Free «Civil Rights» Essay Sample
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Civil rights are constitutional provisions of a democratic state, which accord inalienable fundamental liberties, power, privileges or entitlements to legitimate citizens. For the United States’ national purpose, the 13th and 14th constitutional amendments rephrased civil rights to human rights, which implies full legal, social and economic equality extended to a minority group (Branch, 2013). In this regard, it refers to African Americans who had for long been marginalized and suffered untold discrimination by the white majority in the US community that was characterized with racist attitudes. By virtue of these crucial constitutional reforms, all individuals in the United States were warranted rights to free expression and action, the right to enter into contracts, to own property, to initiate lawsuits, among others. Blacks began to search new opportunities in education and employment. In addition, they were free to choose where to live, travel and use public utilities. Ever since numerous perpetual efforts by the civil rights pioneers, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Diane Nash, John Lewis and others, were expended to redress the situation of inequality through civil rights movement. It is through such relentless efforts that America gained the free nation status that its citizens enjoy currently. This essay analyzes a number of key events in the US Civil Rights movement in consideration to what civil rights meant in the 1960s and what they mean to the US and the world now.
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Key Events in the US Civil Rights Movement
The rigorous quest for a free, fair, equal and just society for all the United States citizens dates back to the 1960s. This was a time when Martin Luther King Junior and other rights activists organized a series of revolutionary campaigns. These campaigns served as a conduit, through which proponents of equality championed for the rights of the minorities.
The first key event in the US civil rights movement was a massive boycott of public transport. This incident was known as Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted 381 days (Dread, 2013). The boycott was sparked by the bus incident when Rosa Parks refused to vacate the sit that was designated for white commuters. Rosa was subsequently arrested and arraigned before court. The black community felt that this was unfair. Therefore, King Junior and other anti-racial discrimination crusaders organize a massive boycott of public sector transportation system to force the government abolition segregation laws in the sector (Dread, 2013).
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The second event was the desegregation mission in Birmingham. This incident happened in April, 1963 (Branch, 2013). During this event, Martin Luther King Jr. in conjunction with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) opposed local laws that supported segregation. In the process of combating protestors through firebombing and riots, the national police arrested and detained King and a few of his accolades. White ministers accused King Jr. of causing public disorder, but he insisted that this was non-violent struggle against segregation and that he was committed to the principle of nonviolent protests. The decision to arrest key rights activists during this protest generated massive government criticism. On the 11th June, 1963, President John F. Kennedy released a press statement condemning the issue (Branch, 2013). The president alluded that America was a land of the free people and even Negroes were an equal part of the American society.
The third event took place on August 28, 1963 (Meyer, 2014). This was an incident where more than 200,000 blacks and whites gathered before Lincoln Memorial in what they referred to as the Match to Washington in the protest against racial injustices (Meyer, 2014). It was during this event that Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently and passionately unveiled his dream for the United States in his historical speech dubbed ‘I have a dream’. Nevertheless, in an antagonistic act subsequent to his speech, a bomb was set at Birmingham church in September 1963, and it claimed the innocent lives of four black girls (Meyer, 2014).
In the final event, which takes place in 1967, the United States experiences worst riots in its history where 43 lives are lost (Sitkoff & Franklin, 2008). This incident occurred in Detroit and Newark in a tough confrontation between the demonstrators and the federal troops. In addition, shock rocks the world when it dawns that Martin Luther King Jr. has been assassinated on April 4th, 1967 (Sitkoff & Franklin, 2008). He is shot dead by James Earl Ray while in Memphis supporting sanitation workers. This tragic news sparks fresh violence in more than 125 cities of the United States (Sitkoff & Franklin, 2008).
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What Civil Rights Meant in the 1960s and What It May Mean To the US Today
The civil rights in the 1960 represented a myriad of issues. First, the civil rights of the 1960 were meant to promote equality and end segregation in the US (American Experience, n.d). As discussed in the book, the events of the civil rights movements bore significant fruits in the fight against segregation. A few months afterwards, on July 1964 the Civil Rights Act is passed by the Congress (American Experience, n.d). For the first time in the history of the nation, an act that outlawed racial discrimination in all spheres of life was passed.
Secondly, the civil rights of 1960 in the United States propagated for a collective force within the blacks’ community object unfair laws, and to breach the gap between the white majority and the black minority (Branch, 2013). This meant realizing a unitary, harmonious, peaceful and coherent indivisible America as exhibited by veterans such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and other Freedom Riders who resorted to nonviolent means in yearning for the rights of black people (Goodwin & Jasper, 2010).
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Today, 50 years since the Civil Rights act was passed, civil rights in America remain literally elusive. Cases of latent racism attitudes do still exist in some quarters although statistics reveal a steady downward trend in racist cases. In comparison to economic, educational and social disparities, the effort to eradicate racial operation has been more successful. This is evident in the progress that noted among the blacks in terms of access to high school education and college graduation. Income has also been raised reducing poverty rates considerably although the gap between the wealthy and the middle income earners along with high rates of unemployment still remain a big challenge.
In addition, the issues being addressed by the civil rights movement have taken a different twist far beyond racial injustices as they are rather more social, economic and political in nature (Goodwin & Jasper, 2010). Today, activists are agitating about gender equality where women are struggling for equal opportunities in the economic and political sphere; more often, it can be heard about advocacy for gay rights, legitimization of abortion, rights of Americans with disabilities, immigration rights, among others.
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Some issues such as gay rights, abortion rights and legalization of commercial sex have, however, been subject to ridicule, especially outside the United States due to the fact that they contravene conventional moral order. In this respect, civil rights cannot, therefore, be regarded as a singular concept but rather a collection of separate and judicious human entitlements, which are dynamic in demand (Branch, 2013).
In view of the aforementioned events that took place in 1955–1968 in relation to the civil rights movement, it is paramount to note that it only takes a relentless spirit to win in any battle of that magnitude owing to the fact that proponents of anti racial revolution were the minority that was economically disadvantaged. Even though the liberation was a torturous struggle, today’s American prosperity is largely attributed to those happenings. Perhaps without the revolution, which ushered in a free America for all, the black middle class could not be as successful as it is today. After all, the blacks were the minority, and in such circumstances of extreme racial discrimination, rallying substantial support to propel one of their own to such a magnificent position in the land could have unpredictable results. Additionally, it should be noted that the liberation from racial discrimination has changed public trends and attitudes dramatically as most white people have completely accepted the racial preferences that are requisite to the rectification of decades of bigotry. In contrast to the 1960s, most of them were tolerant in regard with discrimination and school segregation.