Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Beginning this summer and throughout the fall semester, we are working to upgrade the research experience by making ongoing improvements to our Research Guides.
You may encounter changes in the look and feel of the Research Guides website along with structural changes to our existing guides. If you have any questions or concerns about this process please let us know.

Primary Sources: Civil Rights in America

Welcome to the American Civil Rights Primary Source Guide

Welcome to the Civil Rights in America (U.S.A.)  Primary Source Guide. The purpose of this guide is to provide you the researcher with both print and links to online primary sources covering various subject areas pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America. This guide is a live guide, and always growing as new links or subject areas are added. Good Luck in your research endeavors. 

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 people's physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as sex, race, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, social class, 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 to 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.

Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights. They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights. Wikipedia