Every human being is entailed to the human rights which include right to life, equal treatment, freedom of expression and thought, and liberty. These rights should not be denied to humans at any time of their life on the basis of gender, race, creed, religion, or ethnicity. The role of the law is to protect people and ensure that they acquire these rights at any time or place. No one is above the law when it comes to human rights; the military forces plus the government are expected by the law to also comply to the human rights standards. However, over the years, especially during the Civil war, conflicts sparked across the US because of the failure of the government to protect individual rights (Gilmore 112). During this period, there was great trauma among the African Americans who faced severe violations of their human rights because the government could not protect them. In most cases, the courts ruled against them because of the great discrimination that the whites had against the black in the society. This left many people wondering the role of the law in protecting the human rights if they are not equally granted to all human being. Charles Dugigg and Kenji Yoshino have looked into the history of human rights in the US while trying to evaluate the role of law and the government in protecting people regardless of their gender, race, creed, religion, or ethnicity. They have recounted instances in history when the courts were biased on their ruling based on appearances and the ways in which people behaved. These two authors take to a conclusion that it is hopeless to believe on the law because of how many times it failed to protect human rights during the Civil War. However, the civil war brought a new change in the society; it ensured that economic altruism was achieved enabling people to live a better life. Humane treatment have been used as an approach to protect the individual rights through civil rights and other legislation, but it is important to take into consideration the ways in which to minimize threat of conflict by focusing on less wrong while enabling people to live a more effective lifestyle.
By mid twentieth century, the African Americans were in the front raw to ensure that status within the nation was transformed. For a long period, they had lived through segregation and limitation in regards to what they can do or acquire in the nation. This made them feel like second class citizens because of the discrimination that they experienced from every corner including in schools, in the bus, in the churches, and in hotels. In order to achieve true liberation, the African Americans were forced to form movements, boycotts and strikes. Peer pressure and the power of the strong played a big role in the change that they later experienced. However, the white power was persistent which made the blacks to be improvisational in regards to tactics and strategies. It shows that indeed the Civil Rights movement was a struggle which extended beyond the gallant legal rights plus protection.
Freedom could only be achieved through boycotts and protests, from various court cases which they lost to popular culture as a way to challenge the white supremacy and authority. The blacks even contested the ways in which the whites conducted themselves. The reasons for doing all these is because they wanted the law to recognize and protect their rights by ensuring that they received similar human treatment like the whites. A good example is the case of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott which became an epicenter for civil rights campaign. The case of Parks might have triggered the Civil Rights Movement, but what is important is the impacts that it had in bringing equality to the black community. The blacks became persistent by holding regular meetings to ensure that the law was enforced.
However, when the Montgomery police decided to resort to arrest the black community in large numbers, in order for them to put an end to the boycotts, the community decided to embrace the oppressions. They were even willing to go to the extent of going to the courthouses to present themselves to be arrested. There were those blacks who took themselves to the sheriff’s office but when they found that they were not among the list, they felt disappointed (Duhigg101). This is because according to King, the blacks who once feared the whites had transformed and now were willing to do anything to see their rights being enacted in the nation. This shows that the threats of conflicts were still there as long as the blacks had not yet received the humane treatment that they were rightfully entitled to by the law. It shows the ways in which protest had given the people a new sense of self-identity. It fueled them to take over ownership of their right including equality and liberty in the nation.
June 5, 1956 became the day when the blacks began to experience change after the federal judges made a ruling claiming that the Montgomery bus segregation law was a violation of the Constitution. The city tried to appeal at the Supreme Court but it was rejected by the officials and made a ruling for the buses to be integrated. The following day, King, Ralph Abernathy and E.D. Nixon plus other blacks boarded a bus to the city for the first time after twelve months of protest and boycott and instead of sitting at the back they decided to sit at the front. At the same time, the white driver greeted them with much respect.
According to NAACP attorney plus Supreme Court justice, the boycott did not do much to end the bus segregation that took place in Montgomery instead it is the law which was changed by the Supreme Court (Dihugg 102). It is therefore clear that the civil rights movement became the wave for which peaceful demonstrations took place in the nation which led to the change that the change in regards to treatment that the black community had always longed to have for a long period. The movements also resulted in social patterns which changed the black’s sense of identity. It was the power of the habits of war and protests that caused the courts to change the law in favor of the blacks.
According to Yoshino, the contemporary civil rights law only protested against traits that could not be changed such as skin color, inmate sexual orientations or chromosomes. However, the current law has no obligation of covering the demands of the people that is related to their behaviors (Yoshino 540). Just like the case of Parks, civil rights should be built on what draws people together and not apart. This is the only way in which human wish of authenticity to acquire their rights minus it being impeded by demands that are unreasoning can be achieved.
The Supreme Court might have closed the civil rights doors, but it was sympathetic towards “liberty” regarding freedoms compared to equality because of the belief that this could have resulted in pluralism within the society. The courts had also shifted to a universal register which means that they came to accept the human rights. The universal shifts gave people their universal rights which were protected by the courts which offered protection as liberty which everyone was entitled to instead of equal rights that was attached to the national-origin group.
Peer Pressure and Power of the strong
Duhigg found that there is power of relationships and social habits in forming large-scale change. A good example is the case of Rosa Parks’s arrests when she decided to object the bus laws and segregation. Her refusal to stand for a white person to sit down which led to her arrest sparked Civil rights movement. This happened because she was deeply involved in various circles within her community where she offered various contributions. The power of these relationships is what triumphed over the apathy which inspired the connections and friends to provide a stand on Rosa’s behalf. The black American community from all parts of the nation got involved in the fight against segregation and racism. This is what Duhigg terms as “peer pressured” because it encouraged people from all networks who knew Park to get involved in the fight for civil rights (Duhigg85). According to Duhigg, close relationships or strong ties when combined with weak ties or connections which are distant have the ability and power to mobilize a wide group of people to achieve a common goal. It can cause people to instill new values and habits allowing movements to be self-directed. Rosa Parks experience is a strong lesson regarding social habits. Sometimes, there are certain people who are hard to see because of the low profile that they tend to have, but despite of this, they contain extremely powerful influence that has the potential to transform the world (Duhigg 87). During the 19th century, protests were common thing which popped up everywhere across the world and after a few days they were over. This is because the people who were involved in the protest did not have real friends or strong connection/ties that could change the world.
Various movements across the world start because of weak ties and social habits that hold the clans and neighborhoods together. The leaders of these movements such as Martin Luther King Junior provided new habits to the black community which gave them a sense of true identity giving them strength to fight for their human rights. When a movement is self-propelled, there will always be success in social change after years of struggles. The black community felt a sense of obligation to stand and fight for their rights. This is the reason many people including those who did not know Rosa got involved in the Montgomery bus boycott. This happened because of social peer pressure; immediately people heard the news about her arrest, they decided to spread it and at the same time take actions that would propel the government to do release Parks.
However, one thing that Duhugg came to learn was the fact that weak-tie acquaintances were important compared to strong-tie friends since they can provide social networks where people do not belong. The weak-ties power explains the reasons protests like the one in Montgomery expanded across the nation convincing thousands of individuals to pursue similar goal. There were hardships which were present by getting involved in the riots and boycotts, but that did not prevent people from coming together to fight for their equality and liberty. It means that peer pressure encourage people to come together and conform to the expectations of a group (Duhigg 92). The good thing about peer pressure is that it spreads through the weak ties giving the people authority to meet the communal expectations. On the other hand, an incredible momentum can be created when the weak ties of the pressure decides to merge with the strong ties of friendship in the community.
Economic altruism mainly focuses on less wrong which means that more efforts has to be put by people to make life more effective. This can involve administering change through financial supports, career changes, investing in projects which are cost-effective and adds value to people while at the same time bring change to human life. According to utilitarianism, the greatest good that a person can ever do is by averting suffering (Southan 18). The only good thing is that which counts meaning that whatever you accomplish should as much bring good to other people. The aim of civil war was to ensure that change was administered in the nation and humans managed to achieve the greatest good. The signing of the civil rights law was the beginning of a version of suffering giving people especially the people of color a chance to live a better life that brought value to them.
In conclusion, the best approach to protect the rights of all individuals through civil rights and other legislation is by ensuring that people receive similar degree of humane treatment because this is the only way to minimize the threat of conflict while at the same time respects the human rights. Black Americans held various protests in the nation as a way to enforce the government to enact the law which could grant them civil liberty. However, peer pressure and social influence played an important role in ensuring that the courts changed the law to ensure that the blacks received their human rights as expected by the constitution.
Duhigg, Charles. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” New York Times, 2013.
Gilmore, Glenda. Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919–1950. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008.
Southan, Rhys. “Is Art a Waste of Time?” New York Times, 2014.
Yoshino, Kenji. “Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights.” New York Times, 2006.