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BellaOnline's Civil Rights Editor


What the US civil rights movement can teach you

Guest Author - Lorraine E. Chavis

What does it take for a civil rights movement to work? Can you legislate integrity? No, but one can establish a foundation of principles for how one will be treated as a citizen no matter what country they are in. People in general have had an uphill battle of establishing this foundation, but it must be established.

Some people may think that the US civil rights movement was merely about blacks US citizens and that is not true. Black US citizens were the more visible of the crusaders, but the rights they fought for benefited many US citizens. The backdrop of the civil rights struggles was the fight for the rights of the developmentally disabled, women and the poor. People with disabilities were institutionalized until the 1970s and sterilized until the 1940s. Their struggles for civil rights were enhanced by many factors, but one of them was the struggle for black US citizens to have equality during the same timeframe. Women benefited from the struggle for civil rights through legislative laws. For instance in 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president of the United States and the men in the race and the news networks were trying to block her from participating in debates. They said she should be taken seriously because she was a woman and not a serious candidate. She took them to court for unequal treatment and the court ruled in her favor. Many would be politicians of various races, religions and genders have benifited form that piece of legislation. These various US civil rights struggles paralleled one another and helped one another. They weren't just about color.

Unfortunately the US story of how civil rights werenít just a black US citizen issue has never been told. But, maybe the whole US story of the whole US civil rights movement can be a resource for a more global civil rights struggle. There must be organization of people, a plan, and some form outside help. If the people arenít organized it will be difficult to gain momentum and a determine needs. Without the plan there is no roadmap for success without it you just keep fighting and you donít know when you win. Also, without a roadmap one tends to travel the road most taken. Donít depend on outside help without a plan of your own it can destabilize you. These three rules are not exhaustive and they werenít always followed by the US version of the movement, but they are the foundational keys to success.

The next step is really is the choice of all human beings around the world. The civil rights movement was always about US citizens having the right to determine their own life. But now, the ideals of civil rights are about Egyptians having the right to determine their own leadership and to a large extent their own destiny. Itís about Yemen deciding to follow the example of their Egyptian neighbors in wanting more from their government.

Fighting for civil rights isnít just about the fight itís about the next steps. Once one begins a fight it is almost too late to determine the success markers, but it must be done. If success markers arenít determined then the fight never stops. There must be strong leadership that loves and respects their people. The people need to believe in themselves and not count on outside validation. Unfortunately, there are many that are still looking for validation from outside sources and if they donít get that validation they feel less than and insecure. This is a character issue, but in the wrong context it can turn into a movement that perpetuates the same hate that generations fought to eliminate.
One way those struggling for civil rights can avoid this character issue is by loving and respecting themselves and those around them. Encouragement, self-respect and taking one another seriously are the foundation for strong relationships and the building blocks of a respectful society.

Create a foundation of success and assemble a prosperous character through the golden rules. No civil rights movement is not one act or one march it is a multitude of actions, marches, protests and eras that culminate to a new level of humanity for all involved. It is important for those who struggle for civil rights to understand that the struggle is a process. It progresses in life and through out the generations. In the beginning there is a great obligation not to disrespect, marginalize or in anyway minimize one another because this will only disrespect, marginalize and minimize the struggle.

People find it difficult to love those that donít love themselves, love yourselves. People donít respect those that donít respect themselves, respect yourselves. Itís time to let go of the need for outside validation. Hold onto integrity. Stop being jealous of one another; Itís time to let go of the anger, contention and unforgiveness. Focus on your vision, your purpose and your goals. It is easier said than done, but it can be done.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Lorraine E. Chavis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lorraine E. Chavis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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