CIVIL RIGHTS 101What are Civil Rights?
Civil and political rights are a class of rights and freedoms that protect individuals fromunwarranted action by government and private organizations and individuals and ensureone's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discriminationor repression. As a resident of the United States, you have many rights under the laws.Civil Rights are specifically those rights guaranteed by the Constitution, particularly inthe Bill of Rights and in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. (See alsoConstitution, Bill of Rights, 42 USC § 1983.)
Civil Rights Chronology
1619:A year before the Mayflower,the first 20 African slavesare sold to settlers inVirginia as "indentured servants."1624The first African American child, William Tucker is born in the colony.1775:Abolitionist Thomas Paine'sAfrican Slavery in America published in the
Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser.1789:Constitutionadopted; slaves counted as three-fifths of a person for means of representation.1831: Nat Turner leads slave revolt in Virginia.1838:Some 18,000 Cherokees forcibly removed from their land and forced to resettlewest of the Mississippi in a trek that becomes known as the"Trail of Tears." 1848:First Women's Rights Conventionmeeting in Seneca Falls, N.Y., hearsElizabethCady Stantonproposes a constitutional amendment giving women the right tovote.Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgocedes Arizona, Texas, California, New Mexico,Colorado and parts of Utah and Nevada to the United States for $15 million.Article IX guarantees people of Mexican origin "the enjoyment of all the rights of the citizens of the United States according to the principles of the constitution."1856:In early instance of gerrymandering, Democratic party bosses in Los Angeles callspecial convention to consider splitting country in two to increase Anglo politicalinfluence.1857:In theDred Scott decision, Scott, a slave who had lived in a free territory, sues for
his freedom on the grounds his residence on free soil liberates him. The Supreme