Civil Rights in the US: Blacks and Segregation

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Introduction By far the most important piece of civil rights legislation ever passed in the history of the United States was the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which finally ended the system of dual public schools in the Southern states and abolished Jim Crow segregation is hospitals, transportation and public facilities. Only the 1965 Voting Rights Act was of equal importance, and no legislation since that time has had as much of an effect on politics, economics and society in America. It benefitted not only blacks but women, the handicapped, Hispanics, Native Americans and members of other minority groups, who have managed to hold onto most of their gains in spite of the conservative backlash of the last thirty years. Unlike the First Reconstruction of 1867-77, the Second was never completely repealed by the reactionary and racist forces in the U.S., although they have certainly tried. Although violence against civil rights workers by the Ku Klux Klan continued, especially in Alabama and Mississippi, this type of federal intervention soon undermined the institutions and organizations in the South that had kept blacks as second-class citizens since the end of the First Reconstruction in 1877. Therefore the civil rights revolution was very successful as far as it went, but by no means a complete revolution, especially in social and economic life. Martin Luther King recognized fully this at the time, and even Barack Obama is well aware that structural and institutional racism is
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