The Civil Rights Movement in USA

Table of Contents


Civil rights are normally grouped together with political rights. These are categories of freedom and rights that are recognized by a constitution and are meant to protect citizens, both at individual and group level, against unjustifiable actions undertaken by the government, individuals, and private organizations.

Civil rights also ensure citizens do not experience any form of discrimination and/or oppression while in the process of participating in political and civil life of the state. Civil right entails protection of individual’s security and physical integrity, protecting people from discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation, religion, national origin, race, gender and age (Wilson, 2008).

Civil rights movement is a group or a collection of individuals whose main aim is to pressurize the governments and private organizations to recognize the rights of the people.

Social movements act as a watchdog on how the governments and other social entities handle the issues of human rights and freedom. Civil rights can be traced to during the United States of American Reconstruction period which happened between late 1860s and 1870s (Kellogg, 2003).

Immediately after the Civil War, the American Congress passed a sequence of laws giving the blacks certain civil rights. The laws were to protect the former slaves in the United States of America. However, some powerful politicians prevented the former black slaves from enjoying the rights accorded to them by the constitution.

The former black slaves became conscious of their rights and started pushing for equal treatments alongside the American whites.

The civil rights movements started gaining momentum; the movements gained support from some of the America’s powerful politicians like John F. Kennedy. The ideological cold war also reinforced the movements by demanding equal treatment for both blacks and whites. From the United States of America civil rights movements spread their roots to other parts of the world.

Psychological Perspective on Civil Rights Movement

For individuals to be drawn to participate in any kind of social movement, it is always important for the leaders of such movements to ensure that the persuade members with issues that match their psychological perception. Many a time, the individuals who come together to form a group or movement have some elements of shared cognitive beliefs which are social facts that are relevant to their situations and real.

These include emotional elements like personal needs undergoing frustrations. When individuals come together to form a civil rights movement, a person’s cognition ceases to work at individual level; the movement becomes an entity with its own psychological set up.

The conscious action of the individual members is substituted for the unconscious actions of the movement. This is one of the reasons it is able to achieve what may be impossible by an individual.

Social movements have been formed to protect or fight for historical expectations of the people. It is this basis that civil rights movement has continued to exist; so that it can fight for what individuals have perceived to be right and should be provided with.

Either the denial or delayed delivery of such dreams makes these individuals to perceive in their inner conscience that they will never achieve them by waiting. They therefore get together and initiate series of actions which may actually result into destruction and bloodshed.

Social movement provides an opportunity for individuals to protect themselves by engaging into collusive interactions with other people. In this case, the people realizes that their individual efforts to realize certain rights cannot work in isolation; they therefore come together to form a one powerful force that champions for their interests at group level.

Sociological Perspective on Civil Rights Movement

Civil rights movement is a social group with clear goals and objectives. At the start, civil rights movement had a limited scope; and was to protect the rights and freedom of the black former slaves in America. With time the scope of civil rights movement has enlarged to encompass many issues related to rights of individuals.

It can be argued that as the number of human rights and freedom increases scope of the civil rights movement also broaden. The fight for rights and freedoms through civil rights movements is one of the indications of social decay. The existence of the movement is sustained by constant and / or potential violation of certain constitutionally recognized rights and freedom.

Civil rights are granted by the government; unfortunately it is the government that violates them (Perry, 2007). The members of the society would wish to have as much freedom as possible. Once the rights and freedoms are granted the civil rights movement will defend them by all means available. Any action to suppress the activities of the movement is likely to result into social unrest.

The civil rights movement is also in place to facilitate certain social changes. In many cases, the members of the society get dissatisfied with current social systems. More specifically, the movement always fights for recognition of certain social facts as parts of civil rights and freedom. It seeks to pressure for legalization of certain actions by the members of the society.

For instance, the pro-abortionists in the United States of America, for many years, fought for the legalization of abortion in the state. In the U.S.A abortion used to be illegal; but through the pressure coming from the civil rights activists, it is now legal in the United States of America. This has also happened in other parts of the world. The movement has also made some achievements in countries where gay rights are constitutionally recognized.

These represent social changes that take place in the society. It is therefore appropriate to view civil rights movement as an agent of change in the social systems. It seeks to force the society to accept and recognize what were initially considered anti-social.

The anti-social practices have been facts such as abortion, gay relationships, and lesbianism amongst others. So many people have demanded to be given rights and freedoms to engage in certain practices which may, actually, not be recognized by the state. In most cases, the authorities are forced to entrench such rights and freedoms in the constitution due to pressure the rights groups.

The communities and various segments of the society often have certain values, intentions and desires which may greatly vary from those of individual members. Those who are not ready to conform to these communal or societal demands are always seen as social deviants.

They come together as a group with shared emotions, ideologies and beliefs. It is important to note that the civil rights movement is divided into several groups. The groups may separate on the premise of opposing ideologies. For instance, as much as the civil right movement is compost of pro-abortionists, it also constitutes subgroup members who are the anti-abortionists.

The movement is divided into further smaller movements with different ideologies, goals and objectives. The behavior of the movement is facilitated by social crises, emotional experience shared amongst members of the movement, feelings of shared aims, impetus to take action and perceptual swing in values and/or vision.

Always, there are many individuals in the society who may be against certain social systems. Some of these individuals are fearful of social disapproval so they decide to either endure the systems or oppose them secretly. The civil rights movement is seen as the representative of such individuals.

They fight the oppressive or unwanted regimes on behalf of those who do not have voices in the society. For example, women are said to have no voice in the political processes in the society.

Through women’s rights activists, the voiceless women are fighting for recognition in the political processes. Another example is where the minority is neglected by the majority. Through civil right activists and other movements the minorities fight for recognition in the social systems.

Implication in the 21st Century

It is important to note that the civil rights movement is now more effective and efficient in its activities than ever. Civil rights movement is majorly concerned with the activities of the government in relation to fundamental human rights. The implication of the activities of the civil rights movements depends so much on the way the government promotes or violates these fundamental rights.

With the development of information technology, the work of the movement is likely to be very effective in the 21st century as compared to the past centuries. The composition of the civil rights movement in the 21st century has broadened to include various media: the print, radio, and television.

These media keep an eye on the actions of the government and private organizations in relation to human rights and freedoms. The implication of this is that every little attempt at the violation of any form of right and freedom by the government will be realized by the civil rights groups.

It is also easy to influence individuals to rise up against any form of the unwarranted actions. It the 21st century, it is going to be easy to mobilize people through the available media to participate in demonstrations and protests against all forms of unwanted system practices in the society.

Noteworthy is the fact that the civil rights movement has managed to improve the lives of people since its establishment. Many individuals have been able to enjoy certain rights and freedoms that would not have come were it not for the activities of the members of the civil rights movements.

The achievements were realized in a period when flow of information was very slow and coordination amongst the activists was not effective. The members of the civil rights movements in the 21st century are most likely to have efficient checks and balances on the activities of the government and private organizations that may violate human rights and freedom.

With several demands and pressure on various governments to legalize or legally recognize certain social engagements as rights and freedom, the activities of the civil rights movement are set to increase. Currently, there are demands to legalize abortion, gay marriages, removal of death sentence as a corporal punishment amongst other issues.

All these are likely to increase pressure on any existing authority. It is also important to realize that the current information technology has enabled many people to learn more and more of their civil rights. This scenario is different from the past when the majority of the individuals would rely on few people to reveal their constitutional rights.

This means that the more people become aware of their rights the more they are able to realize the flaws of government activities that have direct effect on their rights.

It a nut shell, with current development of information system and the fact that there are a number of individuals who are aware of their rights the activities of the civil rights activists are set to increase. This is coupled by the fact that the interests of the government are likely to violate some of these rights and freedom.


Civil rights movement is a body that constitutes individuals who are deeply concerned with ensuring that the government respects certain fundamental human rights and freedom. The movement has been used by many people to realize certain rights and freedoms such as legalization of abortion and gay marriage in the United States of America and other parts of the world.

From sociological point of view, civil rights movement can be seen as an agent of social change. Its one of the factors that have driven change in the society so that what were initially considered as anti-social practices are now considered to be part of practices in some parts of the society. These include, but not limited to, abortion and gay marriages.

The implication of the activities of the civil rights movement is seen in the ability of the current growth in information technology. This has enabled the members of the movement to use various media watch on any form of human rights violations by the government and also take quick actions against such violations.

Reference List

Kellogg, W. (2003). American History the Easy Way. E-Z American History. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.

Perry, M. (2007). Toward a theory of human rights: religion, law, courts. London: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, J. (2008). American Government. Boston: Cengage Learning.

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