I recently had reason to give a mini-lecture on civil rights history at someone’s weblog. I started at the beginning because the participants were not students of any kind of history. I believe that discussion was a waste of time. However, I do wish to share some of the material with folks who might appreciate it.
~ The Civil War ended in 1865. Slaves in all parts of the U.S. were freedmen at that point. The Thirteenth Amendment made the freedmen citizens of the U.S.
~ Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) affirmed segegrgation of blacks* in American life under state laws. No whites, native or immigrant, have ever been subjected to racial segregation. During World War II, black soldiers in the South were segregated. Their German prisoners of war were not.
~ Brown v. Board of Education (1954) made segregated schools unconstitutional. But, years passed before meaningful enforcement occurred. Desegregation failed in much of the U.S. due to white resistance.
~”Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation because of race, color, religion, or national origin. Places of public accommodation are hotels, motels, restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, and concert halls.
. . .Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in public facilities because of race, color, religion, or national origin. Public facilities are facilities owned, operated or managed by state or local governments, like courthouses or jails.” (Department of Justice web site.)
~ Black people were largely deprived of participating in the electoral franchise until after the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Their ability to influence how badly they were being treated was extremely limited. False imprisonment, being driven out of town and even death were the penalties to be paid for challenging white power. So, nearly a hundred years passed between the end of slavery and achieving and maintaining any meaningful political rights.
~ Title VII passed in 1964, but was immediately challenged. Actual enforcement took until the 1970s. Until then, blacks discriminated against in employment had no legal recourse.
*I am using the word ‘blacks,’ but all people of color in the U.S. were subjected to segregation and discrimination.
I have found it useful to have facts like these on hand during conversations about civil rights. Often people who oppose equal rights for all Americans have little or no understanding of the history that led to practices such as affirmative action. I believe you will find having such information available useful, too.
What’s the art?
A detail from the Confederate Constitution. It protected slavery in perpetuity.
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