-1Ch.13 - Civil Rights
Americans struggle over the difference between
equality of opportunity
equality of outcome
While nearly all Americans agree on equality of opportunity, not everyone agrees that individual outcomes
should be equal or that society should limit certain individual freedoms in order to ensure that others are
The adoption of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Amendments following the Civil War was
designed to provide black Americans with the civil and political rights that had been denied to them by
slavery. The Supreme Court weakened those rights by declaring that the federal government could not
regulate private forms of discrimination. Throughout the South, black Americans were denied the right to
vote by the use of the
, education requirements, and proof of property ownership.
Jim Crow laws, requiring separate housing and public facilities for blacks and whites, became the basis of
an official system of
. In a landmark case, the Supreme Court upheld racially
motivated segregation as long as
facilities were provided for blacks. The Court
overlooked the existing differences in facilities available to blacks and whites in reaching this decision.
The political mood of the 1950s favored the successful challenge to the separate-but-equal doctrine in the
Board of Education of Topeka
case in 1954. With this decision, the Court approved
several remedies, such as busing and racial quotas, to integrate schools.
The advancement of political equality beyond the classroom, however, required more extensive political
mobilization, which came to be known as the civil rights movement. During the 1960s, the unconventional
political tactics of the civil rights movement, which included boycotts and sit-in demonstrations, brought
national attention to the problem of racial discrimination. As a result, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, the most comprehensive legislation to date designed to eliminate racial discrimination.
Other minorities have had mixed fortunes in improving their lot. Latinos have only recently been able to
exercise significant political and economic clout in urban areas. Native Americans have had worse
treatment. Other nonblack ethnic minorities had to wait until 1987, when the Supreme Court extended civil
rights protection to them. In 1990, the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was extended to people
The movement toward equal civil rights for women also has a long history of confrontation and struggle.
The courts upheld laws discriminating against women in education and employment on the grounds that
they protected the “weaker sex” from the harsh realities of life. Women were also “protected” from
participating in the electoral process until the adoption of the
in 1920. During
the 1960s, the prohibition of sex-based discrimination was heralded in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title