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Human Rights History Essay Topics

The Civil Rights Movement Of The 1960'S

In the history of the United States there have been many social changes that have occurred. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was one of the most significant and important for the equality of all people. Since the abolition of slavery in 1863, there had been a continuous conflict between the races of people who live in the United States. Rights were violated on a consistent basis, purely because of the color of that person’s skin. Unfortunately many of the changes that the movement fought for brought on a violent opposition from many white southerners and that led to the violent deaths of some of the famous leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. It also led to two pretty distinct groups of black activists. One group was rather violent, and one believed in peaceful nonviolent resistance.

Violence Breeds Violence

One side of this coin was more militant groups who demanded change or they threatened violent activity. The Black Panthers were a great example of this type of organization. Although they did preach violence, this organization also provided some much needed child care infrastructure to many black citizens all over the country. The Muslims also posed a violent threat, as leaders like Malcolm X, stated consistently that blacks deserve change and equality and if they aren’t given it, they should take it. Although toward the end of his life, he became more reconcilable, he was murdered not by the white opposition, but from fundamental opposition within his own organization. Violence was a part of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s but it was the far less effective force in leading to change. Violence leads to fear and separation, and ultimately to only more violence.

Nonviolent resistance

Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and he preached strict nonviolent resistance. This meant that protesters would violate laws and traditions which were racist and discriminatory, but wouldn’t resist any action by the police or government or both. This led to young peaceful African Americans being sprayed with water hoses, and punched and kicked as they simply walked in a peaceful protest. It also led to sit ins at establishments that practiced segregation, or at the college buildings where black Americans were unable to enroll, not because they weren’t intelligent enough, but because they happened to be born with a dark skin pigmentation.

In the end, Martin Luther King was killed by an assassin, but his death couldn’t change his message. All men are the same, it is the content of their character by which they should be judged not the color of their skin. This is a message that is accepted as a matter of fact today and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s is largely responsible for this.


International Relations and Human Rights

Prof. Michael Joseph Smith
Director, Political and Social Thought Program /
Woodrow Wilson Department of
Government and Foreign Affairs
232 Cabell Hall
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

Human Rights Topics

Human Rights Issues - at Derechos
OneWorld Net -- Outstanding website linking "over 1000 organizations working for Social Justice."

Children's Rights
Covenant House/Casa Alianza - working against violations to children's human rights in Central America.
"Street Children" Online Information and Organization Links - great links
Children's Freedom Network - working to defend the rights of children and young people throughout the world.
Free the Children - dedicated to the elimination of child labour and the exploitation of children
Pangaea Street Children
Global Childnet
Children Rights at HR Internet
Multilingual Human Rights - Focus on Children
Suffer The Little Children - Series by the Ottowa Sun
K.R.A.T.Z.A - German Children's Rights Group, info in German and Spanish
Save the Children - Swedish
Corporate Watch
Death Penalty
Death Penalty links - death penalty links at Derechos
ACLU Death Penalty Campaign
Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Disability Rights
Disabled Peoples' International
The Disability Rights Activist
Environment and Human Rights
Sierra Club --Current news about environmental justice issues world-wide, and opportunities for activism.
Green Net--UK based computer network for environment, peace, human rights and development
Americas Project: Human Rights and the Environment

Human Rights and the Environment in China -- a subsection of the Human Rights in China site

Gay and Lesbian Rights
The Human Rights Campaign - US Gay/Lesbian issues and opportunities for action.
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
The Queer Resources Directory

Health and Human Rights
The Health and Human Rights Group - The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Foundation - Int'l health and hr conference
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
Humanitarian Issues
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Relief Web Project of the UNDHA
Impunity Information
Indigenous People's Rights
The Fourth World Documentation Project
Center for World Indigenous Studies
Cultural Survival
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
The Mapuche Page - Indigenous people who live in southern Chile and Argentina
The South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC
Survival International
Internet Rights
Global Internet Liberty Campaign
Cyber Rights & Cyber Liberties - UK
The Patrin - Romani culture and history
European Roma Rights Center
Romani Rights Web
Unión Romaní
Privacy International - Watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations
Internet Privacy Coalition
Refugee and Immigrant Rights
For country information make sure to check our human rights around the world web page.
UN High Commission for Refugees - Wonderful Site with lots of info
USA for UNHCR - A group that builds support for the UNHCR in the USA.
The Refugee Network
Forced Migration Projects - great info on Eastern Europe/ex-Soviet Union
The Center for Refugee Studies - York University, Canada
Refugee / Immigrant Rights Coalition - of the Río Grande Valley
Hijra International - Swiss based organization working with magrebi and arab immigrants
Refugees International
Migration - by International Organization for Migration, great info
Refugee Rights - Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Applying for Refugee Status in Japan - Explanation by AI Japan
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Amnesty Internationl 1997 Refugee Campaign
Australia's Refugee Review Tribunal
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations
U.S. Committee for Refugees
Religion, Ethics and Human Rights - by the US Institute for Peace
Human Rights in Islam - essay by the Islamic Intellecutal Project
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Speech at Derechos
Freedom Forum - Freedom of Speech and the Press
International Federation of Journalists
Committee to Protect Journalists
Torture & Treatment - from Survivors International
Torture Survivors Network
Women's Rights
WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCES - Documents and Links from the Diana Project
Feminist Majority - Some Info on Women's human rights
Women for Women in Bosnia
Global Fund for Women
A Select Bibliography of Women's Human Rights - From the The American University Law Review


Special thanks to Cheyenne Sheafe for his assistance in the creation of this Human Rights website. Thanks as well to Prof. William F. Felice of Eckerd College. To submit URL links for consideration on this site, write to MJSmith@Virginia.EDU.