Freedom has been an ever-changing concept in this country. The existence of slavery, shutting down non-violent peace rallies, women without the privilege to vote, and invasion of citizen’s privacy by the government; these are all examples of the evolution over perceptions of freedom. These are illustrations of freedom that we presently know of, that we were stripped of, or were not considered as our rights.
Freedom is being able to do things without the fear of being reprimanded, endure harsh punishment, or being faced with imprisonment. The famous words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” gave this country a strong slogan to begin its original cry for freedom. The fact that this country used men, women, and children from Africa as slaves did not seem to fall neatly into this grand concept. As in the 1950’s and 1960’s, if an African American desired to eat at a certain diner or ride a certain bus that did not allow “people of color”, they would be beaten or arrested. Martin Luther King tried several times to construct non-violent peace rallies that were shut down due to his race and cause. During these non-violent rallies African Americans were also beaten and arrested for speaking what they believed. African Americans today now have these freedoms that their ancestors only dreamed of and struggled so hard to achieve.
Just like prejudice towards African Americans, women were also denied certain freedoms. For example, women at one time did not have the freedom to vote. A courageous woman by the name Susan B. Anthony, who helped aid the movement to end slavery thought that women should have the right to vote. Ms. Anthony went from state to state giving speeches about this issue. She was able to convince a senator to propose an amendment to the constitution for women’s suffrage, which was shot down. Ms. Anthony fought to have this amendment proposed every year thereafter. She did not get to see this amendment pass in her lifetime. However, fourteen years later “The Nineteenth Amendment” guaranteed women their right to vote.
There are many ways to look at freedom. It is one of the most empowering aspects about living in America. If it were not for all of the hard work put forth by our ancestors to make this country free, we may still be living in an era without basic civil liberty, which helps to mold our society as it is today. Recently there has been some controversy regarding the government and its ability to invade the privacy of American homes. With the aid of modern technology and hi-tech cameras, the government now has the ability to see right in through your front window. The government is not giving the information to the American people about these invasions of privacy. This act is legal now due to the ignorance of the people and the fright of our homeland security. This right to privacy is in the “Fourth Amendment” and is slipping through the cracks, without the people knowing of it. I believe if we do not strive to educate ourselves to keep these freedoms that our ancestors worked so hard for, our ever-changing concept of this ideal may evolve backwards.