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Equality and Civil Rights #12

April 25, 2011

The active seeking of recognition of and implementation of “civil rights” is integral to defining American democracy.  It requires the balancing of the need for order and law vs. assuring freedom through limitation of the rule of central power.  Yet ruling central power is integral to the processes by which authority overrides unique propensities of independent collectivities of people (states) to seek the status quo.  For 1oo years the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and later futile revisions lay almost dormant until spear-headed by John F. Kennedy and posthumously enacted the 1964 Act finally emerged.  What had been a law without recourse became a law with “teeth” that allowed for mandating and enforcing accomodations that surpassed the concept of “separate, but equal”.

We often think of the struggle of the African-American when the  term Civil Rights is mentioned.  However, this term has meaning, both procedurally and substantively for many groups.  It is in effect because of a small section of  text buried in the 1866 act that civil rights has meaning for more than African Americans.  Section 1981 of the 1966 act has enabled many groups defined as Native Americans/American Indians, immigrants, and with AIDS or disability.  Moreover, protections offered groups of scrutiny extend to classifications by gender and sex.

Source References:

Janda, Kenneth, Jeffrey Berry, and Jerry Goldman. 2009. The Challenge of Democracy.  Boston, MA: WadsworthCengage Learning.
Shea, Daniel, Joanne Green, and Christopher Smith.  2007.  Living Democracy.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schmidt, Steffan, Mack Shelley, and Barabara Bardes.  2008.  American Government and Politics Today.  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Miroff, Bruce, Raymond Seidelman, and Todd Swanstrom.  2007.  The Democratic Debate.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Gitelson, Alan, Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin Dubnick. 2008. American Government.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Dreslang, Dennis, James Gosling.  2008.  Politics and Policy in American States and Communities.  New York, NY: Pearson Longman.

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