What are civil rights?
Civil rights are a set of rights afforded to the citizens of a society that protect them from discrimination and repression. Civil rights are an important feature of modern society and apply to many areas of life. It is important for citizens to be aware of their civil rights and fight to protect them, for themselves and for others.
Types of Civil Rights
All civil rights share a goal to protect people from discrimination and unfair treatment and to enshrine equal treatment for all under the law. These apply to situations such as employment, educational opportunities, and housing. There are a number of legally protected classes, which protect from discrimination on the basis of:
Also included are the rights to privacy and freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly.
Examples of civil rights violations are incidents such as hate crimes — beatings or threats of violence against someone on the basis of their race, religion, or LGBTQ status. Police brutality and racial profiling also may constitute civil rights violations, as might firing or not hiring someone on the basis of a disability.
Historical Civil Rights Movements
Civil Rights Movement
The most famous and iconic civil rights movement in the U.S. was the civil rights movement of the 1950s-1960s, in which black Americans and their allies fought to bring an end to systemic and institutionalized racism, segregation, and disenfranchisement. The movement brought an end to Jim Crow laws and led to the passage of multiple federal civil rights laws, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, and the founding of several federal agencies dedicated to protecting civil rights. The civil rights movement was the predecessor to the Black Lives Matter movement of today, which fights against police brutality and racial discrimination.
Women fought for the right to vote in the United States from the mid-1800s up until finally achieving the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. This was a long process that moved more quickly in some states than others. The legacy of this movement lives on decades later in the effort to ensure equal pay and employment opportunities for women.
Native American Rights
Native Americans have suffered a long history of being discriminated against and stripped of rights in the U.S. Native Americans were not even granted U.S. citizenship until 1924. The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 guaranteed indigenous people many civil rights, similar to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
What to Do if You Believe Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated
Violations of your civil rights can be humiliating, infuriating, and painful. Luckily, the law provides ways to protect your rights and punish those who violate them. If you’ve been the victim of a hate crime, police brutality, or any other type of discrimination that you believe may constitute a civil rights violation, talk to an attorney to find out what your options are. A qualified civil rights lawyer will be able to assess your case and help you pursue legal remedies. The Law Office of Ali Najmi recommends seeking representation from a professional civil rights attorney if you feel that your rights have been violated.
Story by Michael Davis. Davis is the content director of Miami’s On the Map Marketing Inc.