” Civil rights is the term that refers to the right of every person to equal access to society’s opportunities and public facilities.”
Civil Rights in America
Civil rights is used to imply that the state has a positive role in ensuring all citizens equal protection under law and equal opportunity to exercise the privileges of citizenship and to participate fully in life regardless of race, sex, religion, or other characters unrelated to the value of the individual. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of civil rights is “the right s to personal liberty and to legal, economic, and social equality establish by amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by certain Congressional acts.” (Webster’s Dictionary page 94) Civil rights have to with whether individual members of differing groups- racial, sexual, and the like- are treated equally by government and, in some areas, by private parties. Civil rights deal with issues of equality among the American citizens.
The concept that human beings having inalienable rights and liberties that cannot be violated by others or the state is linked to the history of democracy. It was first expressed by the philosophers of ancient Greece. In theory, Americans are equal in their rights, but in reality, they are not now equal, nor have they ever been. African Americans, women, Hispanic Americans, the disabled, Jews, American Indians, Catholics, and members of nearly every other minority group have been victims of discrimination in fact and in law.
The nation’s creed- “all men are created equal”- has encouraged minorities
to believe that they deserve equal justice and has given weight to their claims. Inequality is built into almost every aspect of our society. Civil rights are any of the civil liberties guaranteed by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and the Civil Rights Acts of the Constitution. Civil rights are also protected under state constitutions and federal statutes that protect a person’s civil rights.
For example, African Americans with a correctable heart problem are only half as likely to receive the necessary surgery as are whites with the same problem. Disadvantaged groups had to struggle for equal rights. African Americans, women, Native Americans, and others have all had to fight for their rights in order to come closer to equality with white males. Americans have attained substantial equality under the law. They have, in legal terms, equal protection of the laws, equal access to accommodations and housing, and equal right to vote. Legal equality for all Americans has not resulted in de facto equality. African Americans, women, Hispanic Americans, and other disadvantaged groups have a small share of America’s opportunities and benefits.
The history of America shows that disadvantaged groups have rarely achieved greater measure of justice without a struggle. Legal equality has been rarely bestowed by the more powerful upon the less powerful. Their gains have rarely always occurred through intense and sustained political movements, such as the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
America’s disadvantaged groups have made significant progress toward equal rights, particularly during the past few decades. Through acts of Congress
and rulings of the Supreme Court, most forms of government-sponsored discrimination from racially segregated public schools to gender-based pension plans- have been banned.
However, because civil rights policy involves large issues of social values and the distribution of society’s resources, questions of civil rights are politically explosive. In recent years, affirmative action programs- designed to achieve equality of result for African Americans, women, Hispanic Americans, and other disadvantaged groups- have become a civil rights battleground. Affirmative action has had strong support of civil rights groups and has won the qualified endorsements of the Supreme Court but has been opposed by those who claim that it unfairly discriminates against white males. Discrimination and civil rights is a big issue in our society right now and I think it will continue to be an issue for decades to come. It always has been part of our history.
WORKS CITED PAGE
Altman, Andrew “Civil Rights”, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
Campbell, Michael Civil Rights Page
Sowell, Thomas. “Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality?”
1st ed. William Morrow and Company 1984
Lamb, Annette and Johnson, Larry. August 2001