The Arc of Civil Rights

Libbie - Hardyville, Virginia
Entered on May 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality
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I wish I believed that America was a perfect country where justice and equality flourished. I wish I believed that our government fulfilled their job of securing everyone’s civil rights, and that nothing needed to be improved; but I do not. This is what I believe:

I believe all human beings are born with certain indisputable rights. I believe that the government has not fulfilled their job of securing equal opportunities for all Americans, and I believe that there is no other choice than to lean on something or someone other than the government to fix this problem.

Civil Rights do not include just the freedoms listed in the Declaration of Independence; they encompass equal opportunities, expectations, and respect. Everyone is born with these rights, but not everyone has the opportunity to claim them. For example, I come from a well-off family and have always had the benefit of a private education, but many kids are not able to enjoy these luxuries. Most inner city schools do not have an equal endowment or level of education as most private schools, and therefore do not garner the same respect or expectations. The students that attend these schools do not have the same opportunities to claim their rights.

Our “founding fathers” established the American government in order to secure all American citizens’ rights. However, our government was not able to guarantee rights for one group of people without limiting the rights of others’. This came to a height during the 20th century, and sparked the Civil Rights Movement. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed, it then became the duty of the American moderates to secure these rights. A shift in the moderates’ beliefs would change the direction of the country. Unfortunately, although the protests of the 1960s moved many Americans, many more failed to make their voice heard; and even though discrimination began to decrease, it was a slow process.

America is progressing towards all-encompassing equality, but it has taken centuries to achieve the level we are on today. Our rising generation knows a country with decreasing racism and segregation, and it is noticeable in all aspects of life. However, our legislation is not part of the rising generation and still ignores many of the needs in our country. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the path of discrimination in America falls in an arc, and today we can see that it has significantly decreased since his time. Nevertheless, we do not know how long it will take our country to rid itself of discrimination. Will America be able to overcome its past with the same government who created initiated the concept of segregation? Most importantly, are we, American citizens, going to wait passively on the sidelines while this arc slowly completes its pattern, or will we act now?