Civil Rights

Civil Rights Movement

  • The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle for social justice for African Americans to gain equal rights under the law in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Significant events include the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1963 March on Washington, and the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches.

Key Legislation

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices and public accommodations.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 removed legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
  • The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin.

Supreme Court Cases

  • The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine. It declared segregation in public schools nationally as unconstitutional.
  • The 1967 Loving v. Virginia case declared laws barring interracial marriages as unconstitutional.

Civil Rights Leaders

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement.
  • Rosa Parks, an African American woman, is best known for her role in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Black Power Movement

  • The Black Power Movement emerged in the 1960s and 70s, advocating for racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from white authority.
  • Key figures include Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael.

Civil Rights in Modern Context

  • Issues of civil rights continue today, with movements such as Black Lives Matter highlighting ongoing systemic racism.
  • Discrimination and inequality persist in many areas, including education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system.
  • In recent years, new battles have emerged over voting rights, with critics accusing some states of attempting to suppress minority voting through laws and regulations.

Women’s Rights Movement

  • The campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote (suffrage), occupied much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1920, granted American women the right to vote.
  • The Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 1960s and 70s, often linked with the term ‘feminism’, fought for equality in law, culture, personal rights, education, and employment.
  • Roe v. Wade is a landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that ruled a state law that bans abortions (except to save the life of the mother) was unconstitutional and that women have the constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.

LGBT Rights Movement

  • The struggle for legal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities also has a substantial history.
  • Major turning points for LGBT rights include the Stonewall riots in 1969, which is often considered the start of the modern gay rights movement.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges declared that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Disability Rights Movement

  • The Disability Rights Movement fights for equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Significant legislation includes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • These laws prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation.