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Civil Rights

Civil Rights. Introduction and Historical Context. What Are “Civil Rights”?. Generally, notion of equal treatment By government: Civil Rights Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

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Civil Rights

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  1. Civil Rights Introduction and Historical Context

  2. What Are “Civil Rights”? • Generally, notion of equal treatment • By government: Civil Rights Amendments to the U.S. Constitution • By corporations and private individuals: civil rights statutes (such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act)

  3. Slavery and Abolition • Slave labor formed foundation of Southern agricultural economy • “Mudsill” defense of slavery • Abolition movement • Quakers • Women’s rights advocates

  4. Aftermath of Emancipation • 13th Amendment – Outlawed Slavery • Black Codes • Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 14th Amendment • Guaranteed citizenship and equal protection to freed slaves • Southern states not readmitted to union until they ratify the 14th Amendment (finally ratified in 1868)

  5. Aftermath of Emancipation • 1867 – Radical Reconstruction: Political equality in South guaranteed by presence of federal troops • 15th Amendment – 1870 – Right to vote

  6. Bitterness Grows • President Andrew Johnson • His reconstruction plan – original – required • Readmission with ratification of 13th amendment • Oath of future loyalty – allows white southerners to vote • Freedman’s Bureau • Race riots in Memphis and New Orleans • Johnson blames the Radical Republicans

  7. The Jim Crow South • As states ratify 14th Amendment, they regain autonomy – take opportunity to create “Redeemer Governments” (all-white) • Federal troops withdrawn in 1877 • Social, political, and economic oppression • Literacy tests, poll taxes, white primaries, and “grandfather” clauses • Anti-miscegenation laws and restrictive covenants • “White only” schools

  8. Where’s the Supreme Court? • Striking down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 • Because Act attempted to regulate private behavior, not just public discrimination • Plessy v. Ferguson and “separate but equal” facilities • Court actually held that it would be wrong to have “mixed” train cars because then whites would be forced to co-mingle with blacks

  9. What Changed? • NAACP founded in 1909 • Influx of blacks to northern metropolitan areas and their use by political machines • Tide of public opinion shifted with revelation of Nazi atrocities • Integration of military and Truman’s leadership

  10. Brown v. Board of Education • 1954, U.S. Supreme Court struck down “separate but equal” doctrine as applied to elementary schools • Unanimous opinion, but left matter of fixing the problem to the lower courts • Signaled that Court would really use “strict scrutiny” to weigh discriminatory laws • Compelling government interest • Narrowly tailored means

  11. An Aside on Equal Protection

  12. Congressional Action • Civil Rights Act of 1964 • Employment discrimination • “public accommodations” • Gave DoJ power to litigate re: segregated schools • Voting Rights Act of 1965 • Outlawed racial gerrymandering and created mechanisms for monitoring • Fair Housing Act

  13. Why Our Schools Are Still Segregated • Problem of “de facto” segregation • Busing only to remedy past de jure segregation • White flight • Limits on ability of government to regulate private discrimination

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