The Progressive Movement came about when urbanization and industrialization rapidly evolved in the end of the 19th century after millions of Americans migrated to urban areas in the late 1800s. In addition to the masses of Americans descending to the cities multitudes of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe also arrived bring new sets of societal obstacles.
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In the beginning stages the progressives held the firm belief that the problems in American society were the direct result of a lack of education, unsafe environment, inefficient workplace, and a corrupt government
One huge problem was the steady acts of racism brought against African Americans, especially public segregation and the denial of rights especially having the right to vote in elections. African Americans were discriminated against in many areas such as housing, education, and healthcare. Many progressives were skeptical of racial inequality. Prominent African Americans such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois brought differing ideas about how to combat the issues facing blacks. Washington pushed education and knowledge instead of fighting. Du Bois, however, formed the Niagara Movement and eventually the NAACP encouraging African Americans to fight against decimation and for racial equality. The handful of African American organizations did find success affording blacks better housing, educational services, and healthcare.
Another major change during the Progressive Movement was the move to end what was considered women’s suffrage. Although coeducation had been brought to many colleges and universities prior to the Progressive Era there was a push to keep it going. As women became more educated the job market opened raising the number of married women working outside the home and showing a rise in the divorce rate. These changes did not set well with the male population. Although equal pay for equal work made a short appearance it soon went by the way side. Protestant fundamentalists also fought the women’s movement believing women should be subservient and bear babies. For the most part men believed a woman’s place was in the home waiting on her husband and tending to the children. It was very difficult for women to be taken seriously or even heard when it came to women’s rights.
Eventually, however, the long battle for women’s suffrage did find successes with the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Woman’s Peace Party, two powerful women’s groups. Each of these groups was very different than the other, the NAWSA being less confrontational than the Women’s Peace Party. The major changes brought by these two groups were women’s right to vote and to run for office.
Prohibition came about in the Progressive Era which prevented the manufacture and sale of alcohol.
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