The term “civil rights” can be defined as rights guaranteed to any individual in a state. This guarantees that any person will have equal opportunity and the same right to protect themselves as others. The objective of supporting civil rights and ensuring that the governmental institutions protect them is to enable democracy within a state. The premise is that if all people have equal access to education, healthcare, and the ability to elect governmental officials, then the country is governed in a way that allows considering the interests of all of its citizens. Unlike other rights, these are not granted to people inherently, and a state must pledge the civil rights to its citizens. Civil Rights is a topic that has a long history in the United States.
Primary examples of these rights include the right to vote. For years, certain social groups were excluded in the United States and did not possess equal civil rights with others. These are women who gained a right to vote only in the 1920s and African Americans who were allowed to vote freely only in 1965. The latter group has a long history of experiencing discrimination and unfair treatment regarding their civil rights. Other examples are the right to receive governmental organizations’ services, have a fair trial if arrested for a crime, and receive an education.
Due to the obstacles that African-Americans faced over the years, this social group members initiated the Civil Rights Movement. Even after the government banned slavery statewide, its policies subjected African-Americans to segregation laws. The 1950s, in particular, is a period when racial segregation flourished in the South of the country. The case of Rosa Parks illustrates one issue that the Civil Rights Movement activists addressed — African-Americans could not sit in the section of a public transportation bus for the white citizens, and the driver could ask them to leave the bus if a white person did not have a place to sit.
An example of these obstacles includes not being able to vote, meaning that African-Americans living in a specific community could not elect an individual representing them and care for their interests. Before the Voting Rights Act, these citizens had to pass a literacy test and be subjected to an evaluation based on certain criteria to vote. Next, the issue of segregation was vividly demonstrated by separating places and public facilities into “colored” and “non-colored.” For example, although access to education is a universal civil right now, before the Civil Rights Acts, African-Americans could study only in schools designed for African-Americans, and they could not choose to go to a school with white students.
Some examples of the court rulings and critical decisions that changed the perception of Civil Rights include Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Brown v. Board of Education, Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, and others. The case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke has proven that affirmative action was unconstitutional. This is a practice of favoring a specific social group concerning policies and governmental decisions, which implies an exclusion of other social groups. In this court case, Bakke learned that students less qualified then her were admitted to medical school under its special admission program. While this court case did not abolish the practice of using color as a way of determining one’s worth or rights, it helped advance civil rights.
The Brown v. Board of Education was a case in which the court decided to end the segregation of children in schools as unconstitutional. Notably, one case that supported segregation was Plessy v. Ferguson, where the court established that if the segregation places were of the same quality, the practice could be upheld. From another perspective, women’s rights were discussed in the Roe v. Wade case about abortions.
Turning points in the history of the modern Civil Rights movement include Rosa Parks’ protest and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott, Little Rock Nine members trying to study at a formerly all-white school, Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts, Greensboro sit-ins, Freedom Riders, March on Washington. In most cases, the African-American community protested against not having the same opportunities and rights as other citizens. For example, Martin Luther King and his speech are remembered to this day for the remarkable way in which King explains his vision of an equal society in the United States.
Affirmative action ensures diversity and creates an environment where people of different backgrounds are accepted. Besides, it helps the disadvantaged community members or those who have been historically discriminated against, which are the main arguments in support of affirmative action. Arguments against affirmative action are connected to the favoring of one group before the other, which one can view as discrimination. Even if affirmative action targets the disadvantaged groups or discriminated against in the past, this practice still implies that one group is prioritized over the other, which goes against the definition of equality. Overall, this paper discusses civil rights, examples, the struggles of the African-American community, some turning points for the civil rights in the United States, and affirmative action.