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Comparison of The Civil Rights Movement with The Suffragette Movement

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Suffragette movement launched by British women is to fight for the voting right between 1897 and 1918. And Civil Rights movement in America led by African Americans aims to end racial segregation between 1950 and 1968. These two movements share the similar aim, gaining equal rights, for suffragettes fight for equal voting right with men while the black stand up equal treatment with the white. However, compared with Suffragette movement, Civil Rights movement is more effective on account for the methods used, the responses of public and the final achieved outcomes.

In terms of the method, Civil Rights movement adopts a nonviolent method while Suffragette movement puts to use militant ways. On the one hand, towards the law, behaving under law is one of the important factors in demonstrating effectiveness. According to Shippy, African Americans “secure the rights through bringing attention to losses of equality without breaking the law”. For example, Montgomery Bus Boycott shows African Americans fought for their rights by just walking rather than illegal actions. On the contrary, as Riddell once said, directed by the Pankhurst leadership in Suffragette movement, the attacks were designed to terrorize the government by threats and violence, which severely break the law (2018). Law is an organized way to consolidate the society in an orderly environment and protect people’s rights. Therefore, the respect of African Americans for law is “impressive to good citizens of a free society” (Shippy, 2005) while breaking law is intolerable as a result of violating public’s rights.

On the other hand, towards ethics, “attracting attention without compromising morality” is another element to show effectiveness of Civil Rights movement (Shippy, 2005). Martin Luther King inspired the public through giving speeches in a moral way for seeking support. Kenneth once admired that “King and the movement are inspirational symbols for oppressed groups worldwide” (2018). Actually, they could have rallied against society in violent approaches, but they didn’t, because there was a moral yardstick in their mind that reminded them of not destroying property or hurting people. By contrast, in Britain, hundreds of women wandered in the streets, cried out, smashed windows, slashed paintings and even blew up buildings, which was immoral in injuring innocent people and damaging the infrastructure property. Therefore, in terms of the law and morality aspects, Civil Rights movement is more effective than Suffragette movement in the methods used.

When referring to the responses of public, supports from government and ordinary people are representations of effectiveness of two movements. From government’s point, for instance, American government responded positively, taking related actions in desegregating schools, buses, and some public places to satisfy the equality of African Americans. Especially, president Eisenhower sent federal troops to enable 9 black students to go to school. Nevertheless, in Britain, some suffragettes were arrested and imprisoned by government in this movement, which reflected their negative responses. Actions of government are like guiding social norms, to some extents, which set an example to public, so government’s positive attitude is bound to fuel the success of movements.

From ordinary people’s point, Civil Rights movement gains a large followings while Suffragette movement makes public dreadful. African Americans and even many white people were greatly inspired and resisted against the discrimination. Whereas as Kligman shows in Suffragette movement, “the public began to disapprove of the suffragettes even though most people supported them before rampant militancy”. From the above two aspects, it is apparent to think out that those who win the hearts of the public win the world. To improve the efficiency of winning the movement and to maintain equal rights, people must pay more attention to the relationship with the public and obtain the support of people’s groups. Otherwise, irrational reactions would deprive campaigners of the hearts of people and greatly destroy the foundation on which gaining rights. As a result, the Civil Rights movement is more effective when more people are united.

Finally, the achieved results of each movement demonstrate the powerfulness of Civil Rights movement. In Suffragette movement, women won the voting rights in 1918 , but it was not enough because only women over 30 had this right. Nonetheless, according to Tyler (2017), in Civil Rights movement, “between 1964 and 1968, at least four major civil rights acts were passed”. Especially, each act was designed to strive for the equality like voting rights, education rights, and housing rights of African Americans. In fact, the effectiveness of movements straightforwardly depends on achieving the original goal. Suffragette movement fails to achieve the goal due to the incompleteness of the right. Also, the death and injury of few people also hint at the inefficiency of the results. However, Civil Rights movement achieves the major destination of ending legalized segregation in America and according to Tyler, since then, there has not been any legal segregation and overt discrimination has faded as well.

To be honest, the comparison of this essay is made between Civil Rights movement and Suffragette movement is limited in time period. Some people argue that Civil Rights movement became radical and was still resistant by the white in the later period, but the fact was that the major purpose of this movement came true. And now in America, thanks to this movement, the number of blacks in higher education and in public office has increased significantly, as well as the prevalence of multiculturalism. In the similar way, although suffragettes finally achieved the overall equal vote rights, just in that period, as Holton (1996) described, “the violence in which the WSPU indulged can be seen as a setback which might have delayed votes for women for a decade or even twenty years”.

In conclusion, compared with two movements, in terms of the methods used that refer to law and morality, the responses of government and ordinary people, and the achieved results at that time, Civil Rights movement is more effective than Suffragette movement. Admittedly, nowadays, British women all have the voting rights in case the voting condition is met; however, the resistance and inferior attitudes towards black people still exist in America, so we expect a more equal and tolerable American society in the future.


  1. Holton, S. (1996) Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women’ s Suffrage Movement London: Krista Cowman
  2. Kenneth, D. (2018) “The Effects of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s” Classroom
  3. Kligman, M. (1996) “The Effect of Militancy in the British Suffragette Movement” British Library
  4. Riddell, F. (2018) “Suffragettes, Violence and Militancy” British Library
  5. Shippy, P. (2005) “The Effectiveness of Nonviolent Methods in the Fight for Liberty” Freedom’s Foundations
  6. Tyler, W. (2017) “An Analysis of the Success of the Civil Rights Movement” University Libraries

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Comparison Of The Civil Rights Movement With The Suffragette Movement. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from
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