Civil rights are those rights that all citizens have because they are citizens of a country. In the United States, the civil rights movement most often refers to the campaign by descendants of the slaves to obtain rights granted by the Constitution and the letter of the law, but not always available in actual practice.
After the end of the Civil War, Constitutional amendments were enacted granting all rights of citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" and specifically including
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
However, discrimination against blacks in hiring, in education, in housing, in banking, and in allowing individuals to vote or run for elective office were widespread and common. The movement could probably use the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954 as its starting point and passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Bill of 1968 as major legislative accomplishments.