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Civil rights are a class of rights that ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.
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- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Thomas Jefferson was right in declaring that all human beings are created (or, or if you will, are by nature) equal. They are also, in terms of their individual differences, unequal in the varying degrees to which they possess the species-specific potentialities common to all. These individual inequalities, when they are recognized as subordinate to the basic equality of all human beings in their common humanity or specific nature, do not generate difficulties that must be overcome or eradicated in order to increase social justice.
- Mortimer J Adler, author and philosopher, Ten Philosophical Mistakes, p. 165 (1985).
- Civil Rights opened the windows. When you open the windows, it does not mean that everybody will get through. We must create our own opportunities.
- Mary Frances Berry, "Civil Rights Commission chair highlights celebration of Martin Luther King's life", Indiana University, (January 15, 2002).
- At the foundation of our civil liberties lies the principle that denies to government officials an exceptional position before the law and which subjects them to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen.
- Louis D. Brandeis, Burdeau v. McDowell, 1921.
G - L
- Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a cosmopolitan right is not fantastical, high-flown or exaggerated notion. It is a complement to the unwritten code of the civil and international law, necessary for the public rights of mankind in general and thus for the realization of perpetual peace.
- Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795).
- "What threatens democracy is hunger, it is misery, it is the disease of those who have no resources to face it. These are the evils that can threaten democracy, but never the people in the public square in the use of their legitimate and democratic rights".
M - R
- It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few. … They...consequently are instruments of injustice. The fact therefore must be that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
- [I]t seems to me that this past century has accomplished two Civil Rights movements. First, the right for blacks and Hispanics and people from all different nationalities to take their place in the middle of society and that has been achieved at great cost. It is a tremendous struggle in America, but now we think nothing of walking into an office and finding that a black person is the president of the company instead of a janitor cleaning the hallways. And then we learned that the talent that blacks and Hispanics have, always had, their intelligence, dedication and willingness to work is no less than anybody else. They have been able to persevere and finally I think we have really overcome tremendous amounts of prejudice, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
The second great Civil Rights movement was equality for women. It started at the end of the last century. Women finally got to vote. We've gotten all the way to the point now where women aren't expected to stay home and just be mothers and it's okay to be a single parent and it's okay to go out and pursue your ambition and your dreams. And that's been a very important breakthrough because there are so many areas where women are more talented and have more to offer than men do.
And now we are beginning to see everybody working side by side in society and in the workplace. But, there remains one HUGE minority that is still terribly discriminated against. And that population is the disabled population. And that comprises 1/5 of the world's population. In the United States, for example, we have 54 million disabled people and the thing that's very difficult is when blacks and Hispanics and women were fighting for equal rights there was a level of discomfort. But nothing approaching what happens when "normal" people look at the disabled and are uncomfortable. That is a prejudice that they MUST overcome because we're not in a position to always look our very best or to feel our very best, or to be pleasing to the eye because we have suffered terrible debilitating diseases and injuries. But what's happening now is the kind of discrimination that is so bad and I want to tell you that it exceeds any prejudice that ever occurred before in the previous civil rights movements.
S - Z
- What white people learned from the Civil Rights era was how not to appear to be racists, even to themselves. They came away from the 1960s knowing that racism was a matter of using the wrong words or expressing the wrong attitudes publicly. They trained their internal monologues to mirror an egalitarian or deracinated public discourse: no slurs, just a continual stream of euphemisms. That was the essence of white anti-racism: don't say the wrong thing.
- Any kind of civil rights movement in the Soviet Union would have been ruthlessly smashed. Obviously. There would have been nothing left of it in no time at all. Most people would never even hear about it.
- "Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal."
- Harry Truman, speech to Congress 6 September 1945.