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Civil Rights for Kids


What does "civil rights" mean?

Civil rights are basic rights that every citizen has under the laws of the government. In the United States the civil rights of each individual citizen are protected by the Constitution. Civil rights for every person means that regardless of gender, skin color, religion, nationality, age, disability, or religion, a person should not be discriminated against. Civil rights include the right to free speech, privacy, religion, assembly, a fair trial, and freedom of thought.

The term "civil rights" comes from the Latin term "ius civis", which means "rights of a citizen." Anyone who is considered a citizen of a country should be treated equally under the law.

Civil Rights Movements

Throughout history there have been different civil rights movements. Each movement fought for the rights of a given section of the population that was being discriminated against. For example, the women's suffrage movement fought for the right for women to vote. You can learn more about some of these movements by clicking the links below.

Civil Rights Leaders

During each civil rights movement there have been men and women who have led the fight for their own rights as well as those of others. In many cases these leaders have put their lives in danger by standing up for what they believe to be right. Some of these leaders are listed below:

Events and Other Information

Below you can find other information on the history of civil rights including events, timelines, and a glossary of terms.

Why are civil rights important?

Maintaining and protecting civil rights can be one of the most important functions of the government. Civil rights protect every one of us, not just some of us. They insure that each citizen is protected from discrimination under the law. Civil rights laws in the United States make sure that all citizens can enjoy "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" that are promised in the Declaration of Independence.

Try our Civil Rights Crossword Puzzle, African American Crossword Puzzle, or word search.

Recommended books and references:

  • Black Civil Rights Champions by Kimberly Hayes Taylor. 1995.
  • Civil Rights Marches by Linda George. 1999.
  • Great Americans in Civil Rights by Pat Rediger. 1996.
  • African American Civil Rights Movement by World Book. 2011.
  • Thurgood Marshall: Civil Rights Champion by D. J. Herda. 1995.
  • Why Couldn't Susan B. Anthony Vote?: And Other Questions About Women's Suffrage by Mary Kay Carson. 2015.