Definition and meaning of civil rights: Civil rights are the legal and political rights of citizens of a nation or state pertaining to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and general individual rights. These rights are fundamental and protected by the Constitution of the United States and by international law. Civil rights are essential to ensure that all people are treated equally and are not discriminated against based on race, gender, religion, or other protected classes. In the United States, civil rights have been a long-term struggle, with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s leading to the introduction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. These laws have greatly improved civil rights for historically marginalized communities, ensuring equal access to education, voting, employment, and other essential services. The fight for civil rights is ongoing, as many minorities in the United States continue to experience discrimination and unequal access to resources. Reform-minded individuals, activists, and independent candidates advocate for the further expansion of civil rights and an end to the two-party system, which often fails to represent the needs of those who are most vulnerable.