American civil liberties are under fire and all our gains from the civil rights movement are being imperiled by Trump’s administration, but there is something you can do to fight back.
2015 marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude. That amendment, the first of three Reconstruction Amendments, was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865.
The Fourteenth Amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868, as the second of the Reconstruction Amendments and addressed citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The Fourteenth Amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973), regarding abortion, and Bush v. Gore (2000), regarding the 2000 presidential election.
The Fifteenth Amendment, prohibiting the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.
The 1950s was a seminal decade for the the American Civil Rights Movement. This decade saw the first major victories for civil rights in the Supreme Court, such as Brown v. Board of Education, which declared legal school segregation unconstitutional. The 1950s also saw the development of non-violent protests and the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the movement’s pre-eminent leader. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which created the Civil Rights Commission and authorized the Justice Department to investigate cases of African Americans being denied voting rights in the South.
During the 1960s the non-violent techniques began to pay off, with civil rights activists and students throughout the South challenging segregation. By the mid-1960s, the Civil Rights Movement had succeeded in convincing the federal government to end legalized segregation, which was accomplished when President Lyndon B. Johnson was able to push through the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country. On September 1, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated as he stood on the balcony outside his motel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and on April 11, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (or the Fair Housing Act) into law, which prohibits discrimination by sellers or renters of property.
There have been other challenges and setbacks to the Civil Rights Movement over the passing decades, but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to racial relations and civil liberties in America; and Trump and his administration are threatening to hurl the country decades into the past.
Here are six ways you can push back against the Trump administration’s anti-civil rights, anti-immigrant, anti-Obamacare, anti-woman, anti-pretty-much-anything-that-makes-us-proud-to-be-Americans agenda.
1. VOLUNTEER: Volunteering time or money to organizations and groups supporting liberal and progressive causes like Planned Parenthood gives them strength in numbers and helps build a grassroots coalition to defeat Trump’s agenda. All it takes is a few dollars or a couple of hours of volunteer time a week. As Elizabeth Warren told Rachel Maddow a couple of weeks ago: “Volunteering is a way to say we’re making these groups stronger.”
2. HOLD YOUR LEGISLATORS ACCOUNTABLE: Contact your federal, local and state legislators and tell them the issues that matter to you and remind them that as elected officials they work for us – the people. You can also remind them that if they are not prepared to do battle against Trump’s agenda you will remember that during the next election, when we can replace them with candidates willing to stand up and fight for liberal and progressive ideals. As filmmaker and activist Michael Moore wrote in his morning after the election to-do list: “Any Democratic member of Congress who didn’t wake up this morning ready to fight, resist and obstruct in the way Republicans did against President Obama every day for eight full years must step out of the way and let those of us who know the score lead the way in stopping the meanness and the madness that’s about to begin.”
3. ADVOCATE TRUTHFULNESS: Don’t idly stand by while Trump supporters and Republicans make false claims about having a mandate from the people and that we are sore losers. Use Twitter and Facebook, email and phones to remind people that Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by over 1.7 million votes, and that margin is increasing as absentee and provisional ballots continue being counted. Remind them that Trump won the election due to an “arcane, insane 18th-century idea called the Electoral College” that Constitutional scholars say is a shameful remnant of slavery that must end.
Remind everyone that Democrats picked up 6 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and picked up 2 seats in the U.S. Senate, that a runoff election is scheduled for Louisiana on December 10th – that it is possible that Democrats might pick up another Senate seat there.
Challenge that loudmouth at Starbucks, Twitter and Facebook spouting out his or her illogical, unsubstantiated opinion.
4. SUPPORT PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZATIONS: Yesterday was the time to lick our wounds and mourn for what could have been, but today it’s time we regroup, we organize, we find the resolve to fight back; and we can do this by supporting progressive organizations that are out there in the trenches – with boots on the ground – fighting the good fight each and every day. Here is a List Of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigot Organizations That We Need To Support to get you started – today!
5. SPEND YOUR MONEY AT COMPANIES SUPPORTING LIBERAL AND PROGRESSIVE CAUSES: This way you can actually use your money to send a message that reflects OUR values and priorities. There are millions of businesses in this country who are constantly vying for your patronage. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you are contributing to those who will use your hard earned dollars to fight for the left? Here is a list of 10 Great Progressive Companies Where We SHOULD Spend Our Money.
6. BE AWARE OF COMPANIES SUPPORTING TRUMP AND THE CONSERVATIVE AGENDA AND BOYCOTT THEM: Identify companies supporting Trump’s agenda and his efforts to undermine personal freedoms, the rights of immigrants, women’s reproductive health access… Protest With Your Wallet! Boycott These 28 Businesses Who Sell Trump Products! Here is a recently updated list of 10 Right Wing Companies That Every Progressive Should Boycott, and here is a more expansive List of Companies Supporting Right-Wing Causes To Boycott.