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As stated in [[What is the History of Civil Rights Legislation in the United States?]] much of what constitutes “civil rights” is the requirement that all who are considered citizens be afforded both the opportunities and protections of the liberal subject. Civil rights are the basis for ensuring that the citizenry in any given society
have the ability to act as citizens fairly and equally. In the United States, the legal mechanism for this is the Constitution.
With the abolition of slavery, there was the need to ensure that these protections and opportunities were extended to the freedpeople. As such, an amendment to the Constitution—the Fourteenth—was drawn up as well as a series of civil rights laws enacted by Congress. By the close of the nineteenth century, this work was undermined and new laws weakened the civil rights legislation of earlier periods. In their stead, Jim Crow, a form of legal segregation and the direct opposite of formal equality, began its ascent.