Have we really guaranteed freedom and equality to all Americans?This is my US history final question, and I have to write an outline for it. My trouble is that i don't know how to go about this...

Have we really guaranteed freedom and equality to all Americans?

This is my US history final question, and I have to write an outline for it. My trouble is that i don't know how to go about this question? I don't think it's guareteed for all americans..

Expert Answers
dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way you might address the question is to first differentiate between political ideology from political reality. For example, when the framers of the Constitution chose  the aspiring ideological words We The People... in 1789, in reality it meant white, male, twenty-one, and property owner. Now you could begin to answer the question by stating that although the struggle for freedom and equality in the U.S. was met with discrimination against African Americans, women, post Civil War immigration, and violence,  the nation has clearly moved towards the aspiration of freedom and equality for all. In order to support this answer you must include specific examples. I offer these suggestions: (Be sure to elaborate on whichever ones you choose to include in your answer)

1. Amendments: 13, 14, 15,19, 24, 26

2. The Civil Rights Movement: Brown v. The Board of Education 1954, The Little Rock Crisis 1957, The Civil Rights Act 1964, The Voting Rights Act 1965, Affirmative Action Legislation, Americans With Disabilities Act 1990

3. President Johnson's Great Society programs, among them VISTA, Mediaid, and Medicare, Food Stamp Program, Elementary and Secondary Education act 1965

The United States is not without fault with regard to 'how' to achieve the aspiration of equality and freedom to it's citizens, but in my opinion the Congressional legislation, past, present, and future, the Supreme Court decisions that have moved our nation towards freedom and equality, civic duty, and the majority of Americans' deep rooted belief in the idea of We The People... however difficult it is always worth any turmoil if the end result is the ever evolving, ever lasting importance of freedom and equality....Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...

Good Luck






brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way to approach this topic (and it is a good one for a final) is to look at what is legally guaranteed and what is actually enforced or implemented.

For example, the Bill of Rights and anti-discrimination laws apply equally to everyone on paper, but the justice system operates differently sometimes for minorities and especially those who are poor.  We all have freedom of travel and speech, but a Latino or an Arab-American, I would venture to say, probably have a higher chance of being pulled over.

Women have long been legally equal to men, but still earn less than  men on average, and hold very few positions of power in government compared to their percentage of the population.

Everyone has the right to consensual marriage--as long as it's to the opposite gender, and I have heard some suggest that we will look back at how gays are treated in America the same way we look back at how African-Americans were treated in the era of Jim Crow segregation.

So my suggestion is to outline several ways in which we are legally equal and free, and then explain how in practice in many of those ways, we really are not.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No, we have not guaranteed freedom and equality to all Americans.  Really, there is no way that we ever will.  The idea of freedom and equality (or liberty and justice) for all is an aspiration, a goal.  It is not something that we can actually achieve (it's sort of like aspiring to be perfect as a person -- it's a good goal, but you have to realize you'll never get there).

Right now, we don't have equality.  There is still discrimination on the basis of race (though it is not what it once was) and the effects of past discrimination still prevent Americans of all races from truly being equal.  We also do not give equal rights to women (no right to be in the combat parts of the Armed Forces, regardless of whether that requires strength that women don't have).  We don't give equal rights to gay people (whether you think they should be allowed to marry or not, they certainly don't have the right to).

So we are not perfect.  We have not made all people have equality (not even equality of opportunity).  But we have gotten much better than we were 100 years ago or even 50 years ago.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am reminded of the words of George W. Bush in his first inaugural address when he said that the story of America is the story of "a flawed and fallible people in search of a better future." The two previous posts discuss whether or not we have ACHIEVED freedom and equality for all people. Your question is, have we GUARANTEED it. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution provides for equal protection of the law, and the Fifth and Fourteenth prohibit taking ones life, liberty and property without due process of law. Have we achieved that goal? No. Have we guaranteed it? I think we have, to the extent that we have been able to. However, this is an evolving process. There was a day when slavery was considered constitutional. There was also a day when women were not allowed to vote. In each instance, this was considered proper. So, as our definitions of freedom and equality evolve, so also does our attempts to achieve it. We are, as human beings, flawed and fallible; yet we are still searching for that better future.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are trying to write an essay in response to the question, I would pick a frame to look at it through.

Have we legally gauranteed freedom and equality?  Of course, or at least we've tried awfully hard to make the laws of the country reflect our ideals of freedom and equality.  Of course do the laws apply equally to everyone?  That's for you to decide and run with.

You might also look at it economically, who has real freedom and equality?  Do you have the same public schools in inner-city Baltimore as you do in the suburbs?  Do you have the same chance in court if you can pay a lawyer millions of dollars as you do if you are depending on the public defender?

There are other frames you could use as well, but they can help to give your response a solid and clear structure.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a country, we have most definitely guaranteed freedom and equality for all. We  have not, however, as a country, ensured freedom and equality for all. If you have any doubt, look at the criminal justice system. Research the statistics for the percentages of the different socio/economic groups incarcerated in our nation's prison. Look at the celebrities who consistently get less severe consequences than their less famous and less wealthy counterparts.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think larrygates makes a great point. In the Constitution we have guaranteed freedom and equality to all. This is indeed a moving target as our population and needs of people change. I think that as a country we have guaranteed and promised the people of the United States that we will strive for equality and freedom.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
We have not guaranteed freedom and equality to all Americans. There is no way we can, because there are too many social inequities. Even if everyone was equal under the law, there would still be discrimination. The only way to guarantee equality is to limit freedom.
gtvnfam | Student

In black and white (or print) it may be guaranteed, but, nothing is ever black and white.