Civil Rights referat

Civil Rights

Civil Rights are given by a state to its inhabitants, for example the right to obtain employment and the right to use public facilities like trams, toilets and schools on equal terms with all other people. The term Civil Rights is closely related to minority groups in the USA, especially to black people.


  • Amendment XIII (1865): Abolition of slavery
  • Amendments XIV / XV (1868 / 1870): definition of citizenship and protection of rights thereof

The first three Civil Rights Acts passed in the second half of the 19th century. They granted citizenship to black people and made them equal in all public places.

In 1883 the Supreme Court declared the 3rd Act (Equality) unconstitutional, thus ending federal protection for Blacks. A further setback brought the court case Plessy v. Ferguson. It had stood as the legal precedent for the 'separate but equal' doctrine. The Court held the opinion that if railroad cars were separated into two parts, but were equal for black and white people than the resulting segregation would be constitutional. Segregation in other places.

It wasn't until 1950 when three Supreme Court decisions gave a new direction to those who were fighting for Civil Rights. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal status in every political and social respect to Blacks.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

It was the NAACP's accomplishment to do away with the Plessy Ruling by initiating a series of court cases. They tried to prove that facilities for white and nonwhite people were not equal. That way they hoped states would integrate, instead of building expensive new schools for just a few Blacks.


Brown v. Board of Education

Background: A coloured Girl, Linda Brown, had to attend an all Black school miles away from her home, although an all white school was only a few blocks away. Because she was denied to attend the closer school, her father went to court.

However, it took almost 2 years until the decision was announced. The case overturned school segregation by declaring it illegal. But it did not tell how the integration was to be carried out! One year later another court ruling said, that integration should take place 'at the earliest possible date'.

This brought up massive Resistance in the South. Polls showed that more than 80% of all Whites in the South opposed to the 'Brown' decision. Parents didn't sent their students to integrated schools. In the following years the Southern States passed more than 450 laws to prevent the enforcement.


Affirmative Action

This is a big government program to help Minority groups. Companies and universities have to have a certain number of African Americans in order to be taken into consideration for contracts and funds. This has, however, lead to a kind of 'reverse discrimination', because universities admitted Blacks who were sometimes less qualified than Whites, just to fulfill the goal.

In 1978 the Supreme Court had to decide on such a case. A white student was not accepted to the University of California, although his qualifications were much better, than those of some admitted Black Students. The Court ordered the University to accept the student.

While discussions about Affirmative Action were going on throughout the last decades, President Clinton tried to do away with the program in 1995.


Decision in the Brown v. Board of Education Case (1954)

Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other tangible factors may be equal, deprive children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe it does. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way very unlikely ever to be undone.

We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

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