After the Civil War, the United States passed three new amendments to the Constitution: The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment granted citizenship and guaranteed equal protection under the law regardless of race. And the 15th Amendment gave men of every race the right to vote.
And yet, nearly 100 years later, civil rights leaders like John Lewis and Martin Luther King Jr., were marching in the streets to fight for those very same rights. African American citizens were being blocked from voting. Segregation still divided the South.
"The struggle of Civil Rights was to really redeem the soul of America," says John Lewis, now a long-serving congressman. "We wanted America, we wanted our people, to live up to the spirit of the Constitution."
This episode explores why these three civil rights amendments were stripped of their power -- and why the promise of racial equality, enshrined in the Constitution in the 19th century, still needed to be fought for in the 20th century and, now, the 21st.
What makes someone American? A landmark Supreme Court case in 1898, involving a child born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrant parents, would help answer that question.
Monday, August 14, 2017
From the American Revolution through today, women have been leading a long-burning rebellion to gain rights not originally guaranteed under the Constitution.
Monday, August 28, 2017