Civil rights ensure every human being receives equal treatment in a number of settings, including housing, employment, education and elsewhere. Civil rights are based on specific legally protected characteristics, such as race, gender and disability.
The term "civil rights" is commonly associated with the protection of minority groups, like Hispanics, African-Americans, women and, most recently, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Some of the most important civil rights in the United States are those guaranteed by the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution.
The U.S. Civil Rights Movement that began in the mid-1950s was dedicated to the activism for equal rights and treatment of African-Americans. During this era, people rallied for cultural, political, legal and social changes to end segregation and prohibit discrimination. The Civil Rights Movement was not only important to the U.S., but also to the rest of the world. It highlighted the unjust nature of segregation and discrimination while setting an example for oppressed people throughout the globe. The movement managed to successfully put an end to segregation legally and publicly, and completely redesigned America's social system in the process.
Civil rights differ from civil liberties. While civil rights revolve around the basic right to be free from discrimination, civil liberties are more broad-based freedom and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution at the federal level.