This week we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact he left on our country. The holiday, put in place by President Ronald Reagan, reminds us of a man that gave everything, including his life, to remind us that all have basic civil rights in the United States.
As a woman, this is important to me. It was 100 years ago that woman received the right to vote in America. Yet in 1970, women could not own credit cards in their own name. Women could not lease property in their own names. Women could be fired for becoming pregnant. Women could not be admitted into Ivy League schools, military academies, or become astronauts. No state allowed women on a jury. Women could not serve as a judge. Women could not receive direct consultation about their physical and mental health. Women could not adopt a baby as a single person. Girls could not wear pants to school. I remember those days for I was 20 years old in 1970.
Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers brought many people a life that was better with more civil rights, including those with disabilities, females, people of color, and gay and lesbian. He was a black man who was working hard for rights for the black people in America, but through his work many others gained rights they had not been granted.
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one’s entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of society and the state without discrimination or repression.
Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, and disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedom of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.
I am proud of the changes Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers brought to us. I pray we continue growing in our humanity as a people and as individuals.
Our history is important. Who we are, every one of us, is important.
Hope to see you on the bricks!