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A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: Get Involved

This guide focuses on the civil rights that various groups have fought for within the United States.

ad·vo·ca·cy - an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions

A lawyer’s either a social engineer or … a parasite on society … A social engineer [is] a highly skilled, perceptive, sensitive lawyer who [understands] the Constitution of the United States and [knows] how to explore its uses in the solving of problems of local communities and in bettering conditions of the underprivileged citizens. - Charles Hamilton Houston

There are many ways to foster change in our society. This page covers a variety of avenues you as an individual can take to use your voice and take action to help our community advance social justice causes. 


Get Involved at Howard University School of Law 


Library Resources 

  • Christopher W. Schmidt, The Sit-Ins: Protest & Legal Change in the Civil Rights EraE185.61 .S33 2018
  • Lessie B. Branch, Optimism at all Costs: Black Attitudes, Activism,and Advancement in Obama's American, E185.615 .B66 2018
  • Voting Resources:
    • HUSL Library's Continuity Guide contains a Voting section, tracking issues related to these uncertain and unprecedented times, covering selected resources and news.
    • VOTE: Request a Ballot (State by State guide): The 2020 General Election on November 3 is critically important. On this guide, find the information arranged by region, with an alphabetical list of states under each region. States are changing mail-in ballot processes to address the pandemic.


Organizations focused on Long-Term Efforts

Racial Equality
  • BLM's #WhatMatters2020 Campaign: This 2020 Election-focused campaign focuses on promoting voter registration "among Millennials, Generation Z, the Black community, and allies" and education voters about a wide range of issues including "racial injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, Black immigration, economic injustice, LGBTQIA+ and human rights, environmental injustice, access to healthcare, access to quality education, and voting rights and suppression."
  • Black Lives Matter DC: The local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Other Local BLM Chapters: Local chapters of BLM in many other areas of the country, they have their own social media accounts to facilitate engagement in civil action close to home.
  • American Civil Liberties Union: a variety of different ways you can help the ACLU fight for civic liberty protections
  • Anguish & Action: President Obama's non-profit organization dedicated to societal change.
  • National Black Women's Justice Institute: they work to reduce racial and gender disparities that affect Black women and their families. 
  • Until We Are All Free: focuses on immigrant and refugee rights to address racial justice and assist Black lives. 
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: the legal defense fund that supports the NAACP's fight for racial justice.
LGBTQ Organizations
Prisoners Assistance
Voters Rights
  • Fair Fight: "promotes fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourages voter participation in elections, and educates voters about elections and their voting rights. Fair Fight brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications."
  • Let America Vote: dedicated to fighting extreme voter suppression laws that disproportionately impact people based on their race or ethnicity, gender, age, or income are popping up all over the country at an alarming pace. 
Immigrant Rights
  • Immigration Advocates Network: is dedicated to expanding access to immigration legal resources and information through collaboration and technology. IAN was created in 2007 by leading immigrants' rights organizations, to increase access to justice for low-income immigrants and strengthen the capacity of organizations serving them.
  • National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: works to defend and expand the rights of all immigrants and refugees, regardless of immigration status. 


Quick Actions to Take Today



Free Educational Resources

  • Law Library of Congress Legal Research Institute: a comprehensive listing of free online and in-person legal research instructional resources. These include live and recorded webinars both foreign and U.S  law. 
  • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: The ACLU's instructional page that covers one's basic rights under the U.S Constitution and other civil rights laws. Learn more here about these rights, how to exercise them and what to do when they may be violated. 
  • National Immigration Law Center: the NILC's information page devoted to immigrant rights when dealing with law enforcement, employers, healthcare and other various scenarios.
  • Resources For Supporting Protesters: Pence Law Library's guide offers constructive ways to assist people advocating for civil rights and social justice, including links to social justice organizations, petitions, links to bail funds, news sources, and advice for protesters.
  • Protests & Public Safety: A Guide for Cities & Citizens: The toolkit offers detailed legal analysis suitable for municipal and state attorneys, as well as more general legal guardrails, best practices, and frequently asked questions intended to be more easily accessible to non-lawyer elected and appointed officials, concerned residents, and activists.
  • The Race, Research & Policy Portal: The web portal, hosted by The Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, provides searchable summaries of research on diversity, racial equity, and antiracist organizational change in a wide variety of settings.


Hashtags to Search

  • #EndPoliceBrutality
  • #GeorgeFloyd
  • #GeorgeFloydProtests
  • #Justice
  • #JusticeForAhmaud
  • #JusticeForAhmaudArbery
  • #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor
  • #JusticeForFloyd
  • #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd
  • #NoJusticeNoPeace
  • #PeacefulProtest
  • #Protests2020
  • #RIPGeorgeFloyd
  • #SayTheirNames
  • #WeCantBreathe
  • #KnowYourRights
  • #HowardUniversitySchoolofLaw
  • #HUSL