Restriction of Civil and Political Rights for Some Groups
There are numerous reasons why civil and political rights of some groups in the United States were restricted. This large number was comprised of numerous minority groups the largest of which was the African American community and to some extent up to a period, the female population. As to why the rights were restricted, the reasons vary from one restricted group to the other.
When it comes to the largest group with political and civil rights restrictions, the African American community, the first reason why they had so many restrictions, and arguably the most restrictions were due to their history. The slavery period that this group underwent had such a toll on this group and how it was viewed.
They were seen as an inferior people who did not have the right to make important political decisions, let alone have the right to deserve them. Additionally, due to the hardships that this group underwent, a good number of these people did not have access to basic amenities such as education. They were therefore not seen as clever enough to make viable political decisions such as voting. Another purported reason for political repression of this group was the fact that lack of these restrictions such as the right to vote would lead to lowered value of property.
Immediately after the reconstruction period, another group that faced political repression was the poor and this time, it was despite of the race. Among the freedoms that these individuals were not privy to was the right to vote. The reason for this was because supposedly, it did not make sense for these groups to make decisions that could affect property that they did not have in the first place. This reason also applied to the African Americans and the women, who were also denied the same rights.
While the African Americans were denied their rights since they were considered unequal to their white counterparts, the women of all races for a long time had their political and civil rights limited simply because of the fact that they were considered to be designated for homely duties. As such, women had problems accessing various amenities such as credit cards and voting rights. In addition to this, women also experienced various difficulties without the protection of the law. For example, in the very early stages of the 19th century, women could get married even before attaining legal age.
Another difficulty, unmarried women had difficulty accessing financial services based solely on their marital status. Finally, another injustice that this group faced was the lack of protection by law in the workplace. For example, just being pregnant has been enough reason to be terminated from the workplace and taking oral contraception was illegal.
There are various ways which were implemented in order to restrict civil and political rights of the various groups mentioned above. When it comes to the African American community, which arguably faced the most restrictions, they were denied some of their basic rights such as voting and in the early period, rights to owning property. Another means of denying this group of its political and civil rights was by segregation. Segregation is the separation of facilities such as hospitals, services such as public transportation and amenities such as housing.
Through segregation, people of color were denied political and civil rights available to white Americans. IN order to suppress these rights for women, they were denied opportunities and the avenues to challenge these hardships were unavailable to them or implemented in the law. For example, a woman could not complain of being fired for being expectant since the employer had the right to do so constitutionally.
While there were several successful attempts to right the injustices facing these groups throughout history, there are some key reforms that changed the political and civil state of suppression that these groups faced. Two of the largest reforms are The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Fair Housing Act of 1968.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
This is considered by many to be the most landmark legislation in the History of the United States. This legislation marked the end of discrimination based on race, nationality, color or gender in the United States. It also meant the end of segregation that the majority of minority groups faced in the United States. Before this ruling, voting was illegal and punishable by law for African American folk. There was no sharing of amenities between blacks and whites such as schools, public transportation and housing. This legislation marked the end of all this by making discrimination based on the above mentioned specifications illegal.
The African American group benefited from this legislation the most. The majority of the injustices were leveled against this group and that is the reason why most of the action to protest these injustices were protested by people of color such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. In addition to this, another mandate of this legislation was to ensure that minorities and especially people of color were having their rights to vote protected by law.
This legislation also marked a new page for the rights of women. The Equal Pay Act that was signed just a year before was also included in the 1964 legislation (Gold, 2011). In conclusion, this legislation helped African Americans, women and other affected groups by broadening their inclusion and equality. When it comes to inclusion, African Americans were now protected by law to vote without any repercussions, they could also access more and better amenities that they couldn’t before due to the constraints of segregation. When it comes to equality, women benefited greatly from this legislation. Due to the inclusion of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into the Civil Rights Act of 1964 meant that under this legislation (Gold, 2011), women were protected from receiving lower pay simply because of their gender.
Fair Housing Act of 1968
This is another landmark legislation that was meant to ensure housing rights for all people regardless of race, color, gender or nationality. This was especially the case for African Americans whose opportunities for preferable housing were marred by segregation. It is important to note that discrimination in housing was prohibited much earlier in 1866 by there were no federal enforcement provisions.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 integrated the enforcement provisions, thereby finally abolishing segregation of housing legally. The 1968 legislation also included protection against discrimination when it came to renting, sale and financing of housing (Cohen, 1989). Unfortunately, this housing protection only benefited African Americans and racial minority groups earlier disadvantaged, women’s Fair Housing Act only came into effect much later in 1978.
Some of the banned discriminations included in this legislation included; refusal to transact with a person concerning housing based on their color, religion, race and national origin. Another ban was an advertising of housing facilities with indications of race, color or nationality bias. Finally, threatening, coercing or intimidating a person of a certain color, gender or nationality while in the confines of his/her house.
This legislation definitely ensured inclusion and equity of some formerly repressed groups. African Americans and American Indians are some of the groups that benefited the most out of this legislation. When it comes to people of the African American community, they suffered squalid housing conditions due to segregation. This meant that while the comparatively better situated white Americans lived in better condition lived in better houses, African Americans, regardless of whether they could afford it lived in worse housing conditions.
This legislation ensured that as long as one could afford housing in any part of the United States, they could not be discriminated on account of their race, color, religion or nationality. This ensured inclusivity for this minority group that was formerly shunned aside. Native Americans were other minority groups that suffered discrimination when it came to living locations and conditions. Due to disputes between this group and the American government that existed even before the civil war, Native Americans were victims of social steering that was curbed once this legislation was put into effect.
In conclusion, the legislations passed ensured previously discriminated against groups enjoyed the inclusivity and equality that they formerly missed. While some of the provisions were already in the constitution, they were not enforced until the legislations included federal enforcement provisions necessary to do so.
Restriction of Civil and Political Rights for Some Groups