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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, 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 
- 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.
- Justice 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).
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.
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.
- "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.