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Civil Rights

Glossary and Terms

Affirmative Action - A group of policies that help to benefit groups that have been discriminated against based on race or gender.

Americans with Disabilities Act - This law was passed in 1990 giving the disabled the same protections against discrimination as the Civil Rights Act gave based on race, gender, and national origin. It is often abbreviated "ADA."

Apartheid - A system of racial segregation that was used in South Africa up until 1990 when it was outlawed.

Birmingham Campaign - A number of non-violent protests against segregation held in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed during the protests.

Brown v. Board of Education - A Supreme Court ruling in 1954 that said segregation in schools was unconstitutional.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 - A law that outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and national background.

Desegregation - A process to end segregation in public areas based on race.

Disability - A physical or mental impairment that limits the ability of a person to perform a major life activity such as reading, working, speaking, etc.

Emancipation Proclamation - This was an executive order given by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 freeing the enslaved in the Confederate states.

Fifteenth Amendment - This amendment guarantees the right to vote regardless of race.

Fourteenth Amendment - This amendment defined what it means to be a U.S. citizen and gave all citizens equal protection under the law.

Indian Civil Rights Act - This law passed in 1968 guaranteed important civil rights for Native Americans. It is sometimes called the Indian Bill of Rights.

Indian Removal Act - This law passed in 1830 forced the Native American tribes living in the southeast to move to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Jim Crow Laws - These were laws passed to enforce segregation based on race. They allowed for separate schools, public transportation, restaurants, and more based on race.

Little Rock Nine - The Little Rock Nine were nine African-American students who enrolled in a previously all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas. The U.S. Army had to be sent in by the president to protect them.

Lynching - Lynching is when an angry mob commits murder. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, black people were sometimes lynched by mobs without being given a fair trial.

March on Washington - A peaceful march of 250,000 people on Washington D.C. to call for the passage of a civil rights act. This is when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Montgomery Bus Boycott - A boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama buses held to protest against racial segregation. It began when Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus to a white passenger.

National Women's Suffrage Association - A group formed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1869 which worked to get an amendment passed that would allow women to vote.

Nineteenth Amendment - An amendment passed in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Poll Tax - A fee that people were required to pay in order to vote. Today this is illegal in the United States.

Segregation - Segregation is the separation of people in their daily lives based on race.

Sit-in - A form of non-violent protest where a number of people occupy an area and refuse to move.

Suffrage - Suffrage is the right to vote in an election.

Thirteenth Amendment - This amendment ended slavery in the United States making it illegal. It was passed in 1865.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 - This law made it illegal to prevent people from voting based on race or color.

To learn more about Civil Rights:

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