minorities, voters, and trial defendants.

This article is about a lawsuit brought before the Supreme Court in 1954 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) entitled Brown v. the Board of Education Topeka. The lawsuit was brought to fight against the segregation and racial inequalities in schools and other public facilities that had occurred after the Court had ruled that separate but equal facilities were legal in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The NAACP’s fight for equality was encouraged by a Supreme Court ruling in favor of integration of southern law schools a year earlier, in which the justices acknowledged that segregated schools were inherently unequal because they denied opportunities to those excluded.

The purpose of the article is to reinforce the Court’s ruling that public education “is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms”. Warren’s goal is to explain to the public its necessary commitment to equal education for all citizens, and he succeeds by introducing psychological studies in favor of his argument and by explaining how the segregation of public facilities was depriving black citizens of the quality granted to them by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The second article I chose to write about is the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Friedan was a college educated wife, mother, and magazine contributor when she began to analyze and interview housewives in the early 1960’s. The result of her groundbreaking research was her book the Feminine Mystique, an instant bestseller that catapulted her to the forefront of the women’s movement. She later became the founding president of the National Organization for Women and became a strong political activist for women’s rights and interests.

Betty Friedan wrote her book to address millions of women during their struggle for liberation and to attack “the mass media for brainwashing women into models of domesticity”. She addresses women who give the image of being a happy housewife, whose only occupation and concerns were cooking, cleaning, and sewing, to inform them that there are others like them who share their feelings of being empty and incomplete.

The purpose of this excerpt is to inform housewives that they are not alone in their feelings of wanting something more out of life, and to open public discussions about a hidden, yet serious, problem. She writes “We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home “”.

The third article I chose to write about is Roe v. Wade, by Harry Blackmun, a Supreme Court Justice at the time. Blackmun, a Harvard Law school graduate and moderate Republican, was first appointed to the federal judiciary by President Eisenhower in 1965, and was later promoted to the Supreme Court in 1970.

This article concerns the historic Supreme Court decision, which ruled restrictive state abortion laws unconstitutional, and its purpose is to reinforce and explain the reasoning behind the Court’s ruling. The purpose is to detail the reasoning to justices used to come to their ruling. The article explains that restrictive state abortion statutes are an invasion of a pregnant woman’s rights by violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which provides “personal liberty”. Blackmun begins his article by discounting the three reasons commonly given to justify limiting abortion access, and he then continues on to explain in full a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. He succeeds in providing strong backing for the Court’s decision.

The fourth article I chose to read is titled Position Paper of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Stokely Carmichael principally authored it after he became chairman of SNCC in 166. Martin Luther King, Jr., had originally founded SNCC in 1960 with a philosophy of nonviolence, but it changed greatly under Carmichael’s leadership. “SNCC dropped “Nonviolent” from its name and its leaders urged angry blacks to undertake a militant black-power position”. The purpose of the article is to influence black readers to free themselves from a white-dominated society and to organize in black-only groups. It states, “Too long have we allowed white people to interpret the importance and meaning of our society,”. The SNCC paper succeeds in part by prompting vigorous debate, and also by forcefully and passionately getting their view across.

The fifth article I read is Playboy Interviews Germaine Greer. It is an excerpt of a Playboy magazine interview with the author after she published her book the Female Eunuch, with advocated more uninhibited female sexuality.

All of these articles were placed together in the same chapter, Uncertain Trumpets, because indeed they all represent calls for new rights in a uncertain and changing American society. They are all about fights for minorities, whether it be blacks or women.

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