As most of you are aware, the United States has had a tumultuous history with civil rights and crazy laws. We’re not talking about laws that were silly or seemed unnecessary. No. We’re talking about laws that placed those who were innocent in harm’s way. The violation of our civil rights and the horrible laws associated with them targeted people because of their skin color, their national origin, and even their sexual orientation. Many lives were lost due to the consequences of these unjust laws, and a distrust of the government remains even to our present day.
As you will see in this list, dedicated civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are on the front lines, fighting to make sure we avoid laws that are hateful, discriminatory, or downright unfair. While they have made significant progress, more work is needed. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” so take a trip through history with us as we visit 25 Crazy Laws You Wouldn’t Believe America Would Still Have If It Weren’t For Civil Rights (and let’s not repeat history).
LGBT Labeled a Risk to National Security
In 1953, President Dwight D Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 in the name of national security. This order prevented any member of any group considered to be subversive in nature from being federal employees. While that may sound legit to some on the surface, the Order also listed “sexual perversion” as a security risk. Based on how the LGBT community was considered at that point in time, you can guess how that affected many people’s jobs.
Chinese Exclusion Act
When the country was still on the rise, many Chinese workers immigrated to the US, ready to work on the railroads and in mines, agriculture, factories, and other areas to help build up the country. However, as the success of such immigrants grew, so did a strong anti-Chinese vibe. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and extended it in 1892.
As a “reward” for becoming an ally in the war against Germany and Japan, Congress repealed this law in 1943 and set a quota of admitting 105 Chinese immigrants a year.
Mexican Deportation of 1930
While the phrase “Mexican deportation” might sound like something out of today’s news, this actually happened in 1930. After being accused of, “usurping “Americans” from jobs during the Depression,” over 400,000 Mexicans were deported, including many who had been granted US Citizenship.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly; the US government, at one point not that many years ago, actually deported its own citizens…all because they were originally born somewhere else.
No English Language Instruction
Despite there being no “official language” in the US and having a large minority population, many schools would not teach English or allow for bilingual education to students speaking another language. In the 1974 Supreme Court case Lau vs. Nichols, the court held that districts receiving federal funding must provide either English language instruction or bilingual instruction whenever there are significant numbers of non-English speaking minorities.
Love the English language and all its craziness? Take a look at 25 Common Sayings And Where They Came From.
Denial of Equal Educational Opportunities to Native Americans
Even after Native Americans were granted US citizenship, those that took advantage of their new status still faced obstacles. In some instances, Native American students had to travel 90 miles to get to school. It was argued that as citizens, these students deserved the right to an education within their community. Despite arguing that the students lived on a reservation, the public schools lost this lawsuit and were required to build a school within the Native American community. This lawsuit, which happened in 1997, was the first to enforce education statutes on behalf of Native Americans.
As you can see in this list, the efforts of civil rights groups like the ACLU make huge differences in society. If you want to support the efforts of ACLU in keeping our Civil Rights a reality, you can do so by donating to them here.
Photo credits: 22. Ted Eytan via flickr, 20. Damien Bariexca via flickr, 18. wsilver via flickr, 15. Max Pixel, 14. nyphotographic via blue diamond gallery 13. Pierre-Selim via wikimedia commons, 12. Democracy Chronicles via flickr, 11. Apple Realty via flickr, 9. Joseluis89 via wikimedia commons, 8. Karen Beate Nøsterud -/norden.org, 7. Kurt Lowenstein Education Center via flickr, 3. Rob Young via flickr, 2. penarc via wikimedia commons