Those who have been discriminated against know the importance of civil rights equality and how unbalanced these rights are dispersed. In a society dominated by white males, civil rights covers issues that deal with prejudices against both gender and race. Women and blacks have been the predominant proponents for civil rights, having always been the demographic groups that have suffered from civil inequalities.
Women have typically felt oppressed in a male-dominated society and have been proponents of civil rights for themselves as well as for other minority groups. During the years before Abolition, many of the main supporters to end slavery were white women who realized, while attempting to be a voice for slaves, that they themselves were a minority that was oppressed as well. This has led to the the Women's Suffrage movement as well as Abolition for African Americans, the ending of child labor, and the birth of modern civil rights movements. From voting rights or civilian justices, any minority group such as women, children or racial groups that feel under represented can fight for their civil rights and their fair treatment under the law.
Typically it has been African Americans who are the voice of civil rights movements, having always had a history of inequality under the Constitution. From their days of slavery to Jim Crow laws and even under the present laws, African Americans are victims of racial hate crimes, racial profiling and social discrimination in civilian matters. However they represent the largest minority and many other minority groups that feel discriminated against can join the civil rights movement in an attempt to breed equality under the law.
One does not have to be a member of a discriminated group or a minority to join the civil right movements. The fight for civil rights can be fought by anyone who feel that people are still being discriminated and that the enjoyment of freedoms and exercise of laws are not shared equally by people of all groups and demographics. Rights that are available only to a select few hurt a society as a whole and it is important to the process of democracy that all citizens have equality. Anyone who supports a true democracy and the idea that civil rights should be given to all persons can be a part of the civil rights movements.
The civil rights movement that started in the 1960s in an attempt to give African Americans equality under the law was successful in its cause. Because of authorities such as Reverend Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, African Americans enjoy many of the same liberties extended to all American citizens. Civil rights such as the right to vote, own land, attend the same public schools and universities and equal treatment in court are extended to African Americans because of years of fighting by the civil rights movement and organized groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). These groups have given African Americans more equality and enabled them to be a part of the democratic process. Without civil rights movements and people who are not afraid to speak up for what they feel is morally right, African Americans might continue to be racially discriminated, women might still not be allowed to vote, and children might still be exploited in factories.
Indeed, in countries which do not have strong proponents for civil equality, minority groups still suffer from exploitation and civil inequalities. Women in the Middle East continue to be treated unfairly and are stoned for adultery which is acceptable among men, children in South East Asia continue to be exploited in factories and are victims of human trafficking, having no one to speak up for them. If civil rights movements were strong in these areas, these groups might have a better chance of gaining equality under the law and enjoying the same privileges, protections and rights extended to those who are in power.
"ACLA Homepage." American Civil Liberties Union. 1 May 2008. .
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Sutherland, Daniel E. A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom. The Journal of Southern History. Athens: Nov 2007. Vol. 73, Iss. 4; p. 906.