Have all people in the U.S. gained their civil rights? If so, was this because of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's? If not, do we need another Civil Rights Movement?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
No. There is a group in this country that is still routinely discriminated against. Their are laws against these people marrying each other. In most states, they are not allowed to adopt or even visit each other in the hospital. There are many ways in which society discriminates against homosexuals.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In my mind, there seems to be two separate issues with this question.  The first is how the Civil Rights Movement influenced other movements for acknowledgement that followed.  I would say that its influence was huge on all other movements took place after it.  The idea of being able to launch a drive for political, social, and economic acknowledgement of voice helped to act as the template for workers' rights movements, women's rights movements, and the struggle for gay/ lesbian and transgendered individuals' demand for equal treatment in government, in society, and in the workplace settings.  The notion of utilizing social protest and dissent as a means to express the need for change is something that hearkens back to the Civil Rights Movement.  It seems that any movement whose primary expression is to demand acceptance and acknowledge a narrative owes a great deal to the Civil Rights Movement because I feel it is almost inconceivable to construct it without some resonance from the movement for Black Americans to be considered equal.

That being said, the first part of the question is probably the more elusive of the two.  I think it depends on who is being asked in terms of where all people have gained civil rights.  On one end, individuals would argue that the Constitutional application of the 14th Amendment's due process clause has helped many individuals receive legal and political recognition of their civil rights to ensure that there is not an institutional denial of opportunity and equality.  Additionally, hate crime statutes make it a federal offense to target an individual based on identity for any crime.  For some, these are sufficient to say that all people in the United States have gained their Civil Rights.  At the same time, there are those who invoke the Civil Rights Movement's belief that there is a struggle outside the courthouse as well as within it.  Social and economic orders must reflect equality of opportunity and entitlement in order for the promises and possibilities of America to be recognized.  In this realm, there will be divergence as to whether or not all people have gained their civil rights.  For example, the issue of gay marriage might be one such topic to reflect such divergence.  Can civil rights be claimed if two people who love one another and are of the same sex cannot be married?  I think that there might be a healthy discussion on whether or not this is an issue of civil rights violations, but given the fact that the discussion would take place only proves that it is much more difficult to assess whether or not all people in the United States have gained their civil rights than to assess the impact of the Civil Rights Movement in American History.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As a society in the United States, we have nearly achieved legal equality, that is, equality on paper.  We will likely never reach full equality on a social level as you cannot legislate what a person believes, so social stereotypes, discrimination and racism are difficult to prevent or get rid of.

We have made a great deal of progress.  An African-American man just won the Presdency in 2008.  I don't think we can underestimate the importance of that in terms of racial progress, whatever a person may think of his policies.  Who would have thought that would be possible even ten years ago?

That being said, we have never had a female President.  Even Pakistan has had a female leader, so I would say it's about time we did.  And it is getting closer.  I would say in the next three to four elections.

I think in 50 years we'll look back at the controversy over gay rights now just like we look back at the controversy over black and women's civil rights equality now. I think they will make more progress in equal rights in the decades to come.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I am going to disagree with the previous two posters and say that all people in the United States have absolutely not gained equal rights.  There is a class of people in the US that have no civil rights at all, namely illegal immigrants.

So perhaps we need to think carefully about how we feel about human beings and whether some of them are "illegal" while others are legal.  This distinction seems rather arbitrary but it is the basis for massively different treatment in employment, law enforcement, almost every area of life.  We don't discriminate (legally) on the basis of skin color but we do based on where someone was born.

Some would argue that we need another civil rights movement for these people.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Everyone in the United States has gained equal rights. This is not saying that everyone is treated equally though. There are many people who are prejudice against others because of the color of their skin or their religion. There is still discrimination against every group, whether it is an ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.

I do think that the Civil Rights Movement helped people gain their civil rights. The Civil Rights Movement brought awareness out into the open.

I really do not think we need another civil rights movement. Cultural awareness or diversity training for some individuals, yes. But not another movement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Many people have gained civil rights.  In particular, all racial minorities have equal rights to those of white people in the United States today.  The Civil Rights Movement has surely helped to cause that by giving minorities the idea of fighting for their rights and by making whites more used to the idea that minorities should have rights.

You could argue that both women and gay people do not have full civil rights today.  Gay people, for example, are not allowed to marry and have problems getting their partnerships recognized for things like visitation rights, inheritance, and other such things that married couples take for granted.

Women, for example, are prevented from serving in whatever the military deems to be a combat position.  They are also banned from the priesthood in various religions and from full membership in many country clubs.

Whether we need a new movement depends largely on your opinion as to whether those things constitute an abuse of rights or whether they are the way things should be.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial