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Civil Rights Laws - History

Civil Rights Laws - History


A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: Jim Crow Era

After the Civil War, there was a period from about 1865 to 1877 where federal laws offered observable protection of civil rights for former slaves and free blacks it wasn't entirely awful to be an African American, even in the South. However, starting in the 1870s, as the Southern economy continued its decline, Democrats took over power in Southern legislatures and used intimidation tactics to suppress black voters. Tactics included violence against blacks and those tactics continued well into the 1900s. Lynchings were a common form of terrorism practiced against blacks to intimidate them. It is important to remember that the Democrats and Republicans of the late 1800s were very different parties from their current iterations. Republicans in the time of the Civil War and directly after were literally the party of Lincoln and anathema to the South. As white, Southern Democrats took over legislatures in the former Confederate states, they began passing more restrictive voter registration and electoral laws, as well as passing legislation to segregate blacks and whites.

It wasn't enough just to separate out blacks - segregation was never about "separate but equal." While the Supreme Court naively speculated in Plessy v. Ferguson that somehow mankind wouldn't show its worst nature and that segregation could occur without one side being significantly disadvantaged despite all evidence to the contrary, we can look back in hindsight and see that the Court was either foolishly optimistic or suffering from the same racism that gripped the other arms of the government at the time. In practice, the services and facilities for blacks were consistently inferior, underfunded, and more inconvenient as compared to those offered to whites - or the services and facilities did not exist at all for blacks. And while segregation was literal law in the South, it was also practiced in the northern United States via housing patterns enforced by private covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory labor union practices. This kind of de facto segregation has lasted well into our own time.

The era of Jim Crow laws saw a dramatic reduction in the number of blacks registered to vote within the South. This time period brought about the Great Migration of blacks to northern and western cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a resurgence and spread all over the country, finding a significant popularity that has lingered to this day in the Midwest. It was claimed at the height of the second incarnation of the KKK that its membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide. The Klan didn't shy away from using burning crosses and other intimidation tools to strike fear into their opponents, who included not just blacks, but also Catholics, Jews, and anyone who wasn't a white Protestant.


Interracial Marriage Laws History and Timeline

Centuries before the same-sex marriage movement, the U.S. government, its constituent states, and their colonial predecessors tackled the controversial issue of "miscegenation," or mixture of races. It's widely known that the Deep South banned interracial marriages until 1967, but less widely known is that many other states did the same. California, for example, prohibited these marriages until 1948. In addition, politicians made three brazen attempts to ban interracial marriages nationally by amending the U.S. Constitution.

Maryland passes the first British colonial law banning marriage between White people and Black people—a law that, among other things, orders the enslavement of White women who have married Black men:

This legislation leaves unaddressed two important questions: It draws no distinction between enslaved and free Black people and omits marriages between white men who marry Black women. But the colonial governments did not leave these questions unanswered for long.

The Commonwealth of Virginia bans all interracial marriages, threatening to exile White men and women who marry Black people or Native American people. In the 17th century, exile usually functioned as a death sentence:

Leaders in Maryland's colonial government liked this idea so much that they implemented a similar policy a year later. And, in 1705, Virginia expanded the policy to impose massive fines on any minister who performs a marriage between a Native American or Black person and a White person—with half the amount (10,000 pounds) to be paid to the informant.

In 1725, Pennsylvania passed a law banning interracial marriage. Fifty-five years later, however, the commonwealth repealed it as part of a series of reforms to gradually abolish slavery there. The state intended to grant free Black people equal legal status.

Massachusetts becomes the second state to repeal its anti-miscegenation law, further cementing the distinction between northern and southern states on enslavement and civil rights. The original 1705 ban, the third such law following those of Maryland and Virginia, prohibited both marriage and intimate relations between Black people or Native Americans and White people.

Rep. Andrew King, D-Mo., proposes a U.S. constitutional amendment banning all interracial marriage in every state throughout the country. It will be the first of three such attempts.

Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Getty Images

In Pace v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that state-level bans on interracial marriage do not violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The ruling will hold for more than 80 years.

The plaintiffs, Tony Pace, and Mary Cox, were arrested under Alabama's Section 4189, which read:

They challenged the conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Johnson Field wrote for the court:

Field stressed that Section 4189 applies the same punishment to both offenders, regardless of race. This meant, he argued, that the law was not discriminatory and that even the punishment for violating it was the same for each offender, whether the person was White or Black.

More than a century later, opponents of same-sex marriage will resurrect the same argument in claiming that heterosexual-only marriage laws don't discriminate on the basis of sex since they technically punish men and women on equal terms.

Frederick Bass / Getty Images

Rep. Seaborn Roddenbery, D-Ga., makes a second attempt to revise the Constitution to ban interracial marriage in all 50 states. Roddenbery's proposed amendment stated:

Later theories of physical anthropology will suggest that every human being has some African ancestry, which could have rendered this amendment unenforceable had it passed. In any case, it didn't pass.

Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

While most anti-miscegenation laws primarily targeted interracial marriages between White people and Black people or White people and American Indians, the climate of anti-Asian xenophobia that defined the early decades of the 20th century meant that Asian Americans were also targeted. In this case, the Cable Act retroactively stripped the citizenship of any U.S. citizen who married "an alien ineligible for citizenship," which—under the racial quota system of the time—primarily meant Asian Americans.

The impact of this law was not merely theoretical. Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Thind that Asian Americans are not White and therefore cannot legally become citizens, the U.S. government revoked the citizenship of American-born Mary Keatinge Das, wife of the Pakistani American activist Taraknath Das, and Emily Chinn, mother of four and wife of a Chinese American immigrant. Traces of anti-Asian immigration law remained until the passage of the ​Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Sen. Coleman Blease, D-S.C., a Ku Klux Klan supporter who had previously served as South Carolina's governor, makes a third and final attempt to revise the U.S. Constitution to ban interracial marriage in every state. Like its predecessors, it fails.

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

In McLaughlin v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules that laws banning interracial relationships violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

McLaughlin struck down Florida Statute 798.05, which read:

While the ruling did not directly address laws banning interracial marriage, it laid down the groundwork for a ruling that definitively did.

The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images / Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturns Pace v. Alabama (1883), ruling in Loving v. Virginia that state bans on interracial marriage violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the court:

Warren pointed out that the 14th Amendment provides the freedom to marry, regardless of the race of those involved. He said the state cannot infringe upon this right, and after this landmark high court decision, interracial marriage became legal throughout the United States.

Following a Nov. 7 ballot referendum, Alabama becomes the last state to officially legalize interracial marriage. By November 2000, interracial marriage had been legal in every state for more than three decades, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 ruling. But the Alabama State Constitution still contained an unenforceable ban in Section 102:

The Alabama State Legislature stubbornly clung to the old language as a symbolic statement of the state's views on interracial marriage. As recently as 1998, House leaders successfully killed attempts to remove Section 102.
When voters finally had the opportunity to remove the language, the outcome was surprisingly close: although 59% of voters supported removing the language, 41% favored keeping it. Interracial marriage remains controversial in the Deep South, where a 2011 poll found that a plurality of Mississippi Republicans still supports anti-miscegenation laws.


Contents

Reconstruction and New Deal era Edit

In the 1883 landmark Civil Rights Cases, the United States Supreme Court had ruled that Congress did not have the power to prohibit discrimination in the private sector, thus stripping the Civil Rights Act of 1875 of much of its ability to protect civil rights. [7]

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the legal justification for voiding the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was part of a larger trend by members of the United States Supreme Court to invalidate most government regulations of the private sector, except when dealing with laws designed to protect traditional public morality.

In the 1930s, during the New Deal, the majority of the Supreme Court justices gradually shifted their legal theory to allow for greater government regulation of the private sector under the commerce clause, thus paving the way for the Federal government to enact civil rights laws prohibiting both public and private sector discrimination on the basis of the commerce clause.

Civil Rights Act of 1957 Edit

The Civil Rights Act of 1957, signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 9, 1957, was the first federal civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. After the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, Southern Democrats began a campaign of "massive resistance" against desegregation, and even the few moderate white leaders shifted to openly racist positions. [8] [9] Partly in an effort to defuse calls for more far-reaching reforms, Eisenhower proposed a civil rights bill that would increase the protection of African American voting rights. [10]

Despite having a limited impact on African-American voter participation, at a time when black voter registration was just 20%, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 did establish the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. By 1960, black voting had increased by only 3%, [11] and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which eliminated certain loopholes left by the 1957 Act.

1963 Kennedy civil rights bill Edit

The 1964 bill was first proposed by United States President John F. Kennedy in his Report to the American People on Civil Rights on June 11, 1963. [12] Kennedy sought legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments"—as well as "greater protection for the right to vote."

Kennedy delivered this speech in the aftermath of the Birmingham campaign and the growing number of demonstrations and protests throughout the southern United States. He was moved to action following the elevated racial tensions and wave of African-American protests in the spring of 1963. [13] In late July, according to a New York Times article, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, warned that if Congress failed to pass Kennedy's civil rights bill, the country would face another civil war. [14]

After the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, on August 28, 1963, the organizers visited Kennedy to discuss the civil rights bill. [15] Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Walter Reuther attempted to persuade him to support a provision establishing a Fair Employment Practices Commission that would ban discriminatory practices by all federal agencies, unions, and private companies. [15]

Emulating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Kennedy's civil rights bill included provisions to ban discrimination in public accommodations and enable the U.S. Attorney General to join in lawsuits against state governments that operated segregated school systems, among other provisions. But it did not include a number of provisions deemed essential by civil rights leaders, including protection against police brutality, ending discrimination in private employment, or granting the Justice Department power to initiate desegregation or job discrimination lawsuits. [16]

House of Representatives Edit

On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy met with Republican leaders to discuss the legislation before his television address to the nation that evening. Two days later, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield both voiced support for the president's bill, except for provisions guaranteeing equal access to places of public accommodations. This led to several Republican Representatives drafting a compromise bill to be considered. On June 19, the president sent his bill to Congress as it was originally written, saying legislative action was "imperative". [17] [18] The president's bill went first to the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Emanuel Celler, a Democrat from New York. After a series of hearings on the bill, Celler's committee strengthened the act, adding provisions to ban racial discrimination in employment, providing greater protection to black voters, eliminating segregation in all publicly owned facilities (not just schools), and strengthening the anti-segregation clauses regarding public facilities such as lunch counters. They also added authorization for the Attorney General to file lawsuits to protect individuals against the deprivation of any rights secured by the Constitution or U.S. law. In essence, this was the controversial "Title III" that had been removed from the 1957 Act and 1960 Act. Civil rights organizations pressed hard for this provision because it could be used to protect peaceful protesters and black voters from police brutality and suppression of free speech rights. [16]

Kennedy called the congressional leaders to the White House in late October 1963 to line up the necessary votes in the House for passage. [19] The bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in November 1963 and referred to the Rules Committee, whose chairman, Howard W. Smith, a Democrat and staunch segregationist from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely.

Johnson's appeal to Congress Edit

The assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, changed the political situation. Kennedy's successor as president, Lyndon B. Johnson, made use of his experience in legislative politics, along with the bully pulpit he wielded as president, in support of the bill. In his first address to a joint session of Congress on November 27, 1963, Johnson told the legislators, "No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long." [20]

Judiciary Committee chairman Celler filed a petition to discharge the bill from the Rules Committee [16] it required the support of a majority of House members to move the bill to the floor. Initially, Celler had a difficult time acquiring the signatures necessary, with many Representatives who supported the civil rights bill itself remaining cautious about violating normal House procedure with the rare use of a discharge petition. By the time of the 1963 winter recess, 50 signatures were still needed.

After the return of Congress from its winter recess, however, it was apparent that public opinion in the North favored the bill and that the petition would acquire the necessary signatures. To avert the humiliation of a successful discharge petition, Chairman Smith relented and allowed the bill to pass through the Rules Committee. [16]

Lobbying efforts Edit

Lobbying support for the Civil Rights Act was coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of 70 liberal and labor organizations. The principal lobbyists for the Leadership Conference were civil rights lawyer Joseph L. Rauh Jr. and Clarence Mitchell Jr. of the NAACP. [21]

Passage in the Senate Edit

Johnson, who wanted the bill passed as soon as possible, ensured that it would be quickly considered by the Senate. Normally, the bill would have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by James O. Eastland, a Democrat from Mississippi, whose firm opposition made it seem impossible that the bill would reach the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield took a novel approach to prevent the bill from being kept in limbo by the Judiciary Committee: initially waiving a second reading immediately after the first reading, which would have sent it to the Judiciary Committee, he took the unprecedented step of giving the bill a second reading on February 26, 1964, thereby bypassing the Judiciary Committee, and sending it to the Senate floor for debate immediately.

When the bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964, the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and lone Republican John Tower of Texas, led by Richard Russell, launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. [23] Russell proclaimed, "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would tend to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our [Southern] states." [24]

Strong opposition to the bill also came from Senator Strom Thurmond, who was still a Democrat at the time: "This so-called Civil Rights Proposals [sic], which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress." [25]

After the filibuster had gone on for 54 days, Senators Mansfield, Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield, Everett Dirksen, and Thomas Kuchel introduced a substitute bill that they hoped would overcome it by combining a sufficient number of Republicans as well as core liberal Democrats. The compromise bill was weaker than the House version as to the government's power in regulating the conduct of private business, but not weak enough to make the House reconsider it. [26]

Senator Robert Byrd ended his filibuster in opposition to the bill on the morning of June 10, 1964, after 14 hours and 13 minutes. Up to then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 60 working days, including six Saturdays. The day before, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey, the bill's manager, concluded that he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate and the filibuster. With six wavering senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29. Never before in its entire history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to defeat a filibuster on a civil rights bill, and only once in the 37 years since 1927 had it agreed to cloture for any measure. [27]

The most dramatic moment during the cloture vote came when Senator Clair Engle was wheeled into the chamber. Suffering from terminal brain cancer, unable to speak, he pointed to his left eye, signifying his affirmative "Aye" vote when his name was called. He died seven weeks later.

On June 19, the compromise bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73–27, quickly passed through the conference committee, which adopted the Senate version of the bill, then was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by Johnson on July 2, 1964. [28]

Vote totals Edit

Totals are in YeaNay format:

  • The original House version: 290–130 (69–31%)
  • Cloture in the Senate: 71–29 (71–29%)
  • The Senate version: 73–27 (73–27%)
  • The Senate version, as voted on by the House: 289–126 (70–30%)

By party Edit

The original House version: [29]

The Senate version, voted on by the House: [29]

By region Edit

Note that "Southern", as used here, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that had made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states. [31]

The House of Representatives: [31]

  • Northern: 72–6 (92–8%)
  • Southern: 1–21 (5–95%) – Ralph Yarborough of Texas was the only Southerner to vote in favor in the Senate

By party and region Edit

The House of Representatives: [3] [31]

  • Southern Democrats: 8–83 (9–91%) – four Representatives from Texas (Jack Brooks, Albert Thomas, J. J. Pickle, and Henry González), two from Tennessee (Richard Fulton and Ross Bass), Claude Pepper of Florida and Charles L. Weltner of Georgia voted in favor
  • Southern Republicans: 0–11 (0–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145–8 (95–5%)
  • Northern Republicans: 136–24 (85–15%)

Note that four Representatives voted Present while 12 did not vote.

  • Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%) – only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor
  • Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%) – John Tower of Texas, the only Southern Republican at the time, voted against
  • Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) – only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against
  • Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%) – Norris Cotton (NH), Barry Goldwater (AZ), Bourke Hickenlooper (IA), Edwin Mecham (NM), and Milward Simpson (WY) voted against

Aspects Edit

Women's rights Edit

Just one year earlier, the same Congress had passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibited wage differentials based on sex. The prohibition on sex discrimination was added to the Civil Rights Act by Howard W. Smith, a powerful Virginia Democrat who chaired the House Rules Committee and who strongly opposed the legislation. Smith's amendment was passed by a teller vote of 168 to 133. Historians debate Smith's motivation, whether it was a cynical attempt to defeat the bill by someone opposed to civil rights both for blacks and women, or an attempt to support their rights by broadening the bill to include women. [33] [34] [35] [36] Smith expected that Republicans, who had included equal rights for women in their party's platform since 1944, [37] would probably vote for the amendment. Historians speculate that Smith was trying to embarrass northern Democrats who opposed civil rights for women because the clause was opposed by labor unions. Representative Carl Elliott of Alabama later claimed "Smith didn't give a damn about women's rights", as "he was trying to knock off votes either then or down the line because there was always a hard core of men who didn't favor women's rights", [38] and the Congressional Record records that Smith was greeted by laughter when he introduced the amendment. [39]

Smith asserted that he was not joking and he sincerely supported the amendment. Along with Representative Martha Griffiths, [40] he was the chief spokesperson for the amendment. [39] For twenty years, Smith had sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment (with no linkage to racial issues) in the House because he believed in it. He for decades had been close to the National Woman's Party and its leader Alice Paul, who had been a leading figure in winning the right to vote for women in 1920, was co-author of the first Equal Rights Amendment, and a chief supporter of equal rights proposals since then. She and other feminists had worked with Smith since 1945 trying to find a way to include sex as a protected civil rights category and felt now was the moment. [41] Griffiths argued that the new law would protect black women but not white women, and that was unfair to white women. Black feminist lawyer Pauli Murray wrote a supportive memorandum at the behest of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women. [42] Griffiths also argued that the laws "protecting" women from unpleasant jobs were actually designed to enable men to monopolize those jobs, and that was unfair to women who were not allowed to try out for those jobs. [43] The amendment passed with the votes of Republicans and Southern Democrats. The final law passed with the votes of Republicans and Northern Democrats. Thus, as Justice William Rehnquist explained in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, "The prohibition against discrimination based on sex was added to Title VII at the last minute on the floor of the House of Representatives [. ] the bill quickly passed as amended, and we are left with little legislative history to guide us in interpreting the Act's prohibition against discrimination based on 'sex. ' " [44]

Desegregation Edit

One of the most damaging arguments by the bill's opponents was that once passed, the bill would require forced busing to achieve certain racial quotas in schools. [45] Proponents of the bill, such as Emanuel Celler and Jacob Javits, said that the bill would not authorize such measures. Leading sponsor Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) wrote two amendments specifically designed to outlaw busing. [45] Humphrey said, "if the bill were to compel it, it would be a violation [of the Constitution], because it would be handling the matter on the basis of race and we would be transporting children because of race." [45] While Javits said any government official who sought to use the bill for busing purposes "would be making a fool of himself," two years later the Department of Health, Education and Welfare said that Southern school districts would be required to meet mathematical ratios of students by busing. [45]

Political repercussions Edit

The bill divided and engendered a long-term change in the demographic support of both parties. President Kennedy realized that supporting this bill would risk losing the South's overwhelming support of the Democratic Party. Both Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Vice President Johnson had pushed for the introduction of the civil rights legislation. Johnson told Kennedy aide Ted Sorensen that "I know the risks are great and we might lose the South, but those sorts of states may be lost anyway." [46] Senator Richard Russell, Jr. later warned President Johnson that his strong support for the civil rights bill "will not only cost you the South, it will cost you the election". [47] Johnson, however, went on to win the 1964 election by one of the biggest landslides in American history. The South, which had five states swing Republican in 1964, became a stronghold of the Republican Party by the 1990s. [48]

Although majorities in both parties voted for the bill, there were notable exceptions. Though he opposed forced segregation, [49] Republican 1964 presidential candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, voted against the bill, remarking, "You can't legislate morality." Goldwater had supported previous attempts to pass civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 as well as the 24th Amendment outlawing the poll tax. He stated that the reason for his opposition to the 1964 bill was Title II, which in his opinion violated individual liberty and states' rights. Democrats and Republicans from the Southern states opposed the bill and led an unsuccessful 83-day filibuster, including Senators Albert Gore, Sr. (D-TN) and J. William Fulbright (D-AR), as well as Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who personally filibustered for 14 hours straight.

Continued resistance Edit

There were white business owners who claimed that Congress did not have the constitutional authority to ban segregation in public accommodations. For example, Moreton Rolleston, the owner of a motel in Atlanta, Georgia, said he should not be forced to serve black travelers, saying, "the fundamental question [. ] is whether or not Congress has the power to take away the liberty of an individual to run his business as he sees fit in the selection and choice of his customers". [50] Rolleston claimed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a breach of the Fourteenth Amendment and also violated the Fifth and Thirteenth Amendments by depriving him of "liberty and property without due process". [50] In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), the Supreme Court held that Congress drew its authority from the Constitution's Commerce Clause, rejecting Rolleston's claims.

Resistance to the public accommodation clause continued for years on the ground, especially in the South. [51] When local college students in Orangeburg, South Carolina, attempted to desegregate a bowling alley in 1968, they were violently attacked, leading to rioting and what became known as the "Orangeburg massacre." [52] Resistance by school boards continued into the next decade, with the most significant declines in black-white school segregation only occurring at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s in the aftermath of the Green v. County School Board of New Kent County (1968) court decision. [53]

Later impact on LGBT rights Edit

In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in three cases (Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which barred employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, also barred employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. [54] Afterward, USA Today stated that in addition to LGBTQ employment discrimination, "[t]he court's ruling is likely to have a sweeping impact on federal civil rights laws barring sex discrimination in education, health care, housing and financial credit." [55] On June 23, 2020, Queer Eye actors Jonathan Van Ness and Bobby Berk praised the Civil Right Act rulings, which Van Ness called "a great step in the right direction." [56] But both of them still urged the United States Congress to pass the proposed Equality Act, which Berk claimed would amend the Civil Rights Act so it "would really extend healthcare and housing rights". [56]

Title I—voting rights Edit

This title barred unequal application of voter registration requirements. Title I did not eliminate literacy tests, which acted as one barrier for black voters, other racial minorities, and poor whites in the South or address economic retaliation, police repression, or physical violence against nonwhite voters. While the Act did require that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all races, it did not abolish the concept of voter "qualification". It accepted the idea that citizens do not have an automatic right to vote but would have to meet standards beyond citizenship. [57] [58] [59] The Voting Rights Act of 1965 directly addressed and eliminated most voting qualifications beyond citizenship. [57]

Title II—public accommodations Edit

Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce exempted private clubs without defining the term "private". [60]

Title III—desegregation of public facilities Edit

Prohibited state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.

Title IV—desegregation of public education Edit

Enforced the desegregation of public schools and authorized the U.S. Attorney General to file suits to enforce said act.

Title V—Commission on Civil Rights Edit

Expanded the Civil Rights Commission established by the earlier Civil Rights Act of 1957 with additional powers, rules, and procedures.

Title VI—nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs Edit

Prevents discrimination by programs and activities that receive federal funds. If a recipient of federal funds is found in violation of Title VI, that recipient may lose its federal funding.

This title declares it to be the policy of the United States that discrimination on the ground of race, color, or national origin shall not occur in connection with programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance and authorizes and directs the appropriate Federal departments and agencies to take action to carry out this policy. This title is not intended to apply to foreign assistance programs. Section 601 – This section states the general principle that no person in the United States shall be excluded from participation in or otherwise discriminated against on the ground of race, color, or national origin under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Section 602 directs each Federal agency administering a program of Federal financial assistance by way of grant, contract, or loan to take action pursuant to rule, regulation, or order of general applicability to effectuate the principle of section 601 in a manner consistent with the achievement of the objectives of the statute authorizing the assistance. In seeking the effect compliance with its requirements imposed under this section, an agency is authorized to terminate or to refuse to grant or to continue assistance under a program to any recipient as to whom there has been an express finding pursuant to a hearing of a failure to comply with the requirements under that program, and it may also employ any other means authorized by law. However, each agency is directed first to seek compliance with its requirements by voluntary means.

Section 603 provides that any agency action taken pursuant to section 602 shall be subject to such judicial review as would be available for similar actions by that agency on other grounds. Where the agency action consists of terminating or refusing to grant or to continue financial assistance because of a finding of a failure of the recipient to comply with the agency's requirements imposed under section 602, and the agency action would not otherwise be subject to judicial review under existing law, judicial review shall nevertheless be available to any person aggrieved as provided in section 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. § 1009). The section also states explicitly that in the latter situation such agency action shall not be deemed committed to unreviewable agency discretion within the meaning of section 10. The purpose of this provision is to obviate the possible argument that although section 603 provides for review in accordance with section 10, section 10 itself has an exception for action "committed to agency discretion," which might otherwise be carried over into section 603. It is not the purpose of this provision of section 603, however, otherwise to alter the scope of judicial review as presently provided in section 10(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The December 11, 2019 executive order on combating antisemitism states: "While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices. Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in antisemitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI." The order specifies that agencies responsible for Title VI enforcement shall "consider" the (non-legally binding) working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on May 26, 2016, as well as the IHRA list of Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism, "to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent". [61]

Title VII—equal employment opportunity Edit

Title VII of the Act, codified as Subchapter VI of Chapter 21 of title 42 of the United States Code, prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 [62] ). Title VII applies to and covers an employer "who has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year" as written in the Definitions section under 42 U.S.C. §2000e(b). Title VII also prohibits discrimination against an individual because of his or her association with another individual of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, such as by an interracial marriage. [63] The EEO Title VII has also been supplemented with legislation prohibiting pregnancy, age, and disability discrimination (see Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, [64] Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

In very narrowly defined situations, an employer is permitted to discriminate on the basis of a protected trait if the trait is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise. To make a BFOQ defense, an employer must prove three elements: a direct relationship between the trait and the ability to perform the job the BFOQ's relation to the "essence" or "central mission of the employer's business", and that there is no less restrictive or reasonable alternative (United Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U.S. 187 (1991) 111 S.Ct. 1196). BFOQ is an extremely narrow exception to the general prohibition of discrimination based on protected traits (Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977) 97 S.Ct. 2720). An employer or customer's preference for an individual of a particular religion is not sufficient to establish a BFOQ (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kamehameha School—Bishop Estate, 990 F.2d 458 (9th Cir. 1993)).

Title VII allows any employer, labor organization, joint labor-management committee, or employment agency to bypass the "unlawful employment practice" for any person involved with the Communist Party of the United States or of any other organization required to register as a Communist-action or Communist-front organization by final order of the Subversive Activities Control Board pursuant to the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950. [65]

There are partial and whole exceptions to Title VII for four types of employers:

  • Federal government (the proscriptions against employment discrimination under Title VII are now applicable to certain federal government offices under 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-16)
  • Federally recognized Native American tribes [66]
  • Religious groups performing work connected to the group's activities, including associated education institutions
  • Bona fide nonprofit private membership organizations

The Bennett Amendment is a US labor law provision in Title VII that limits sex discrimination claims regarding pay to the rules in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It says an employer can "differentiate upon the basis of sex" when it compensates employees "if such differentiation is authorized by" the Equal Pay Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as certain state fair employment practices agencies (FEPAs), enforce Title VII (see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-4). [62] The EEOC and state FEPAs investigate, mediate, and may file lawsuits on employees' behalf. Where a state law contradicts federal law, it is overridden. [67] Every state except Arkansas and Mississippi maintains a state FEPA (see EEOC and state FEPA directory ). Title VII also provides that an individual can bring a private lawsuit. They must file a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of learning of the discrimination or they may lose the right to file suit. Title VII applies only to employers who employ 15 or more employees for 20 or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year (42 U.S.C. § 2000e#b).

Administrative precedents Edit

In 2012, the EEOC ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status is prohibited under Title VII. The decision held that discrimination on the basis of gender identity qualified as discrimination on the basis of sex whether the discrimination was due to sex stereotyping, discomfort with a transition, or discrimination due to a perceived change in the individual's sex. [68] [69] In 2014, the EEOC initiated two lawsuits against private companies for discrimination on the basis of gender identity, with additional litigation under consideration. [70] As of November 2014 [update] , Commissioner Chai Feldblum is making an active effort to increase awareness of Title VII remedies for individuals discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. [71] [72] [ needs update ]

On December 15, 2014, under a memorandum issued by Attorney General Eric Holder, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) took a position aligned with the EEOC's, namely that the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII encompassed the prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status. DOJ had already stopped opposing claims of discrimination brought by federal transgender employees. [73] The EEOC in 2015 reissued another non-binding memo, reaffirming its stance that sexual orientation was protected under Title VII. [74]

In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the Holder memorandum. [75] According to a copy of Sessions' directive reviewed by BuzzFeed News, he stated that Title VII should be narrowly interpreted to cover discrimination between "men and women". Sessions stated that as a matter of law, "Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se." [76] Devin O'Malley, on behalf of the DOJ, said, "the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle [that the Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided], which necessitated today's action." Sharon McGowan, a lawyer with Lambda Legal who previously served in the Civil Rights division of DOJ, rejected that argument, saying "[T]his memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is—it's a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were" and "The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court." [75] But the EEOC did not change its stance, putting it at odds with the DOJ in certain cases. [74]

Title VIII—registration and voting statistics Edit

Required compilation of voter-registration and voting data in geographic areas specified by the Commission on Civil Rights.

Title IX—intervention and removal of cases Edit

Title IX made it easier to move civil rights cases from U.S. state courts to federal court. This was of crucial importance to civil rights activists [ who? ] who contended that they could not get fair trials in state courts. [ citation needed ]

Title X—Community Relations Service Edit

Established the Community Relations Service, tasked with assisting in community disputes involving claims of discrimination.

Title XI—miscellaneous Edit

Title XI gives a defendant accused of certain categories of criminal contempt in a matter arising under title II, III, IV, V, VI, or VII of the Act the right to a jury trial. If convicted, the defendant can be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than six months.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 Edit

Between 1965 and 1972, Title VII lacked any strong enforcement provisions. Instead, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was authorized only to investigate external claims of discrimination. The EEOC could then refer cases to the Justice Department for litigation if reasonable cause was found. The EEOC documented the nature and magnitude of discriminatory employment practices, the first study of this kind done.

In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. [77] The Act amended Title VII and gave EEOC authority to initiate its own enforcement litigation. The EEOC now played a major role in guiding judicial interpretations of civil rights legislation. The commission was also permitted for the first time to define "discrimination," a term excluded from the 1964 Act. [78]

Title II case law Edit

Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964) Edit

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, the Supreme Court upheld the law's application to the private sector, on the grounds that Congress has the power to regulate commerce between the States. The landmark case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States established the law's constitutionality, but did not settle all the legal questions surrounding it.


A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: Introduction

This guide offers a history of various movements by citizens in the United States to gain political and social freedom and equality. It highlights resources available through HUSL Library and HU Libraries, as well as a selection freely accessible Internet resources with a focus on authoritative content from civil rights organizations and government entities.

Civil Rights versus Human Rights

What is the difference between a civil right and a human right? Simply put, human rights are rights one acquires by being alive. Civil rights are rights that one obtains by being a legal member of a certain political state. There are obviously several liberties that overlap between these two categories, but the breakdown of rights between human and civil is roughly as follows:

  • the right to life
  • the right to education
  • protection from torture
  • freedom of expression
  • the right to a free trial

Civil rights within the United States include:

  • protection from discrimination
  • the right to free speech
  • the right to due process
  • the right to equal protection
  • the right against self-incrimination

It is important to note that civil rights will change based on where a person claims citizenship because civil rights are, in essence, an agreement between the citizen and the nation or state that the citizen lives within. From an international perspective, international organizations and courts are not as likely to intervene and take action to enforce a nation's violation of its own civil rights, but are more likely to respond to human rights violations. While human rights should be universal in all countries, civil rights will vary greatly from one nation to the next. No nation may rightfully deprive a person of a human right, but different nations can grant or deny different civil rights. Thus, civil rights struggles tend to occur at local or national levels and not at the international level. At the international stage, we focus on the violation of human rights.

This guide will focus on the civil rights that various groups have fought for within the United States. While some of these rights, like the right to education, certainly overlap with human rights, we treat them as civil rights in most academic conversations. Typically, the reason used to justify a right to equal education or another human right is grounded in a civil right of due process or equal protection.

Social Justice

As Charles Hamilton Houston stated:

A lawyer&rsquos either a social engineer or &hellip a parasite on society &hellip 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.

Howard University School of Law is dedicated to producing &ldquosocial engineers&rdquo and has proven track record of success . The words of Charles Hamilton Houston are alive everyday in the work taking place at The Mecca's law school. L earn more about Social Justice issues here.

Author Credits

Over the summer of 2019, Kristina Alayan in her capacity as HUSL Library Director communicated with her former Georgetown Law Library guide collaborators and with the assistance of Victoria Capatosto, Research and Instruction Librarian at HUSL Library, transferred a copy of their original guide to HUSL Library for independent development. HUSL Library's edition of the guide is accessible through our website, where you&rsquore currently viewing it.

The following law librarians at Georgetown Law Library created the original guide that was the basis for HUSL Library&rsquos version:

  • Kristina Alayan - Head of Reference
  • Heather Casey - International & Foreign Law Reference Librarian
  • Rachel Jorgensen - Reference Librarian
  • Barbara Monroe - Reference Librarian

The Georgetown Law Library's original guide is available here: https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/civilrights.

Victoria Capatosto oversees the development of HUSL Library's edition of the guide with assistance from LIS graduate student interns and law students working at HUSL Library.


Contents

Civil War and Reconstruction

Before the American Civil War, eight serving presidents had owned slaves, almost four million black people remained enslaved in the South, only white men with property could vote, and the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to whites. [14] [15] [16] Following the Civil War, three constitutional amendments were passed, including the 13th Amendment (1865) that ended slavery the 14th Amendment (1869) that gave black people citizenship, adding their total population of four million to the official population of southern states for Congressional apportionment and the 15th Amendment (1870) that gave black males the right to vote (only males could vote in the U.S. at the time). [17] From 1865 to 1877, the United States underwent a turbulent Reconstruction Era during which the federal government tried to establish free labor and the civil rights of freedmen in the South after the end of slavery. Many whites resisted the social changes, leading to the formation of insurgent movements such as the Ku Klux Klan, whose members attacked black and white Republicans in order to maintain white supremacy. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant, the U.S. Army, and U.S. Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, initiated a campaign to repress the KKK under the Enforcement Acts. [18] Some states were reluctant to enforce the federal measures of the act. In addition, by the early 1870s, other white supremacist and insurgent paramilitary groups arose that violently opposed African-American legal equality and suffrage, intimidating and suppressing black voters, and assassinating Republican officeholders. [19] [20] However, if the states failed to implement the acts, the laws allowed the Federal Government to get involved. [20] Many Republican governors were afraid of sending black militia troops to fight the Klan for fear of war. [20]

Disenfranchisement after Reconstruction

After the disputed election of 1876, which resulted in the end of Reconstruction and the withdrawal of federal troops, whites in the South regained political control of the region's state legislatures. They continued to intimidate and violently attack blacks before and during elections to suppress their voting, but the last African Americans were elected to Congress from the South before disenfranchisement of blacks by states throughout the region, as described below.

From 1890 to 1908, southern states passed new constitutions and laws to disenfranchise African Americans and many Poor Whites by creating barriers to voter registration voting rolls were dramatically reduced as blacks and poor whites were forced out of electoral politics. After the landmark Supreme Court case of Smith v. Allwright (1944), which prohibited white primaries, progress was made in increasing black political participation in the Rim South and Acadiana – although almost entirely in urban areas [21] and a few rural localities where most blacks worked outside plantations. [22] The status quo ante of excluding African Americans from the political system lasted in the remainder of the South, especially North Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, until national civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s to provide federal enforcement of constitutional voting rights. For more than sixty years, blacks in the South were essentially excluded from politics, unable to elect anyone to represent their interests in Congress or local government. [20] Since they could not vote, they could not serve on local juries.

During this period, the white-dominated Democratic Party maintained political control of the South. With whites controlling all the seats representing the total population of the South, they had a powerful voting bloc in Congress. The Republican Party—the "party of Lincoln" and the party to which most blacks had belonged—shrank to insignificance except in remote Unionist areas of Appalachia and the Ozarks as black voter registration was suppressed. The Republican lily-white movement also gained strength by excluding blacks. Until 1965, the "Solid South" was a one-party system under the white Democrats. Excepting the previously noted historic Unionist strongholds the Democratic Party nomination was tantamount to election for state and local office. [23] In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, to dine at the White House, making him the first African American to attend an official dinner there. "The invitation was roundly criticized by southern politicians and newspapers." [24] Washington persuaded the president to appoint more blacks to federal posts in the South and to try to boost African-American leadership in state Republican organizations. However, these actions were resisted by both white Democrats and white Republicans as an unwanted federal intrusion into state politics. [24]

During the same time as African Americans were being disenfranchised, white southerners imposed racial segregation by law. Violence against blacks increased, with numerous lynchings through the turn of the century. The system of de jure state-sanctioned racial discrimination and oppression that emerged from the post-Reconstruction South became known as the "Jim Crow" system. The United States Supreme Court made up almost entirely of Northerners, upheld the constitutionality of those state laws that required racial segregation in public facilities in its 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, legitimizing them through the "separate but equal" doctrine. [26] Segregation, which began with slavery, continued with Jim Crow laws, with signs used to show blacks where they could legally walk, talk, drink, rest, or eat. [27] For those places that were racially mixed, non-whites had to wait until all white customers were served first. [27] Elected in 1912, President Woodrow Wilson gave in to demands by Southern members of his cabinet and ordered segregation of workplaces throughout the federal government. [28]

The early 20th century is a period often referred to as the "nadir of American race relations", when the number of lynchings was highest. While tensions and civil rights violations were most intense in the South, social discrimination affected African Americans in other regions as well. [29] At the national level, the Southern bloc controlled important committees in Congress, defeated passage of federal laws against lynching, and exercised considerable power beyond the number of whites in the South.

Characteristics of the post-Reconstruction period:

    . By law, public facilities and government services such as education were divided into separate "white" and "colored" domains. [30] Characteristically, those for colored were underfunded and of inferior quality. . When white Democrats regained power, they passed laws that made voter registration more restrictive, essentially forcing black voters off the voting rolls. The number of African-American voters dropped dramatically, and they were no longer able to elect representatives. From 1890 to 1908, Southern states of the former Confederacy created constitutions with provisions that disfranchised tens of thousands of African Americans, and U.S. states such as Alabama disenfranchised poor whites as well. . Increased economic oppression of blacks through the convict lease system, Latinos, and Asians, denial of economic opportunities, and widespread employment discrimination.
  • Violence. Individual, police, paramilitary, organizational, and mob racial violence against blacks (and Latinos in the Southwest and Asians in the West Coast).

African Americans and other ethnic minorities rejected this regime. They resisted it in numerous ways and sought better opportunities through lawsuits, new organizations, political redress, and labor organizing (see the Civil rights movement (1896–1954)). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. It fought to end race discrimination through litigation, education, and lobbying efforts. Its crowning achievement was its legal victory in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), when the Warren Court ruled that segregation of public schools in the US was unconstitutional and, by implication, overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896. [7] [31] Following the unanimous Supreme Court ruling, many states began to gradually integrate their schools, but some areas of the South resisted by closing public schools altogether. [7] [31]

The integration of Southern public libraries followed demonstrations and protests that used techniques seen in other elements of the larger civil rights movement. [32] This included sit-ins, beatings, and white resistance. [32] For example, in 1963 in the city of Anniston, Alabama, two black ministers were brutally beaten for attempting to integrate the public library. [32] Though there was resistance and violence, the integration of libraries was generally quicker than the integration of other public institutions. [32]

National issues

The situation for blacks outside the South was somewhat better (in most states they could vote and have their children educated, though they still faced discrimination in housing and jobs). In 1900 Reverend Matthew Anderson, speaking at the annual Hampton Negro Conference in Virginia, said that ". the lines along most of the avenues of wage-earning are more rigidly drawn in the North than in the South. There seems to be an apparent effort throughout the North, especially in the cities to debar the colored worker from all the avenues of higher remunerative labor, which makes it more difficult to improve his economic condition even than in the South." [33] From 1910 to 1970, blacks sought better lives by migrating north and west out of the South. A total of nearly seven million blacks left the South in what was known as the Great Migration, most during and after World War II. So many people migrated that the demographics of some previously black-majority states changed to a white majority (in combination with other developments). The rapid influx of blacks altered the demographics of Northern and Western cities happening at a period of expanded European, Hispanic, and Asian immigration, it added to social competition and tensions, with the new migrants and immigrants battling for a place in jobs and housing.

Reflecting social tensions after World War I, as veterans struggled to return to the workforce and labor unions were organizing, the Red Summer of 1919 was marked by hundreds of deaths and higher casualties across the U.S. as a result of white race riots against blacks that took place in more than three dozen cities, such as the Chicago race riot of 1919 and the Omaha race riot of 1919. Urban problems such as crime and disease were blamed on the large influx of Southern blacks to cities in the north and west, based on stereotypes of rural southern African-Americans. Overall, blacks in Northern and Western cities experienced systemic discrimination in a plethora of aspects of life. Within employment, economic opportunities for blacks were routed to the lowest status and restrictive in potential mobility. Within the housing market, stronger discriminatory measures were used in correlation to the influx, resulting in a mix of "targeted violence, restrictive covenants, redlining and racial steering". [34] The Great Migration resulted in many African Americans becoming urbanized, and they began to realign from the Republican to the Democratic Party, especially because of opportunities under the New Deal of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression in the 1930s. [35] Substantially under pressure from African-American supporters who began the March on Washington Movement, President Roosevelt issued the first federal order banning discrimination and created the Fair Employment Practice Committee. After both World Wars, black veterans of the military pressed for full civil rights and often led activist movements. In 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which ended segregation in the military. [36]

Housing segregation became a nationwide problem following the Great Migration of black people out of the South. Racial covenants were employed by many real estate developers to "protect" entire subdivisions, with the primary intent to keep "white" neighborhoods "white". Ninety percent of the housing projects built in the years following World War II were racially restricted by such covenants. [37] Cities known for their widespread use of racial covenants include Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, [38] Los Angeles, Seattle, and St. Louis. [39]

Said premises shall not be rented, leased, or conveyed to, or occupied by, any person other than of the white or Caucasian race.

While many whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics toward black people, many other whites migrated to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, a process known as white flight. [41] From the 1930s to the 1960s, the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB) issued guidelines that specified that a realtor "should never be instrumental in introducing to a neighborhood a character or property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individual whose presence will be clearly detrimental to property values in a neighborhood." The result was the development of all-black ghettos in the North and West, where much housing was older, as well as South. [42]

The first anti-miscegenation law was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 1691, criminalizing interracial marriage. [43] In a speech in Charleston, Illinois in 1858, Abraham Lincoln stated, "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people". [44] By the late 1800s, 38 US states had anti-miscegenation statutes. [43] By 1924, the ban on interracial marriage was still in force in 29 states. [43] While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, in 1957 actor Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his involvement with white actress Kim Novak. [45] Davis briefly married a black dancer in 1958 to protect himself from mob violence. [45] In 1958, officers in Virginia entered the home of Richard and Mildred Loving and dragged them out of bed for living together as an interracial couple, on the basis that "any white person intermarry with a colored person"— or vice versa—each party "shall be guilty of a felony" and face prison terms of five years. [43]

Invigorated by the victory of Brown and frustrated by the lack of immediate practical effect, private citizens increasingly rejected gradualist, legalistic approaches as the primary tool to bring about desegregation. They were faced with "massive resistance" in the South by proponents of racial segregation and voter suppression. In defiance, African-American activists adopted a combined strategy of direct action, nonviolence, nonviolent resistance, and many events described as civil disobedience, giving rise to the civil rights movement of 1954 to 1968.

Protests begin

The strategy of public education, legislative lobbying, and litigation that had typified the civil rights movement during the first half of the 20th century broadened after Brown to a strategy that emphasized "direct action": boycotts, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, marches or walks, and similar tactics that relied on mass mobilization, nonviolent resistance, standing in line, and, at times, civil disobedience. [46]

Churches, local grassroots organizations, fraternal societies, and black-owned businesses mobilized volunteers to participate in broad-based actions. This was a more direct and potentially more rapid means of creating change than the traditional approach of mounting court challenges used by the NAACP and others.

In 1952, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), led by T. R. M. Howard, a black surgeon, entrepreneur, and planter organized a successful boycott of gas stations in Mississippi that refused to provide restrooms for blacks. Through the RCNL, Howard led campaigns to expose brutality by the Mississippi state highway patrol and to encourage blacks to make deposits in the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Nashville which, in turn, gave loans to civil rights activists who were victims of a "credit squeeze" by the White Citizens' Councils. [47]

After Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in March 1955, a bus boycott was considered and rejected. But when Rosa Parks was arrested in December, Jo Ann Gibson Robinson of the Montgomery Women's Political Council put the bus boycott protest in motion. Late that night, she, John Cannon (chairman of the Business Department at Alabama State University) and others mimeographed and distributed thousands of leaflets calling for a boycott. [48] [49] The eventual success of the boycott made its spokesman Martin Luther King Jr., a nationally known figure. It also inspired other bus boycotts, such as the successful Tallahassee, Florida boycott of 1956–57. [50]

In 1957, King and Ralph Abernathy, the leaders of the Montgomery Improvement Association, joined with other church leaders who had led similar boycott efforts, such as C. K. Steele of Tallahassee and T. J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, and other activists such as Fred Shuttlesworth, Ella Baker, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Stanley Levison, to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The SCLC, with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, did not attempt to create a network of chapters as the NAACP did. It offered training and leadership assistance for local efforts to fight segregation. The headquarters organization raised funds, mostly from Northern sources, to support such campaigns. It made nonviolence both its central tenet and its primary method of confronting racism.

In 1959, Septima Clarke, Bernice Robinson, and Esau Jenkins, with the help of Myles Horton's Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, began the first Citizenship Schools in South Carolina's Sea Islands. They taught literacy to enable blacks to pass voting tests. The program was an enormous success and tripled the number of black voters on Johns Island. SCLC took over the program and duplicated its results elsewhere.

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954

In the spring of 1951, black students in Virginia protested their unequal status in the state's segregated educational system. Students at Moton High School protested the overcrowded conditions and failing facility. [51] Some local leaders of the NAACP had tried to persuade the students to back down from their protest against the Jim Crow laws of school segregation. When the students did not budge, the NAACP joined their battle against school segregation. The NAACP proceeded with five cases challenging the school systems these were later combined under what is known today as Brown v. Board of Education. [51] Under the leadership of Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers donated $75,000 to help pay for the NAACP's efforts at the Supreme Court. [52]

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that mandating, or even permitting, public schools to be segregated by race was unconstitutional. [7] Chief Justice Warren wrote in the court majority opinion that [7] [31]

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. [53]

The lawyers from the NAACP had to gather plausible evidence in order to win the case of Brown vs. Board of Education. Their method of addressing the issue of school segregation was to enumerate several arguments. One pertained to having exposure to interracial contact in a school environment. It was argued that interracial contact would, in turn, help prepare children to live with the pressures that society exerts in regards to race and thereby afford them a better chance of living in a democracy. In addition, another argument emphasized how "'education' comprehends the entire process of developing and training the mental, physical and moral powers and capabilities of human beings". [54]

Risa Goluboff wrote that the NAACP's intention was to show the Courts that African American children were the victims of school segregation and their futures were at risk. The Court ruled that both Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had established the "separate but equal" standard in general, and Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education (1899), which had applied that standard to schools, was unconstitutional.

The federal government filed a friend of the court brief in the case urging the justices to consider the effect that segregation had on America's image in the Cold War. Secretary of State Dean Acheson was quoted in the brief stating that "The United States is under constant attack in the foreign press, over the foreign radio, and in such international bodies as the United Nations because of various practices of discrimination in this country." [55] [56]

The following year, in the case known as Brown II, the Court ordered segregation to be phased out over time, "with all deliberate speed". [57] Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) did not overturn Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Plessy v. Ferguson was segregation in transportation modes. Brown v. Board of Education dealt with segregation in education. Brown v. Board of Education did set in motion the future overturning of 'separate but equal'.

On May 18, 1954, Greensboro, North Carolina, became the first city in the South to publicly announce that it would abide by the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling. "It is unthinkable,' remarked School Board Superintendent Benjamin Smith, 'that we will try to [override] the laws of the United States." [58] This positive reception for Brown, together with the appointment of African American David Jones to the school board in 1953, convinced numerous white and black citizens that Greensboro was heading in a progressive direction. Integration in Greensboro occurred rather peacefully compared to the process in Southern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia where "massive resistance" was practiced by top officials and throughout the states. In Virginia, some counties closed their public schools rather than integrate, and many white Christian private schools were founded to accommodate students who used to go to public schools. Even in Greensboro, much local resistance to desegregation continued, and in 1969, the federal government found the city was not in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Transition to a fully integrated school system did not begin until 1971. [58]

Many Northern cities also had de facto segregation policies, which resulted in a vast gulf in educational resources between black and white communities. In Harlem, New York, for example, neither a single new school was built since the turn of the century, nor did a single nursery school exist – even as the Second Great Migration was causing overcrowding. Existing schools tended to be dilapidated and staffed with inexperienced teachers. Brown helped stimulate activism among New York City parents like Mae Mallory who, with the support of the NAACP, initiated a successful lawsuit against the city and state on Brown 's principles. Mallory and thousands of other parents bolstered the pressure of the lawsuit with a school boycott in 1959. During the boycott, some of the first freedom schools of the period were established. The city responded to the campaign by permitting more open transfers to high-quality, historically-white schools. (New York's African-American community, and Northern desegregation activists generally, now found themselves contending with the problem of white flight, however.) [59] [60]

Emmett Till's murder, 1955

Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago, visited his relatives in Money, Mississippi, for the summer. He allegedly had an interaction with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, in a small grocery store that violated the norms of Mississippi culture, and Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam brutally murdered young Emmett Till. They beat and mutilated him before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river. After Emmett's mother, Mamie Till, [61] came to identify the remains of her son, she decided she wanted to "let the people see what I have seen". [62] Till's mother then had his body taken back to Chicago where she had it displayed in an open casket during the funeral services where many thousands of visitors arrived to show their respects. [62] A later publication of an image at the funeral in Jet is credited as a crucial moment in the civil rights era for displaying in vivid detail the violent racism that was being directed at black people in America. [63] [62] In a column for The Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk wrote: "The trial of his killers became a pageant illuminating the tyranny of white supremacy". [2] The state of Mississippi tried two defendants, but they were speedily acquitted by an all-white jury. [64]

"Emmett's murder," historian Tim Tyson writes, "would never have become a watershed historical moment without Mamie finding the strength to make her private grief a public matter." [65] The visceral response to his mother's decision to have an open-casket funeral mobilized the black community throughout the U.S. [2] The murder and resulting trial ended up markedly impacting the views of several young black activists. [65] Joyce Ladner referred to such activists as the "Emmett Till generation." [65] One hundred days after Emmett Till's murder, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. [66] Parks later informed Till's mother that her decision to stay in her seat was guided by the image she still vividly recalled of Till's brutalized remains. [66] The glass topped casket that was used for Till's Chicago funeral was found in a cemetery garage in 2009. Till had been reburied in a different casket after being exhumed in 2005. [67] Till's family decided to donate the original casket to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American Culture and History, where it is now on display. [68] In 2007, Bryant said that she had fabricated the most sensational part of her story in 1955. [63] [69]

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, 1955–1956

On December 1, 1955, nine months after a 15-year-old high school student, Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested, Rosa Parks did the same thing. Parks soon became the symbol of the resulting Montgomery bus boycott and received national publicity. She was later hailed as the "mother of the civil rights movement". [70]

Parks was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP chapter and had recently returned from a meeting at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where nonviolence as a strategy was taught by Myles Horton and others. After Parks' arrest, African Americans gathered and organized the Montgomery bus boycott to demand a bus system in which passengers would be treated equally. [71] The organization was led by Jo Ann Robinson, a member of the Women's Political Council who had been waiting for the opportunity to boycott the bus system. Following Rosa Parks’ arrest, Jo Ann Robinson mimeographed 52,500 leaflets calling for a boycott. They were distributed around the city and helped gather the attention of civil rights leaders. After the city rejected many of its suggested reforms, the NAACP, led by E. D. Nixon, pushed for full desegregation of public buses. With the support of most of Montgomery's 50,000 African Americans, the boycott lasted for 381 days, until the local ordinance segregating African Americans and whites on public buses was repealed. Ninety percent of African Americans in Montgomery partook in the boycotts, which reduced bus revenue significantly, as they comprised the majority of the riders. In November 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling in the case of Browder v. Gayle and ordered Montgomery's buses desegregated, ending the boycott. [71]

Local leaders established the Montgomery Improvement Association to focus their efforts. Martin Luther King Jr. was elected President of this organization. The lengthy protest attracted national attention for him and the city. His eloquent appeals to Christian brotherhood and American idealism created a positive impression on people both inside and outside the South. [49]

Little Rock Crisis, 1957

A crisis erupted in Little Rock, Arkansas, when Governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus called out the National Guard on September 4 to prevent entry to the nine African-American students who had sued for the right to attend an integrated school, Little Rock Central High School. [72] Under the guidance of Daisy Bates, the nine students had been chosen to attend Central High because of their excellent grades.

On the first day of school, 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford was the only one of the nine students who showed up because she did not receive the phone call about the danger of going to school. A photo was taken of Eckford being harassed by white protesters outside the school, and the police had to take her away in a patrol car for her protection. [73] Afterwards, the nine students had to carpool to school and be escorted by military personnel in jeeps.

Faubus was not a proclaimed segregationist. The Arkansas Democratic Party, which then controlled politics in the state, put significant pressure on Faubus after he had indicated he would investigate bringing Arkansas into compliance with the Brown decision. Faubus then took his stand against integration and against the Federal court ruling. Faubus' resistance received the attention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was determined to enforce the orders of the Federal courts. Critics had charged he was lukewarm, at best, on the goal of desegregation of public schools. But, Eisenhower federalized the National Guard in Arkansas and ordered them to return to their barracks. Eisenhower deployed elements of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to protect the students.

The students attended high school under harsh conditions. They had to pass through a gauntlet of spitting, jeering whites to arrive at school on their first day, and to put up with harassment from other students for the rest of the year. Although federal troops escorted the students between classes, the students were teased and even attacked by white students when the soldiers were not around. One of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown, was suspended for spilling a bowl of chili on the head of a white student who was harassing her in the school lunch line. Later, she was expelled for verbally abusing a white female student. [74]

Only Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine graduated from Central High School. After the 1957–58 school year was over, Little Rock closed its public school system completely rather than continue to integrate. Other school systems across the South followed suit.

The method of nonviolence and nonviolence training

During the time period considered to be the "African-American civil rights" era, the predominant use of protest was nonviolent, or peaceful. [75] Often referred to as pacifism, the method of nonviolence is considered to be an attempt to impact society positively. Although acts of racial discrimination have occurred historically throughout the United States, perhaps the most violent regions have been in the former Confederate states. During the 1950s and 1960s, the nonviolent protesting of the civil rights movement caused definite tension, which gained national attention.

In order to prepare for protests physically and psychologically, demonstrators received training in nonviolence. According to former civil rights activist Bruce Hartford, there are two main branches of nonviolence training. There is the philosophical method, which involves understanding the method of nonviolence and why it is considered useful, and there is the tactical method, which ultimately teaches demonstrators "how to be a protestor—how to sit-in, how to picket, how to defend yourself against attack, giving training on how to remain cool when people are screaming racist insults into your face and pouring stuff on you and hitting you" (Civil Rights Movement Archive). The philosophical method of nonviolence, in the American civil rights movement, was largely inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's "non-cooperation" policies during his involvement in the Indian independence movement which were intended to gain attention so that the public would either "intervene in advance," or "provide public pressure in support of the action to be taken" (Erikson, 415). As Hartford explains it, philosophical nonviolence training aims to "shape the individual person's attitude and mental response to crises and violence" (Civil Rights Movement Archive). Hartford and activists like him, who trained in tactical nonviolence, considered it necessary in order to ensure physical safety, instill discipline, teach demonstrators how to demonstrate, and form mutual confidence among demonstrators (Civil Rights Movement Archive). [75] [76]

For many, the concept of nonviolent protest was a way of life, a culture. However, not everyone agreed with this notion. James Forman, former SNCC (and later Black Panther) member, and nonviolence trainer was among those who did not. In his autobiography, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, Forman revealed his perspective on the method of nonviolence as "strictly a tactic, not a way of life without limitations." Similarly, Bob Moses, who was also an active member of SNCC, felt that the method of nonviolence was practical. When interviewed by author Robert Penn Warren, Moses said "There's no question that he (Martin Luther King Jr.) had a great deal of influence with the masses. But I don't think it's in the direction of love. It's in a practical direction . . ." (Who Speaks for the Negro? Warren). [77] [78]

According to a 2020 study in the American Political Science Review, nonviolent civil rights protests boosted vote shares for the Democratic party in presidential elections in nearby counties, but violent protests substantially boosted white support for Republicans in counties near to the violent protests. [79]

Robert F. Williams and the debate on nonviolence, 1959–1964

The Jim Crow system employed "terror as a means of social control," [80] with the most organized manifestations being the Ku Klux Klan and their collaborators in local police departments. This violence played a key role in blocking the progress of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s. Some black organizations in the South began practicing armed self-defense. The first to do so openly was the Monroe, North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP led by Robert F. Williams. Williams had rebuilt the chapter after its membership was terrorized out of public life by the Klan. He did so by encouraging a new, more working-class membership to arm itself thoroughly and defend against attack. [81] When Klan nightriders attacked the home of NAACP member Albert Perry in October 1957, Williams' militia exchanged gunfire with the stunned Klansmen, who quickly retreated. The following day, the city council held an emergency session and passed an ordinance banning KKK motorcades. [82] One year later, Lumbee Indians in North Carolina would have a similarly successful armed stand-off with the Klan (known as the Battle of Hayes Pond) which resulted in KKK leader James W. "Catfish" Cole being convicted of incitement to riot. [83]

After the acquittal of several white men charged with sexually assaulting black women in Monroe, Williams announced to United Press International reporters that he would "meet violence with violence" as a policy. Williams' declaration was quoted on the front page of The New York Times, and The Carolina Times considered it "the biggest civil rights story of 1959". [84] NAACP National chairman Roy Wilkins immediately suspended Williams from his position, but the Monroe organizer won support from numerous NAACP chapters across the country. Ultimately, Wilkins resorted to bribing influential organizer Daisy Bates to campaign against Williams at the NAACP national convention and the suspension was upheld. The convention nonetheless passed a resolution which stated: "We do not deny, but reaffirm the right of individual and collective self-defense against unlawful assaults." [85] Martin Luther King Jr. argued for Williams' removal, [86] but Ella Baker [87] and WEB Dubois [13] both publicly praised the Monroe leader's position.

Williams—along with his wife, Mabel Williams—continued to play a leadership role in the Monroe movement, and to some degree, in the national movement. The Williamses published The Crusader, a nationally circulated newsletter, beginning in 1960, and the influential book Negroes With Guns in 1962. Williams did not call for full militarization in this period, but "flexibility in the freedom struggle." [88] Williams was well-versed in legal tactics and publicity, which he had used successfully in the internationally known "Kissing Case" of 1958, as well as nonviolent methods, which he used at lunch counter sit-ins in Monroe—all with armed self-defense as a complementary tactic.

Williams led the Monroe movement in another armed stand-off with white supremacists during an August 1961 Freedom Ride he had been invited to participate in the campaign by Ella Baker and James Forman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The incident (along with his campaigns for peace with Cuba) resulted in him being targeted by the FBI and prosecuted for kidnapping he was cleared of all charges in 1976. [89] Meanwhile, armed self-defense continued discreetly in the Southern movement with such figures as SNCC's Amzie Moore, [89] Hartman Turnbow, [90] and Fannie Lou Hamer [91] all willing to use arms to defend their lives from nightrides. Taking refuge from the FBI in Cuba, the Willamses broadcast the radio show Radio Free Dixie throughout the eastern United States via Radio Progresso beginning in 1962. In this period, Williams advocated guerilla warfare against racist institutions and saw the large ghetto riots of the era as a manifestation of his strategy.

University of North Carolina historian Walter Rucker has written that "the emergence of Robert F Williams contributed to the marked decline in anti-black racial violence in the U.S. After centuries of anti-black violence, African Americans across the country began to defend their communities aggressively—employing overt force when necessary. This in turn evoked in whites real fear of black vengeance. " This opened up space for African Americans to use nonviolent demonstrations with less fear of deadly reprisal. [92] Of the many civil rights activists who share this view, the most prominent was Rosa Parks. Parks gave the eulogy at Williams' funeral in 1996, praising him for "his courage and for his commitment to freedom," and concluding that "The sacrifices he made, and what he did, should go down in history and never be forgotten." [93]

Sit-ins, 1958–1960

In July 1958, the NAACP Youth Council sponsored sit-ins at the lunch counter of a Dockum Drug Store in downtown Wichita, Kansas. After three weeks, the movement successfully got the store to change its policy of segregated seating, and soon afterward all Dockum stores in Kansas were desegregated. This movement was quickly followed in the same year by a student sit-in at a Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City led by Clara Luper, which also was successful. [94]

Mostly black students from area colleges led a sit-in at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. [95] On February 1, 1960, four students, Ezell A. Blair Jr., David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College, an all-black college, sat down at the segregated lunch counter to protest Woolworth's policy of excluding African Americans from being served food there. [96] The four students purchased small items in other parts of the store and kept their receipts, then sat down at the lunch counter and asked to be served. After being denied service, they produced their receipts and asked why their money was good everywhere else at the store, but not at the lunch counter. [97]

The protesters had been encouraged to dress professionally, to sit quietly, and to occupy every other stool so that potential white sympathizers could join in. The Greensboro sit-in was quickly followed by other sit-ins in Richmond, Virginia [98] [99] Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. [100] [101] The most immediately effective of these was in Nashville, where hundreds of well organized and highly disciplined college students conducted sit-ins in coordination with a boycott campaign. [102] [103] As students across the south began to "sit-in" at the lunch counters of local stores, police and other officials sometimes used brutal force to physically escort the demonstrators from the lunch facilities.

The "sit-in" technique was not new—as far back as 1939, African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker organized a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, Virginia, library. [104] In 1960 the technique succeeded in bringing national attention to the movement. [105] On March 9, 1960, an Atlanta University Center group of students released An Appeal for Human Rights as a full page advertisement in newspapers, including the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal, and Atlanta Daily World. [106] Known as the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR), the group initiated the Atlanta Student Movement and began to lead sit-ins starting on March 15, 1960. [101] [107] By the end of 1960, the process of sit-ins had spread to every southern and border state, and even to facilities in Nevada, Illinois, and Ohio that discriminated against blacks.

Demonstrators focused not only on lunch counters but also on parks, beaches, libraries, theaters, museums, and other public facilities. In April 1960 activists who had led these sit-ins were invited by SCLC activist Ella Baker to hold a conference at Shaw University, a historically black university in Raleigh, North Carolina. This conference led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). [108] SNCC took these tactics of nonviolent confrontation further, and organized the freedom rides. As the constitution protected interstate commerce, they decided to challenge segregation on interstate buses and in public bus facilities by putting interracial teams on them, to travel from the North through the segregated South. [109]

Freedom Rides, 1961

Freedom Rides were journeys by civil rights activists on interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregation was unconstitutional for passengers engaged in interstate travel. Organized by CORE, the first Freedom Ride of the 1960s left Washington D.C. on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17. [110]

During the first and subsequent Freedom Rides, activists traveled through the Deep South to integrate seating patterns on buses and desegregate bus terminals, including restrooms and water fountains. That proved to be a dangerous mission. In Anniston, Alabama, one bus was firebombed, forcing its passengers to flee for their lives. [111]

In Birmingham, Alabama, an FBI informant reported that Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor gave Ku Klux Klan members fifteen minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before having police "protect" them. The riders were severely beaten "until it looked like a bulldog had got a hold of them." James Peck, a white activist, was beaten so badly that he required fifty stitches to his head. [111]

In a similar occurrence in Montgomery, Alabama, the Freedom Riders followed in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and rode an integrated Greyhound bus from Birmingham. Although they were protesting interstate bus segregation in peace, they were met with violence in Montgomery as a large, white mob attacked them for their activism. They caused an enormous, 2-hour long riot which resulted in 22 injuries, five of whom were hospitalized. [112]

Mob violence in Anniston and Birmingham temporarily halted the rides. SNCC activists from Nashville brought in new riders to continue the journey from Birmingham to New Orleans. In Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station, a mob charged another busload of riders, knocking John Lewis [113] unconscious with a crate and smashing Life photographer Don Urbrock in the face with his own camera. A dozen men surrounded James Zwerg, [114] a white student from Fisk University, and beat him in the face with a suitcase, knocking out his teeth. [111]

On May 24, 1961, the freedom riders continued their rides into Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested for "breaching the peace" by using "white only" facilities. New Freedom Rides were organized by many different organizations and continued to flow into the South. As riders arrived in Jackson, they were arrested. By the end of summer, more than 300 had been jailed in Mississippi. [110]

.. When the weary Riders arrive in Jackson and attempt to use "white only" restrooms and lunch counters they are immediately arrested for Breach of Peace and Refusal to Obey an Officer. Says Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett in defense of segregation: "The Negro is different because God made him different to punish him." From lockup, the Riders announce "Jail No Bail"—they will not pay fines for unconstitutional arrests and illegal convictions—and by staying in jail they keep the issue alive. Each prisoner will remain in jail for 39 days, the maximum time they can serve without loosing [sic] their right to appeal the unconstitutionality of their arrests, trials, and convictions. After 39 days, they file an appeal and post bond. [115]

The jailed freedom riders were treated harshly, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten. In Jackson, some male prisoners were forced to do hard labor in 100 °F (38 °C) heat. Others were transferred to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where they were treated to harsh conditions. Sometimes the men were suspended by "wrist breakers" from the walls. Typically, the windows of their cells were shut tight on hot days, making it hard for them to breathe.

Public sympathy and support for the freedom riders led John F. Kennedy's administration to order the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to issue a new desegregation order. When the new ICC rule took effect on November 1, 1961, passengers were permitted to sit wherever they chose on the bus "white" and "colored" signs came down in the terminals separate drinking fountains, toilets, and waiting rooms were consolidated and lunch counters began serving people regardless of skin color.

The student movement involved such celebrated figures as John Lewis, a single-minded activist James Lawson, [116] the revered "guru" of nonviolent theory and tactics Diane Nash, [117] an articulate and intrepid public champion of justice Bob Moses, pioneer of voting registration in Mississippi and James Bevel, a fiery preacher and charismatic organizer, strategist, and facilitator. Other prominent student activists included Dion Diamond, [118] Charles McDew, Bernard Lafayette, [119] Charles Jones, Lonnie King, Julian Bond, [120] Hosea Williams, and Stokely Carmichael.

Voter registration organizing

After the Freedom Rides, local black leaders in Mississippi such as Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, and others asked SNCC to help register black voters and to build community organizations that could win a share of political power in the state. Since Mississippi ratified its new constitution in 1890 with provisions such as poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy tests, it made registration more complicated and stripped blacks from voter rolls and voting. Also, violence at the time of elections had earlier suppressed black voting.

By the mid-20th century, preventing blacks from voting had become an essential part of the culture of white supremacy. In June and July 1959, members of the black community in Fayette County, TN formed the Fayette County Civic and Welfare League to spur voting. At the time, there were 16,927 blacks in the county, yet only 17 of them had voted in the previous seven years. Within a year, some 1,400 blacks had registered, and the white community responded with harsh economic reprisals. Using registration rolls, the White Citizens Council circulated a blacklist of all registered black voters, allowing banks, local stores, and gas stations to conspire to deny registered black voters essential services. What's more, sharecropping blacks who registered to vote were getting evicted from their homes. All in all, the number of evictions came to 257 families, many of whom were forced to live in a makeshift Tent City for well over a year. Finally, in December 1960, the Justice Department invoked its powers authorized by the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to file a suit against seventy parties accused of violating the civil rights of black Fayette County citizens. [121] In the following year the first voter registration project in McComb and the surrounding counties in the Southwest corner of the state. Their efforts were met with violent repression from state and local lawmen, the White Citizens' Council, and the Ku Klux Klan. Activists were beaten, there were hundreds of arrests of local citizens, and the voting activist Herbert Lee was murdered. [122]

White opposition to black voter registration was so intense in Mississippi that Freedom Movement activists concluded that all of the state's civil rights organizations had to unite in a coordinated effort to have any chance of success. In February 1962, representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP formed the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). At a subsequent meeting in August, SCLC became part of COFO. [123]

In the Spring of 1962, with funds from the Voter Education Project, SNCC/COFO began voter registration organizing in the Mississippi Delta area around Greenwood, and the areas surrounding Hattiesburg, Laurel, and Holly Springs. As in McComb, their efforts were met with fierce opposition—arrests, beatings, shootings, arson, and murder. Registrars used the literacy test to keep blacks off the voting roles by creating standards that even highly educated people could not meet. In addition, employers fired blacks who tried to register, and landlords evicted them from their rental homes. [124] Despite these actions, over the following years, the black voter registration campaign spread across the state.

Similar voter registration campaigns—with similar responses—were begun by SNCC, CORE, and SCLC in Louisiana, Alabama, southwest Georgia, and South Carolina. By 1963, voter registration campaigns in the South were as integral to the Freedom Movement as desegregation efforts. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [11] protecting and facilitating voter registration despite state barriers became the main effort of the movement. It resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had provisions to enforce the constitutional right to vote for all citizens.

Integration of Mississippi universities, 1956–1965

Beginning in 1956, Clyde Kennard, a black Korean War-veteran, wanted to enroll at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) at Hattiesburg under the G.I. Bill. William David McCain, the college president, used the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, in order to prevent his enrollment by appealing to local black leaders and the segregationist state political establishment. [125]

The state-funded organization tried to counter the civil rights movement by positively portraying segregationist policies. More significantly, it collected data on activists, harassed them legally, and used economic boycotts against them by threatening their jobs (or causing them to lose their jobs) to try to suppress their work.

Kennard was twice arrested on trumped-up charges, and eventually convicted and sentenced to seven years in the state prison. [126] After three years at hard labor, Kennard was paroled by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. Journalists had investigated his case and publicized the state's mistreatment of his colon cancer. [126]

McCain's role in Kennard's arrests and convictions is unknown. [127] [128] [129] [130] While trying to prevent Kennard's enrollment, McCain made a speech in Chicago, with his travel sponsored by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. He described the blacks' seeking to desegregate Southern schools as "imports" from the North. (Kennard was a native and resident of Hattiesburg.) McCain said:

We insist that educationally and socially, we maintain a segregated society. In all fairness, I admit that we are not encouraging Negro voting. The Negroes prefer that control of the government remain in the white man's hands. [127] [129] [130]

Note: Mississippi had passed a new constitution in 1890 that effectively disfranchised most blacks by changing electoral and voter registration requirements although it deprived them of constitutional rights authorized under post-Civil War amendments, it survived U.S. Supreme Court challenges at the time. It was not until after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that most blacks in Mississippi and other southern states gained federal protection to enforce the constitutional right of citizens to vote.

In September 1962, James Meredith won a lawsuit to secure admission to the previously segregated University of Mississippi. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, on September 25, and again on September 26. He was blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett, who said, "[N]o school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your Governor." The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson Jr. in contempt, ordering them arrested and fined more than $10,000 for each day they refused to allow Meredith to enroll.

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent in a force of U.S. Marshals and deputized U.S. Border Patrol agents and Federal Bureau of Prisons officers. On September 30, 1962, Meredith entered the campus under their escort. Students and other whites began rioting that evening, throwing rocks and firing on the federal agents guarding Meredith at Lyceum Hall. Rioters ended up killing two civilians, including a French journalist 28 federal agents suffered gunshot wounds, and 160 others were injured. President John F. Kennedy sent U.S. Army and federalized Mississippi National Guard forces to the campus to quell the riot. Meredith began classes the day after the troops arrived. [131]

Kennard and other activists continued to work on public university desegregation. In 1965 Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong became the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. By that time, McCain helped ensure they had a peaceful entry. [132] In 2006, Judge Robert Helfrich ruled that Kennard was factually innocent of all charges for which he had been convicted in the 1950s. [126]

Albany Movement, 1961–62

The SCLC, which had been criticized by some student activists for its failure to participate more fully in the freedom rides, committed much of its prestige and resources to a desegregation campaign in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. King, who had been criticized personally by some SNCC activists for his distance from the dangers that local organizers faced—and given the derisive nickname "De Lawd" as a result—intervened personally to assist the campaign led by both SNCC organizers and local leaders.

The campaign was a failure because of the canny tactics of Laurie Pritchett, the local police chief, and divisions within the black community. The goals may not have been specific enough. Pritchett contained the marchers without violent attacks on demonstrators that inflamed national opinion. He also arranged for arrested demonstrators to be taken to jails in surrounding communities, allowing plenty of room to remain in his jail. Pritchett also foresaw King's presence as a danger and forced his release to avoid King's rallying the black community. King left in 1962 without having achieved any dramatic victories. The local movement, however, continued the struggle, and it obtained significant gains in the next few years. [133]

Birmingham campaign, 1963

The Albany movement was shown to be an important education for the SCLC, however, when it undertook the Birmingham campaign in 1963. Executive Director Wyatt Tee Walker carefully planned the early strategy and tactics for the campaign. It focused on one goal—the desegregation of Birmingham's downtown merchants, rather than total desegregation, as in Albany.

The movement's efforts were helped by the brutal response of local authorities, in particular Eugene "Bull" Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety. He had long held much political power but had lost a recent election for mayor to a less rabidly segregationist candidate. Refusing to accept the new mayor's authority, Connor intended to stay in office.

The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins, kneel-ins at local churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a drive to register voters. The city, however, obtained an injunction barring all such protests. Convinced that the order was unconstitutional, the campaign defied it and prepared for mass arrests of its supporters. King elected to be among those arrested on April 12, 1963. [134]

While in jail, King wrote his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" [135] on the margins of a newspaper, since he had not been allowed any writing paper while held in solitary confinement. [136] Supporters appealed to the Kennedy administration, which intervened to obtain King's release. Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, arranged for $160,000 to bail out King and his fellow protestors. [137] King was allowed to call his wife, who was recuperating at home after the birth of their fourth child and was released early on April 19.

The campaign, however, faltered as it ran out of demonstrators willing to risk arrest. James Bevel, SCLC's Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education, then came up with a bold and controversial alternative: to train high school students to take part in the demonstrations. As a result, in what would be called the Children's Crusade, more than one thousand students skipped school on May 2 to meet at the 16th Street Baptist Church to join the demonstrations. More than six hundred marched out of the church fifty at a time in an attempt to walk to City Hall to speak to Birmingham's mayor about segregation. They were arrested and put into jail. In this first encounter, the police acted with restraint. On the next day, however, another one thousand students gathered at the church. When Bevel started them marching fifty at a time, Bull Connor finally unleashed police dogs on them and then turned the city's fire hoses water streams on the children. National television networks broadcast the scenes of the dogs attacking demonstrators and the water from the fire hoses knocking down the schoolchildren. [138]

Widespread public outrage led the Kennedy administration to intervene more forcefully in negotiations between the white business community and the SCLC. On May 10, the parties announced an agreement to desegregate the lunch counters and other public accommodations downtown, to create a committee to eliminate discriminatory hiring practices, to arrange for the release of jailed protesters, and to establish regular means of communication between black and white leaders.

Not everyone in the black community approved of the agreement—Fred Shuttlesworth was particularly critical, since he was skeptical about the good faith of Birmingham's power structure from his experience in dealing with them. Parts of the white community reacted violently. They bombed the Gaston Motel, which housed the SCLC's unofficial headquarters, and the home of King's brother, the Reverend A. D. King. In response, thousands of blacks rioted, burning numerous buildings and one of them stabbed and wounded a police officer. [139]


Civil Rights Laws - History

What does "civil rights" mean?

Civil rights are basic rights that every citizen has under the laws of the government. In the United States the civil rights of each individual citizen are protected by the Constitution. Civil rights for every person means that regardless of gender, skin color, religion, nationality, age, disability, or religion, a person should not be discriminated against. Civil rights include the right to free speech, privacy, religion, assembly, a fair trial, and freedom of thought.

The term "civil rights" comes from the Latin term "ius civis", which means "rights of a citizen." Anyone who is considered a citizen of a country should be treated equally under the law.

Civil Rights Movements

Throughout history there have been different civil rights movements. Each movement fought for the rights of a given section of the population that was being discriminated against. For example, the women's suffrage movement fought for the right for women to vote. You can learn more about some of these movements by clicking the links below.

During each civil rights movement there have been men and women who have led the fight for their own rights as well as those of others. In many cases these leaders have put their lives in danger by standing up for what they believe to be right. Some of these leaders are listed below:

Events and Other Information

Below you can find other information on the history of civil rights including events, timelines, and a glossary of terms.

Maintaining and protecting civil rights can be one of the most important functions of the government. Civil rights protect every one of us, not just some of us. They insure that each citizen is protected from discrimination under the law. Civil rights laws in the United States make sure that all citizens can enjoy "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" that are promised in the Declaration of Independence.


When the United States abolished slavery in 1865, it created the potential for a new economic reality for millions of formerly enslaved Africans and their former enslavers. For some (especially the elderly), the situation did not change at all—the newly freed citizens continued to work for those who had been their enslavers during the enslavement era. Most of those who were released from enslavement found themselves without security, resources, connections, job prospects, and (sometimes) basic civil rights. But others adapted immediately to their newfound freedom—and thrived.

However, some White people, upset by the abolition of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy, created new posses and organizations—such as the Ku Klux Klan and the White League—to maintain White peoples' privileged social status and to violently punish African Americans who did not fully submit to the old social order.

During the Reconstruction period after the war, several Southern states immediately took measures to see to it that African Americans were still subject to their former enslavers. Their controllers could still have them jailed for disobedience, arrested if they tried to free themselves, and so forth. Newly released enslaved people also faced other drastic civil rights violations. Laws creating segregation and otherwise limiting the rights of African Americans soon became known as "Jim Crow laws."


A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

What is the difference between a civil right and a human right? Simply put, human rights are rights one acquires by being alive. Civil rights are rights that one obtains by being a legal member of a certain political state. There are obviously several liberties that overlap between these two categories, but the breakdown of rights between human and civil is roughly as follows:

  • the right to life
  • the right to education
  • protection from torture
  • freedom of expression
  • the right to a free trial

Civil rights within the United States include:

  • protection from discrimination
  • the right to free speech
  • the right to due process
  • the right to equal protection
  • the right against self-incrimination

It is important to note that civil rights will change based on where a person claims citizenship because civil rights are, in essence, an agreement between the citizen and the nation or state that the citizen lives within. From an international perspective, international organizations and courts are not as likely to intervene and take action to enforce a nation's violation of its own civil rights, but are more likely to respond to human rights violations. While human rights should be universal in all countries, civil rights will vary greatly from one nation to the next. No nation may rightfully deprive a person of a human right, but different nations can grant or deny different civil rights. Thus, civil rights struggles tend to occur at local or national levels and not at the international level. At the international stage, we focus on the violation of human rights.

This guide will focus on the civil rights that various groups have fought for within the United States. While some of these rights, like the right to education, certainly overlap with human rights, we treat them as civil rights in most academic conversations. Typically, the reason used to justify a right to equal education or another human right is grounded in a civil right of due process or equal protection.


III. Demographics of the Older American Workforce

A. Significant Growth in the Older Workforce

The workforce of 1967 looked very different than it does today. Men worked most of their careers for one company or in one profession and retired at early ages with pensions.[83] Just over one-third of workers were women.[84] Average life expectancy was 67 for men and 74 for women.[85] Many jobs were physically demanding. Members of the leading edge of the Baby Boom, those born between 1946 and 1964,[86]were just entering the work force in 1967.

Today's US labor force has doubled in size,[87] and is older, more diverse, more educated, and more female than it was 50 years ago.[88]

Age of Civilian US Labor Force (Chart 1) :

These trends are expected to continue for decades.[89] One of the most notable changes in the American workforce over the past 50 years is that it has aged significantly with the aging of the Baby Boom generation (79 million people) over that time.[90]

The most dramatic changes in the age of the labor force occurred in the last 25 years, as the share of workers age 55 and older in the workforce doubled.[91] In recent years, workers age 65 and older are staying in or re-entering the workforce in greater numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the oldest segments of the workforce -- those ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older -- are expected to increase the fastest through 2024.[92] This oldest cohort of workers of age 65+ workers is projected to grow by 75 percent by 2050, while the group of workers age 25 to 54 is only expected to grow by 2 percent over this same period.[93]

Increased labor force participation by older women is a significant factor in this growth of the older workforce. Women age 55 and older are projected to make up over 25 percent of the women's labor force by 2024, which is almost double their share from 2000. BLS also forecasts that twice as many women over 55 will be in the labor force as women ages 16-24 by 2024. BLS also estimates that women over 65 will make up roughly the same percentage of the female workforce as older men do of the male workforce.[94]

People are working longer today than their parents and grandparents did for a variety of reasons.[95] This generation of older workers is generally healthier and has longer life expectancy than previous generations.[96] In addition, eligibility for full Social Security benefits starts at later ages[97] and the demise of traditional pension benefits provided by employers has shifted greater responsibility to individuals for their retirement income.[98] Now, less than half of the private sector workforce age 25 to 64 have an employer-sponsored plan of any type.[99]

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 [100](also known as the Great Dislocation[101]) forced many older workers to revise their retirement plans and to work longer to recoup drained retirement accounts and lost savings. It left many older workers less confident that they would have sufficient income for a comfortable retirement.[102] As a result, the Great Recession flipped retirement plans and expectations for older workers. [103] Prior to 2009, most Americans planned to retire before age 65.[104] Since then, most say they will retire after age 65.[105]

Unfortunately, retirement expectations frequently do not pan out. For example, one study reports that while 40 percent of workers planned to work until age 70 or later, only 4 percent actually do.[106] Unexpected events such as ill health, caregiving responsibilities, getting laid off, and age discrimination can thwart the best-laid plans.

In addition, the concept of "retirement" has changed markedly with the Baby Boom generation. Retirement traditionally meant the end of paid employment. Today, retirement can also mean continued employment in another role, job or career.[107] Many retirees also must work,[108] even if those opportunities pay less than their previous jobs.[109] Many others work in "retirement" for personal fulfillment as well as financial security.[110]

B. Increasing Diversity of the Older Worker Population

Both the age and diversity of the US workforce has increased considerably over the past decades and will continue to increase in the coming decade.[111] Since 2000,the participation rate of both women and men age 55 and older in each of the four-major race[112] and ethnicity groups increased.[113] As indicated in Charts 2 and 3, the percentage of older workers who are Hispanic significantly increased over the past five decades. The proportion of Hispanics age 55 to 64 in the workforce jumped from 2 percent in 1971 to 11 percent in 2017. Hispanics workers also continued working past age 65 at increasing rates, from 1 percent in 1971 to 8 percent in 2017. The percentage of the labor force age 55 and older consisting of racial and ethnic minorities has grown substantially and is expected to continue to do so into the next decade.[114]

Change in Racial/Ethnic Composition of Labor Force Participants


Watch the video: Η Ιστορία των Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων (January 2022).