Who gets civil rights?

Parker - Urbanna, Virginia
Entered on May 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Civil rights are the rights that provide equal justices and liberties to all, rather than just a select group. I believe that it is a government’s responsibility to ensure civil rights and promote equality, but it is the people’s responsibility to make inequalities known and to “fight” for equal rights in the form of protest.

When oppressed and facing inequality, people will protest and demand civil rights. The oppressed usually protest in one of two ways, violent protest and nonviolent protest. I believe that non-violent protest yields better results and is a more appropriate method of expressing an opinion. Nonviolence protest is more of a process than a reaction. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he states in a nonviolent protest, “there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; and self purification; and direct action.” I think that this from of protest leads to success in achieving civil rights more so than violence. Violence seems to direct malice towards all in power with the ability to oppress and create a “war” over civil rights.

The government has the duty to represent all of its’ people equally. Our founding fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence, “… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In my opinion, the Declaration and the Constitution work together as a foundation for civil rights. Even though the image of Americans has changed since then, I believe the idea is basically the same. Therefore, I think all citizens have the right to guaranteed equal civil rights by the federal government, regardless of gender, race, religion, or age. Once the government ensures civil rights by law to a group, it then has to enforce these laws to protect the rights of the people.

I believe all people have a right to civil rights, and while equality is coming, we as a nation are not fully there yet. I feel that protests by oppressed individuals come from sometimes years of frustration from not having the civil rights to which they are entitled. I personally have not experienced what it must be like to have someone judge me based on the color of my skin, sex, or religion, but I certainly can empathize with the unfairness of such an act. People judged on these characteristics deserve the same equal civil rights as you or me, and the government has the responsibility to secure these rights for all.