The Establishment Of Civil Rights Versus Civil Liberties In United States
The United States has established various laws and acts that have promoted discrimination over the course of history, whether that be against race or sex. Our country has strove to eliminate segregation and the unequal treatment of people since then. Out of all the discriminatory acts/anti-discriminatory acts that have been passed, some stick out more than the others and have taken a bigger toll. I have chosen the top five I believe is the most detrimental to the least, from each discriminatory acts and remedies. In this essay i will be explaining why I specifically chose these acts/laws.
My number one for the discriminatory side is slavery, a de jure form of segregation. We have never treated people so inequitable in history, compared to how we did throughout the time of slavery. Their treatment was cruel and sadistic, and they were bought and sold like possessions. If a slave were to attempt an escape and get caught, they were subject to being beat, whipped, branded, or put in prison. These same punishments applied if they were to disobey their owner as well. Slavery went on in the U.S for over a century, and has left a lasting impact on the country. Even after the prohibition of slavery, the treatment of African Americans remained unfair. The cessation of slavery marked the beginning of our chase for equality, but another hundred years would pass before before we would even try to embody that goal. We have done our best to eliminate discrimination since, but we still struggle with issues today. I ranked this number one because slavery was the biggest form of discrimination that ever happened in America, and it has left the biggest impact as well.
Jim Crow laws is number two on my list. Racial segregation in the Southern United States was made legal by these laws. Although blacks were not slaves, they were treated with disgust and repugnance. In South Carolina, blacks could not work in the same room as whites, walk through the same entrance, or look out of the same window. Many occupations would not even employ blacks. By 1914, Texas had six cities that prohibited blacks from living there. Signs that said “white only” hung over entrances, water fountains, and bathrooms. In some states, blacks and whites had to use separate textbooks, and in other states, those textbooks could not even be stored together. Prisons and hospitals were separated, as were schools and colleges. Jim crow laws did not account for all the discrimination blacks endured. Some groups, like the KKK, used violence to keep African Americans “in their place”. Unwritten laws (de facto segregation) kept them out of certain stores and jobs. I ranked Jim Crow laws number two because these laws touched every part of life. No matter how small the action of an African American was, there were always restrictions and boundaries they could not cross.
I have Japanese Internment camps, also called “Executive order 9066”, as my number three. These camps were approved by Franklin Roosevelt during World War two. After Japanese forces bombed pearl harbor, FDR signed an executive order to relocate all Japanese and Japanese-Americans in the United States. His intention was to prevent espionage on American shores. Under this order, around 115,000 people were removed from their homes and placed in camps- the majority being American citizens. The United States justified this action by alleging that there was a risk of some spying for the Japanese, though none had ever displayed unfaithfulness to the nation. When the order was nullified, many Japanese found that they could not return to their homes. Bitterness against the Japanese and Japanese-Americans lingered across the West Coast after the war. Years later, congress attempted to apologize for the internment camps by rewarding money to the surviving Japanese-Americans. Though the American concentration camps never attained the levels of violence as the Nazi death camps, they remain a scar on America’s record of respecting civil rights and ethnic dissimilarities. Considering how we completely disregarded the their civil liberties, I think Japanese Internment camps should be ranked third. Children made up half the population that was sent to internment camps, and most were American citizens. The supreme court case “Korematsu v. US” justified the executive order, but that does not make it right. I hope we won’t treat people like this again in our country if the opportunity comes up.
Black codes is fourth on my list. These were laws that were intended to restrict the liberties of African Americans and make them work for low wages. Almost every southern state would establish their own codes in the years 1865 and 1856. These states imposed labor contract laws that punished anyone who granted higher wages to an African American under contract. Blacks who violated these contracts were subject to beatings, arrests, and forced labor. These codes were implemented by all-white police and state powers, and passed in a political system were African Americans essentially had no voice. Blacks could not vote, freely travel, serve on juries, or choose what job to work at. Marriage between African Americans were allowed, but interracial marriage was forbidden. They could not own land, and if they were attacked by a white person they could not hit back. Blacks could not gather unless a white person was with them, they could not possess weapons, and they were not taught how to read or write. Most were illiterate. If a black was in court, their testimony was invalid in any lawsuit against a white. Under the black code, African Americans were always considered inferior to a white. I ranked black codes fourth because of how we restrained their freedom. African Americans were not restricted like they were according to the Jim Crow laws, but they still were not given the rights they should have been given.
The final one on my list is the Indian Removal Act. Andrew Jackson was the president, and in 1830 he signed this into law. This law only gave the right to discuss with the Native Americans of their removal from areas East of the Mississippi river. This resettlement was also only supposed to be voluntary, but the all of the tension was sure to make this unavoidable. This act basically brought the end to Indians living under their own laws. They were forced to either leave their native homes or obey US laws. Almost the entire Indian population that lived in the Southeast had moved West. In 1838, the Cherokee nation was withdrawn from their lands. Some people spoke out, opposing the removal. One case was brought to the supreme court. In the case Worcester v Georgia, the court ruled “The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community occupying its own territory in which the laws of Georgia can have no force”. Andrew Jackson resisted the court’s decision and ordered the extraction of Native Americans. This act set the precedent for the later withdrawal of Native Americans from their lands. Jackson put the removal act into effect and rounded up the Cherokee to remove them. They traveled on water and by feet, and an estimated 4000 Cherokee died from disease, exposure, and starvation. This became known as the “Trail of Tears.” I ranked this fifth because of how we forced the Indians off their land. The Indian removal act was only supposed to allow whites to negotiate with the Native Americans about their land. After the Indians refused, it turned into president Jackson forcing the to remove, and even disregarding a supreme court decision. The Trail of Tears led to so many deaths, just because the government wanted their land.
This brings me to my top five remedies. My number one is the reconstruction amendments in the United States Constitution. The thirteenth amendment abolished slavery. Even though Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was to end slavery, it was not completely resolved at the end of the civil war. This amendment officially ended slavery. The fourteenth amendment came next, which granted equal protection for all people, regardless of ethnicity or race. The U.S. supreme court has utilized this amendment in case rulings that have formed our civil rights. It also granted former slaves that were free from the war equal protection. The fifteenth amendment came after the fourteenth, in 1870. It banned the states from depriving people to vote based on race or color. This amendment gave African American men the right to vote. I ranked these amendments as my number one because they gave constitutional protections to blacks. After being treated as slaves, African Americans were free and had equal protection under the constitution.
I ranked this as my number one because it is in the constitution and it encompasses all people whens it talks about treating everybody the same. Second is the civil rights act of 1964. This came right after the civil war. This act brought public segregation to an end and prohibited work discrimination against race, gender, or color. It was first proposed by John F. Kennedy, then signed by his successor. After it was passed, segregation was banned in all places, including schools, parks, hotels, courthouses, and restaurants. African Americans and other minorities could no longer be treated differently merely because of their skin color. The act also outlawed federal funds for any program aimed at discriminatory practices, it permitted the Office of Education to help desegregation in schools, and it banned unfair voting practices. This is the second important important think we did in the U.S. It had a profound effect on many aspects of an African Americans life. They could sit down in a restaurant wherever they liked. They could use the same books as white in schools. Voting practices that used to discriminate against blacks were not allowed anymore. This act even paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the fair housing act. Though the battle against racism would persist, legal segregation could no longer happen.
Thirdly is NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This is a civil rights association and was established in 1909. It was created in response to the continuous violence against blacks around the country. The NAACP played a role in the supreme court case Brown v. Board. The leader of the NAACP Education Fund, Thurgood Marshall, argued the case successfully before the court. This case prevented segregation in schools. The NAACP also helped lead one of the largest civil rights marches in U.S. history, the 1963 March on Washington. This organization also effectively lobbied for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All the things the NAACP members did for African Americans and discrimination made them subject to harassment. Medgar Evers was killed by a white supremacist right outside of his home. This goes to show how much the NAACP advocated for African Americans rights. I ranked the NAACP third because of how much influence they had over black rights. One of the members of the NAACP played a role in Brown v. Board and had segregation in school eliminated. There was still a lot of racism after the Civil Rights act of 1864, but this organization worked to eliminate that and was successful in most of the things they did.
The Seneca Falls Convention falls fourth, after the NAACP. This convention was held in 1848 and was the first to advocate for women’s rights. It fought for the religious, social, and civil rights of women. Some women who were active in the Seneca Falls convention also played a role in the abolitionist movement. Some of these women were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt, and Lucretia Mott. They came up with a “declaration of sentiments” that was the manifesto of the Seneca Falls Convention, and it went into detail about the women’s demands and complaints. It was written mainly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and called on women to advocate for their rights guaranteed by the constitution. Across the U.S, newspapers discussed the convention, both against and in support of its intentions. Several weeks later, the convention gathered at a church to restate their intentions with a big audience. In the following years, reformers constantly referred to the Declaration of Sentiments as they advocated for the rights of women. After many years of struggle, women finally accomplished the same rights as men when disenfranchisement was outlawed, and the nineteenth amendment was added to the constitution. I ranked the Seneca Falls Conference fourth because it was the first woman’s rights convention, and it influence a lot a people. The Declaration of Sentiments became the basis for the suffrage movement and the women’s rights movement, which received nationwide attention. This led to the addition of the 19th amendment.
The last one on my list is the court case Brown v. Board of Education. This is an important court case in history, as it overturned the original decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the court ruled that “separate but equal” facilities were constitutional. In Brown v. Board, black students had not been admitted to certain schools because of their race. They argued that this treatment violated the fourteenth amendment of the constitution. The court agreed and decided that “separate but equal” facilities were unconstitutional. I ranked this fifth because it gave equal educational opportunities to blacks and whites.
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