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Billy The Reality of Civil Rights in America Civil rights are the rights that a nations inhabitants enjoy by law They have a legal and philosophical basis and in the United States are usually thought of in terms of the specific rights guaranteed in the Constitution freedom of religion of speech of the press and to due process of law and equal protection under the law In todays society the question of civil rights can bring many issues to mind the rights of gays to marry profiling of certain ethnic groups womens equality in the workplace etc However throughout the history of the United States much of the focus of civil rights has been on the rights of African Americans As far back as 1865 amendments and acts have been passed that intended to bring equality to blacks Many novels however have been written that demonstrate how blacks in America were actually treated regardless of these laws One of these novels Billy by Albert French gives a powerful depiction of the racism and the lack of civil rights that existed in America in 1937 The Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 abolished slavery but did not recognize blacks as equals The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 stated that All persons born or naturalized in the US8230are citizens8230nor shall any State deprive any person of life liberty or property without due process of law nor deny to any person8230the equal protection of the laws After the Civil War there were several acts that were passed that tried to bring equality to blacks and enforce the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 1867 1870 1871 and 1875 gave blacks equal legal rights allowed former slaves to participate fully in the political arena vote in elections gave protection against intimidation by groups like the KKK and gave them full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations According to these amendments and acts every person black or
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