Civil rights are freedoms and rights guaranteed to a member of a community, state, or nation. Freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of fair and equal treatment are the basic civil rights. The constitution of the United States contains a Bill of Rights that describes simple liberties and rights insured to every person in the United States. Although the Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution, civil rights were not always respected to all human beings, especially women and blacks. When the constitution was first written, many Americans understood the meaning of the famous inscripture "all men are created equal" to mean that all white males were created equal, likewise with other civil rights guarantees as well. As a result, blacks were enslaved, and women were persecuted throughout the late 1700's and early 1800's.
During the 1850's abolitionists in the North questioned the morality of southern slavery by writing and preaching about the rights blacks were denied.
Abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Fredrick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth, paved the way for the first civil rights movement that occurred after the Civil War, during Reconstruction. In the 1950's and early 1960's, whites in the South lived in segregated societies, separating themselves from blacks in every humanly way possible. The old Jim Crow laws governed all aspects of their existence, from the schoolroom to the restroom. Southern blacks faced new discrimination every day whether it be economically, socially, or politically. America was destined for another, more far-reaching civil rights movement. The civil rights movement during the late 1800's and early 1900's provided the foundations for the current civil rights laws achieved throughout the 1960's.
Black Americans made significant gains in their struggle for equal rights during Reconstruction, the 12-year period after the Civil War.