Policy of separating people in public and private places based on race. Usually refers to the southern United States from the Civil War until the 1960??™s; however, many parts of the US were segregated by law in both race and in gender.
a) Plessy vs. Ferguson Revisited: ???Separate but Equal:???
b) ???Jim Crow??? Revisited:
On June 7, 1892, a 30-year-old colored shoemaker named Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the “White” car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy was only one-eighths black and seven-eighths white, but under Louisiana law, he was considered black and therefore required to sit in the “Colored” car.
Plessy went to court and argued, in Homer Adolph Plessy v. The State of Louisiana, that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The judge at the trial was John Howard Ferguson, a lawyer from Massachusetts who had previously declared the Separate Car Act “unconstitutional on trains that traveled through several states” . In Plessys case, however, he decided that the state could choose to regulate railroad companies that operated only within Louisiana.
He found Plessy guilty of refusing to leave the white car. Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which upheld Fergusons decision. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States heard Plessys case and found him guilty once again. Speaking for a seven-person majority, Justice Henry Brown wrote:
“That [the Separate Car Act] does not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery…is too clear for argument…A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races — a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races, and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color — has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races…The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either.”
The Jim Crow laws and this Supreme Court decision cemented the idea in America society that certain people were indeed superior to others based on race and national origin. ???Jim Crow Laws??? and segregation would be the norm in the United States until after World War II.
II. Post-War Steps toward Desegregation
President Harry S Truman, although a southerner and exposed to segregation all his life, was confronted by the prospect that segregation in the military specifically, and government in general, was an inefficient proposition at best. He began to push the Congress, as well as his cabinet that for cost cutting reasons, as well as his own convictions, that the days of segregation were numbered, and that reform was necessary. The Congress though, and the Democratic Party were opposed to these reforms and prevented Truman desegregation ideals from being passed as laws. He did however start the movement in the executive branch. Society was slow to follow.
a) Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia in 1919, but grew up in a California that regularly participated in segregation. Jackie faced racism every day of his life but as a youth he became one of the finest athletes in California school history, lettering in baseball, football, basketball, and track in both high school and college and regularly outperformed his white counterparts. In 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey decided to take a major chance and signed Robinson to a contract in the Major Leagues. No other African American had ever played baseball in anything other than the ???Negro??? leagues. Robinson endured terrible name calling, wild pitches, spikers, and death threats his first year. His skills, however, quieted most as he was able to secure the National League Pennant for the Dodgers and was named Rookie of the Year. Today, his number 42 is retired in all of Major League baseball.
b) Truman desegregation of the military
President Truman was unsuccessful getting any civil right legislation through Congress mostly because of southern opposition. In retaliation for Congress??™ narrow views, he began to de-segregate the Executive Branch which, of course, Congress had no control over. The first move was to order all units in the military to become integrated and he dissolved any and all ???Black??? units. These moves probably won him re-election to the presidency as he won most of the black vote in a very close 1948 election. African-American turnout in this election was an all time high.
c) Adam Clayton Powell, Senior and Junior
Powell, Sr. was born in Franklin County, Virginia, on May 5, 1865. His parents had been slaves. He was one of the most famous African-American churchmen of his time. In 1885, he decided to study law and politics. He attended Virginia Union University from 1888 to 1892 and graduated from the theological and academic departments. He pastored several churches in various cities such as St. Paul, Philadelphia, and New Haven, where he was a special student at Yale Divinity School before being named pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, in December of 1908.
He was a founder of the National Urban League, an early leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and was one of the organizers of the Silent Protest Parade. Reverend Powell was a proponent of racial pride and believed in education and hard work. His son, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was the first African-American to represent New York in Congress.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr ran for New York City Council. With the backing of his congregation and many community groups, he won the election and was the first African American to do so. In 1944, he became the first Black congressman from the Eastern seaboard since the time of Reconstruction. Adam made sure his presence was felt and his voice was heard throughout the halls of Congress. He fought for an anti-lynching bill, battled against Dixiecrats, advocated for civil rights, school integration, and supported the War Against Poverty. Powells congressional career lasted almost three decades and he was responsible for many of the integration measures at the United States Capitol.
d) School Integration: Brown vs. Board of Education, 1954
On May 17, 1954, in the case of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court ended federally sanctioned racial segregation in the public schools by ruling unanimously that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” A groundbreaking case, Brown not only overturned the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had declared “separate but equal facilities” constitutional, but also provided the legal foundation of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Although widely perceived as a revolutionary decision, Brown was in fact the culmination of changes both in the Court and in the strategies of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Supreme Court had become more liberal in the years since it decided Plessy, largely due to appointments by Democratic Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman. Though still all-white, the Court had issued decisions in the 1930s and 1940s that rendered racial separation illegal in certain situations.
Now consolidated under the name Brown v. Board of Education, the five cases came before the Supreme Court in December, 1952. The lead attorney on the case Thurgood Marshall and his colleagues wrote that states had no valid reason to impose segregation, that racial separation ??” no matter how equal the facilities ??” caused psychological damage to black children, and that “restrictions or distinctions based upon race or color” violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren and read on May 17, 1954, was short and straightforward. It echoed Marshalls expert witnesses, stating that for African American schoolchildren, segregation “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.” The decision went on to say that segregation had no valid purpose, was imposed to give blacks lower status, and was therefore unconstitutional based on the Fourteenth Amendment.
e) Justice Thurgood Marshall
Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. In 1930, he applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but was denied admission because he was Black. This was an event that was to haunt him and direct his future professional life. Thurgood sought admission and was accepted at the Howard University Law School that same year.
Thurgood Marshall went to New York and later became Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During this period, Mr. Marshall was asked by the United Nations and the United Kingdom to help draft the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania.
After amassing an impressive record of Supreme Court challenges to state-sponsored discrimination, including the landmark Brown v. Board decision in 1954, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In this capacity, he wrote over 150 decisions including support for the rights of immigrants, limiting government intrusion in cases involving illegal search and seizure, double jeopardy, and right to privacy issues.
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson appointed Judge Marshall to the office of U.S. Solicitor General. Before his subsequent nomination to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, Thurgood Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the government. Indeed, Thurgood Marshall represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American.
Justice Marshall died on January 24, 1993.
III. Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks
Some historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to December 1, 1955. That was the day when an unknown seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. This brave woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance, but her lonely act of defiance began a movement that ended legal segregation in America, and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere.
The bus incident led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company. The boycott lasted 382 days and brought Mrs. Parks, Dr. King, and their cause to the attention of the world. A Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.
IV. Southern ???massive resistance???
The southern states were not going to give up their way of life to equal rights so easily and many defied federal laws designed to desegregate society.
a) Federal Troops open schools in Little Rock, Arkansas
Although most school districts at least attempted to integrate following the Supreme Courts Brown v. Board of Education decision, some school districts, particularly those in the Deep South, actively avoided desegregation. One of the most famous cases involved Little Rocks Central High School, where Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus joined local whites in resisting integration by dispatching the Arkansas National Guard to block the nine black students from entering the school. President Dwight Eisenhower responded by sending federal troops to protect the students. The crisis in Little Rock showed America that the president could and would enforce court orders with federal troops. When eight of the nine black students successfully completed the school year, they showed America that black students could and would endure the intense hatred that racist white students could dump on them. It was a big step towards integration and an important one, even though it caused nine brave teenagers unspeakable pain.
On September 2, 1957, the day before the nine black students were to enter Central High, National Guardsmen surrounded the school. In a televised speech that night, Governor Orval Faubus explained that he had called the National Guardsmen because he had heard that white supremacists from all over the state were descending on Little Rock. He declared Central off-limits to blacks and Horace Mann, the black high school, off-limits to whites. He also proclaimed that if the black students attempted to enter Central, “blood would run in the streets.”
On September 20, 1957 Judge Ronald N. Davies granted NAACP lawyers Thurgood Marshall and Wiley Branton an injunction that prevented Governor Faubus from using the National Guard to deny the nine black students admittance to Central High. Faubus announced that he would comply with the court order, although he hoped that the black students would choose to stay away from Central until integration could occur without violence.
On Monday, September 23, 1957 the nine black students, often called “The Little Rock Nine” set off for Central High. Meanwhile, the mob outside the school beat several black reporters there to cover the event. The reporters were saved when word came that the black students had entered the school. The mob went crazy. Mothers yelled to their children, “Come out! Dont stay in there with those niggers!” Inside the school, the black students became the brunts of various jokes. White students spat on them, tripped them, and yelled insults. More serious problems were to come. By 11:30, the city police surrounding the school felt that they could no longer control the mob. The students had to leave the school through a rear entrance. To later ensure that the Little Rock Nine could complete a full day of classes, President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock. The 101st patrolled outside the school and escorted the black students into the school. In addition, the black students were assigned a personal guard from the 101st who followed them around the school.
Time passed but acceptance was slow.
b) Medgar Evers
Medgar Wiley Evers was born July 2, 1925, near Decatur, Mississippi, and attended school there until he was inducted into the army in 1943. He received his B.A. degree from Alcorn State University and moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi, during which time Evers began to establish local chapters of the NAACP throughout the Delta and organizing boycotts of gasoline stations that refused to allow blacks to use their restrooms.
Evers and his wife moved to Jackson, where they worked together to set up the NAACP office, and he began investigating violent crimes committed against blacks and sought ways to prevent them. His boycott of Jackson merchants in the early 1960s attracted national attention, and his efforts to have James Meredith admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962 brought much-needed federal help for which he had been soliciting. Meredith was admitted to Ole Miss, a major step in securing civil rights in the state, but an ensuing riot on campus left two people dead, and Evers??™ involvement in this and other activities increased the hatred many people felt toward Evers.
On June 12, 1963, as he was returning home, Medgar Evers was killed by an assassin??™s bullet. Black and white leaders from around the nation came to Jackson for his funeral and then gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for his interment. Following his death, his brother, Charles, took over Medgar??™s position as state field secretary for the NAACP. The accused killer, a white supremacist named Byron De La Beckwith, stood trial twice in the 1960s, but in both cases the all-white juries could not reach a verdict. Finally, in a third trial in 1994 (and thirty-one years after Evers??™ murder), Beckwith was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
c) Alabama Gov. George Wallace
George Wallace, the son of a farmer, was born in Clio, Alabama, on 25th August 1919. He studied at the University of Alabama and received his law degree in 1942.
During the campaign to become governor of Alabama in 1962 he told audiences that if the federal government sought to integrate Alabamas schools, “I shall refuse to abide by any such illegal federal court order even to the point of standing in the schoolhouse door.” Wallace campaign was popular with the white voters and he easily won the election.
In June 1963, Wallace blocked the enrollment of African American students at the University of Alabama. Similar actions in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile made him a national figure and one of the countrys leading figures against the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King told one journalist in 1963 that Wallace was “perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today.”
Wallace continued to resist the demands of John F. Kennedy and the federal government to integrate the Alabamas education system. On 5th September he ordered schools in Birmingham to close and told the New York Times that in order to stop integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”
A week later a bomb exploded outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four schoolgirls who had been attending Sunday school classes. Twenty-three other people were also hurt by the blast.
In February, 1968, Wallace announced his intention of standing as an independent candidate for president. His hostility to civil rights legislation won him support from white voters in the Deep South and won Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Although he won over 9 million votes he came third to Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.
In 1970 Wallace won a landslide victory for a second term as governor of Alabama. Two years later he once again campaigned for the presidency. While speaking at a meeting in Maryland he was shot and partially paralyzed by Arthur Bremer, a deranged white man.
After a long spell in hospital Wallace was able to return to politics. He apologized for his previous stance of civil rights and during the 1982 election won the governorship with substantial support from African American voters.
Ill health forced Wallace to retire from politics in 1987. He continued his support of integration and in March, 1995, Wallace attended the re-enactment of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march. George Wallace died on 13th September, 1998.
V. Nonviolent challenges to segregation: ???We Shall Overcome???
???We Shall Overcome??? was a rally song/chant used in most non-violent protests and has become the musical symbol of the civil rights movement. The song originates in mid-1800??™s gospel music.
a) Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins
One of the most common tactics used by civil rights protestors was to purposely break the laws of segregation. Woolworth stores had a company wide policy that required lunch counters to be segregated. In reality, there was no ???black??? section in many of these stores??”only ???white.??? Many hundreds of protestors purposely sat at these counters so that they would be arrested. Many times, these protestors invited the press to attend to draw attention to their causes. American watching on television became outraged at the treatment of the protestors, who were many times beaten by the police.
b) Freedom-Riders; CORE
Certain areas of the south were more radical about segregation than others. Civil rights organizers from all over the US began to bus large quantities of protestors into the south to purposely break Jim Crow laws. CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) was one such organization that sent buses to the south. People who wanted to continue segregation and stop the protestors would stop these buses. Some buses were set on fire and many people were arrested. The media began to ride along with the protestors and even more national attention was focused on the movement.
c) Black voter registration drives
Dr. King and many other black leaders believed that since the current Congress would not enact civil rights legislation, that they could affect change by changing the Congress. King and others organized huge registration drives for African-Americans all across the nation and challenged ???literacy tests??? in many areas of the country as well. This movement would also stimulate the ideal of a constitutional amendment to create a nationwide eighteen year old voting age.
d) Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Tuesday, January 15, 1929. He grew up in and around Atlanta and he graduated from Morehouse College there with a bachelors degree in Sociology in 1948, and from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1951. He received his Ph.D. in Systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. He was awarded over twenty degrees during his life time and was the youngest person ever to earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. His whole life was devoted to equal rights and he was arrested, beaten, and put in jail many times in his life for his beliefs. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, while preparing to lead a local march in support of the heavily-black Memphis sanitation workers union. Friends inside the apartment heard the shot fired and ran to the balcony to find King shot in the jaw. He was pronounced dead several hours later. James Earl Ray, a white supremiscist, was convicted of the assassination and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
1) Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Organization started by Dr. King that recruited as many Christians as possible, both Black and White, to join civil rights marches, rallies, etc.
2) March on Washington: ???I Have a Dream??? speech
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a political rally that took place on August 28, 1963. It was organized principally by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. During this March, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
3) ???Letter from Birmingham Jail???
The Letter From Birmingham Jail was an letter dated April 16, 1963 written by Dr. King. King wrote the letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama after a peaceful protest of segregation. The letter is a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen on April 12, 1963. It is consider a classic of American literture today.
4) Selma to Montgomery March
King attempted to organize a march which was intended to go from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama starting on March 25, 1965. The first attempt on March 7 was delayed due to mob and police violence against the demonstrators. The day has since become known as Bloody Sunday. The second attempt at the march, on March 9, was ended when King stopped the march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma. The march finally went ahead fully on March 25 with the agreement and support of President Johnson.
VI. President Johnson and the Civil Rights Movement
President Johnson basically took the ideas of the Kennedy administration related to civil rights and desegregation and expanded them.
a) The Great Society: War on Poverty; Medicare
Johnson pushed through Congress a bill that cut taxes by 11.5 billion dollars. This tax relief was geared at the poorest people in the US. A new program called Medicare was added to the Social Security Acts that gave the poorest people in the US medical care at free or reduced cost. He called his program The Great Society.
b) Civil Rights Act of 1964
President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a group of eleven ???Titles??? that as a group outlawed discrimination in public facilities; authorized the attorney general to prosecute any school district that doesn??™t desegregate; stopped federal tax dollars from going to states that didn??™t desegregate; and required voting standards to be the same in the states. (This last piece didn??™t work so well, thus??¦.)
c) Voter Rights Act of 1965
The Voter Rights Act of 1965 took a piece of the Civil Rights Act and further defined certain rules. The Voter Rights Act banned literacy tests and authorized the federal government (NOT the states) to supervise elections where necessary.
d) Affirmative Action
Laws and programs designed during The Great Society to provide women and minorities with greater opportunities in employment, business, and education.
VII. African American militance
Many Blacks, now very angry and resentful of the violence given to them during the civil rights movement moved away from the ideas of peaceful resistance offered by Dr. King and endorsed a more radical approach saying fight violence with violence.
a) Malcolm X
Malcolm X also known as: Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and Omowale) was a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and a founder of both the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He was assassinated in February 1965. During his life, Malcolm evolved from being a street-wise hoodlum to one of the most prominent militant black nationalist leaders born in the United States, ultimately rising to become a world renowned Pan-Africanist. He explained the name he chose by saying ???To take one??™s ???X??™ is to take on a certain mystery, a certain possibility of power in the eyes of one??™s peers and one??™s enemies.??? He further stated that ???Little??? was the name given to him by slave owners.
b) Black Power
The first person to use the term Black Power in its political context was Robert F. Williams, a writer and publisher of the 1950s and 60s. The movement for Black Power in the U.S. came during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. Many African Americans were becoming critical of the political line articulated by Martin Luther King Jr., among others, which advocated non-violent resistance to racism, and the ultimate goal of desegregation. Some thought that Africans in the U.S. would be dominated by whites as long as they were citizens of a majority white nation. Many moved away from King??™s ideal of non-violance and formed more radical groups.
c) Black Panthers
The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a revolutionary Black nationalist organization in the United States that formed in the late 1960s and grew to national prominence before falling apart due to factional rivalries stirred up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is best known for its Free Breakfast for Children program, its use of the term “Pigs” to describe police officers and for once carrying guns on the floor of the California Assembly.
d) Assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy
Dr King: See previous section(s) on life and notes on Dream video (if you took any??¦).
Robert F. Kennedy:
U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. At the time he was killed, Kennedy had just won the June 4 Democratic Presidential primaries in South Dakota and California, making him the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President during the 1968 presidential election. He died the next day, on June 6.
The convicted assassin, 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan B. Sirhan, attributed the killing to Kennedys support for Israel during the Six-Day War. On March 3, 1969, in a Los Angeles, California court, Sirhan admitted that he had killed Kennedy. Sirhan was sentenced to life in prison.
VIII. Social and Environmental Activism
Throughout the 1960??™s and 1970??™s, concerns in the American public grew dramatically about the conditions of ???minorities??? and the environment. Pollution was a problem in big cities:
a) The Feminist Movement, ???Women??™s Liberation.???
Women all over the United States began to protest for equal pay, equal rights, and started movements model after the success of the Civil Rights movement.
1) Betty Friedan: NOW
Betty was the founder of the National Organization for Women, and became its first president in 1966. She wrote several popular books on the discrimination against women in the US. Her ideals came out of the fact that she was fired from a newspaper after she became pregnant in the 1950??™s; and was unable to continue in the workplace.
2) Roe vs. Wade
Major Supreme Court decision that states most abortion laws as of the time of the case (!973) violate the constitutional right to privacy??”a relationship between people and their doctors specifically. The case therefore allowed abortions, which were illegal in many states, could be allowed.
3) The ERA
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed constitutional amendment stating no laws could be made that discriminated based upon gender. It has never passed both the Congress and the states, with most opposition saying the 14th Amendment and other civil rights era laws were better than the amendment. (The amendment was first proposed in 1923.)
b) Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers
Cesar was a labor activist and founder of the United Farm Workers Union. An Hispanic American, he worked hard for equal rights for migrant workers and other immigrants for Latin America. Chavez followed Dr. King??™s philosophies of non-violent protests and organized boycotts, strikes, etc. to draw attention to the poor wages and working conditions found by Hispanics in the United States.
c) Native American Indian Movement
As with other civil rights era movement, Native American organizations began to work together to improve the standings of member tribes. The movements were the result of long standing conflicts with the US government and states. Many tribes formed the AIM (American Indian Movement.)
1) Second Wounded Knee
The American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the Pine Ridge Reservation near Wounded Knee in protest against the federal government on February 27, 1973. A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the AIM ensued. The militants surrendered on May 8. Historians now call this the Second Wounded Knee because in December of 1890, the US army killed over 300 Native Americans in Wounded Knee, South Dakota after an uprising against white settlers by the Natives.
2) US Government??™s recognition of Native American right to
By the mid 1970??™s the US Congress had passed several laws that stated Native American had the right to create their own culture on areas designated ???reservations.??? The laws passed by Congress finally allowed Native American tribes to create their own assemblies and pass certain types of laws that are independent of state and federal laws.
The ideals of several groups formed to fight the continue destruction of the environment as the result of human actions.
1) Rachel Carson and Silent Spring
Rachel Louise Carson was a zoologist and biologist whose landmark book, Silent Spring is often credited with having launched the global environmental movement, and undoubtedly had an immense effect in the United States, where it brought about a reversal in national pesticide policy. Carson??™s research showed that certain pesticides used in the US caused massive harm to humans, animals, and the environment in general.
2) EPA; Endangered Species Act; Clean Air and Water Acts
The mission of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment: air, water, and land, as long as it does not interfere with economic interests. The EPA began operation on December 2, 1970. The EPA was created as a result of the environmental movements of the 1960??™s
3) Love Canal; Three Mile Island; Chernobyl; Exxon Valdez
The Love Canal is a neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York that was named after one of the first settlers who thought about building a canal from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.
In the 1920??™s the area began to be used a dumping ground for all kinds of waste products from industry, including chemical and toxic items, by regional companies and the US government. Most people who moved to the area were never informed and schools, homes, and businesses were built in the area.
In 1976, Lois Gibbs, the president of the Love Canal Homeowners Association, led a community concerned about the health of its residents. The neighborhood had an extremely high rate of cancer, and an alarming number of birth defects. Children at the 99th Street School were constantly ill. With further investigation, Gibbs discovered the chemical danger of the adjacent canal. This began her organizations three year fight to prove that the toxins buried by Hooker Chemical were responsible for the health problems of local residents.
Eventually President Carter ordered a federal cleanup of the area and medical payments to the residents.
Three Mile Island is an island in the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The name is most commonly associated with an accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station on March 28, 1979, when reactor number 2 suffered a partial core meltdown and released nuclear radiation into the air.
Although only a small amount of radiation was released, an investigation ordered by President Carter found that the plant, as well as many other nuclear plants around the United States, needed serious upgrading to prevent the accident from happening again.
In contrast the the Three Mile Island accident, the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine completed exploded in April of 1986, releasing huge amounts of radiation into the air, about 400 times more radiation than the Hiroshima bomb. More than 200,000 people had to be evacuated from the area and radiation floated all around the earth.
Exxon Valdez was the original name of an oil tanker owned by the Exxon oil company. The ship was renamed to Sea River Mediterranean after the March 24, 1989 oil spill in which the tanker hit Prince William Sounds Bligh Reef and spilled between 11 million and 35 million US gallons of crude oil; this was the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The largest oil spill ever killed thousand of animals in the area. Exxon was eventually fined and paid out over one billion dollars in fines when it was discovered the tanker was not safe and the accident could have been avoided.