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Human protections recognized under the constitution are referred to as civil liberties. The rights act is a legislative shield that protects people from violations by their government. Since gaining freedom, the United States seems to have been born into another. Since the country's freedom, a number of human rights challenges have arisen. While America has been regarded as one of the most stable and democratic countries, it has also avoided trading any of its citizens' rights for stability. Since its inception, the current concern has been how the United States protects its peoples' civil liberties.
Douglass Fredrick, a former American slave, is one of the few elites who has expressed outrage for human rights. Douglass in his speech ‘The meaning of July Fourth for the Negro’ which is perhaps one of the well-known speeches made in the history of America. Having been invited to address the America’s black population and what July fourth meant for them, Douglass developed his speech into a condemnation of the attitudes the American society had towards slavery. Douglass’s speech opens with the line, “Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens…” Considering the fact that he was a slave, it is no doubt that Douglass is not addressing the president of the United States; rather he is addressing the president of the anti-slavery society (Douglass 1). Also, it is noteworthy that he considers himself a citizen, equal to the available spectators in attendance. Douglass also modestly apologizes for being nervous before the crowd and recognizes his journey since he escaped from slavery. He also touches on the America’s history on revolutionaries struggle for freedom under the British rule and reveals that he is in support of these revolutionaries (Douglass 3).
Throughout his speech, Douglass advocates for equal justice and rights as well as citizenship. He asks the people to celebrate their freedom but this is ironical, indeed he is telling a black man to celebrate the white man’s freedom from tyranny and oppression. This speech is a mockery of the inhuman sacrileges and a condemnation of America for being untrue to the founding principles, its present as well it’s past. The speech persuades America to fulfill to the citizens what the founders had advocated for, an indication that civil rights are still infringed.
Martin Luther King also addresses liberty issues through his influential speech in which he challenges the citizens to embrace humanity and show love regardless of the race. In his “A Time to Break the Silence” King addresses why the war in Vietnam should stop (Luther 4). King asserts that the war has hindered the movement of civil rights of the Black people and has robbed them of the freedom of expression, have opportunities and better life same as that of the white man (Luther 8). King condemns the inequality between the blacks and the whites and advocate for equal rights of the same. King notes that the nation is not doing what it takes to ensure that the war ends. This speech was not only meant to have action at the times of its delivery but its impact is still felt and it resonates even today. The fight for civil rights is and equality is still debatable topic in the United States.
Susan Brownell Anthony, a civil right activist played a pivotal role in ensuring that women’s suffrage was introduced in the United States. She is probably the most important advocate leading the way to women’s right to vote following her 1873 speech that condemned the federal agencies for their gender-based restrictions on voting. Her speech opens with the line, “Fellow people in the world…” she intends to bring to the attention of the United States and the whole world her speech does not address only the male citizens and that there should be no gender-alienated rights (Anthony 276). Anthony criticized the government for halving the nation and as consequence; it could prove to hale the posterity of the nation. Susan believed that right to enjoy privileges provided by the constitutions did not require sex qualifications and denying women their democratic rights was unjustifiable. The United States was proving an odious aristocratic and hateful oligarchy of sex (Anthony 302). Accordingly, the speech intended to postulate that irrespective of the sex, all citizens are bound and governed by the same laws and that everyone has equal right. It was a civil liberty issue that needed to be resolved.
Concisely, civil rights are fundamental for harmonious coexistence, the pursuit of happiness and liberty. Although the United States has taken commendable steps in ensuring issues surrounding that civil liberties are resolved, there is still a lot that needs to be addressed. The government must seek to balance the civil liberties and the law especially in the era of surveillance when the move of every citizen can be tracked by the federal agencies. Also, issues of race and gender-based civil rights must be reviewed.
Anthony, Susan B. “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote? [1872-73].” Man cannot speak for her 1989: 279–316. Print.
Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave Is Th Fourth of July?” Archives of American Public Address (1852): 1–13. Web.
Luther, Ml King. “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” speech, Riverside Church, New York, NY, April 700.May (1967): 1–13. Web.
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