What Impact Did the Unions Have on the Civil Rights Movement?

What Impact Did the Unions Have on the Civil Rights Movement?

The notion of a labour union is rooted in egalitarianism, in promoting the rights of workers through solidarity and unity. This core principle seems to sit comfortably with the idea of racial equality. However, historically in the USA labour unions have found themselves on both sides of the civil rights debate. When they were supportive, it was often more out of necessity than genuine belief.

Despite this, organized labour was the background for towering figures in the movement – A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Walter Reuther in particular. All played elemental roles in the acceleration of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and belong in the pantheon of great civil rights leaders.

Philip Randolph.

Early 20th century

In the early 1900s many labour unions refused to admit blacks. The American Federation of Labour started out in the late nineteenth century with a nominal nondiscrimination policy, but founder Samuel Gompers later came to see blacks as, in his own words, a “convenient whip placed in the hands of the employers to cow the white man.” Where there were legal restrictions to prejudicial activity, they were usually flouted.

Gradually black workers began to organize and lobby for change. By sheer numbers alone they began to command recognition. The fact, for example, that 85,000 steelworkers were blacks could not be ignored by the CIO. The language of these lobbies – for example calling each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’- echoed that of the black equality movement.

1956 was one of the most remarkable years of the twentieth century. All across the globe, ordinary people spoke out, filled the streets and city squares, and took up arms in an attempt to win their freedom. Those in power fought back, in a desperate bid to shore up their position. It was an epic contest, and one which made 1956 - like 1789 and 1848 - a year that changed our world.

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That black and white workers shared common grievances also worked in favour of greater unity. Black workers cemented a fruitful alliance with the United Auto Workers when, in 1941, many joined the white workers protest to win recognition from the company.

Post World War Two civil rights

World War Two helped to further dissolve racial iniquities in unions, and soon it became commonplace for union contracts decreed that black workers were treated equally. The chances of arbitrary dismissal on implicit racial grounds were drastically diminished, and subsequently black workers became solidly pro-union.

Simultaneously, blacks formed and grew their own unions. Perhaps the most famous was the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, founded by A Philip Randolph in 1925, and won formal recognition in 1937.

By the 1960s, when the civil rights movement was in full swing, blacks and minorities accounted for 25% of union membership. However, the AFL-CIO, whilst nominally in favour of civil rights, was still lax when it came to preventing unions from forbidding black involvement.

1956 was one of the most remarkable years of the twentieth century. It was an epic contest, and one which made 1956 - like 1789 and 1848 - a year that changed our world.

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Even so, unions had a crucial hand in the emblematic protests of this era. ED Nixon, a regular member of the BSCP, brought the young Reverend Martin Luther King Jr to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. 8 years later, in Birmingham, Alabama, Walter Reuther, the head of United Auto Workers, helped bail King out of jail.

Martin Luther King addresses the crowd during the March on Washington.

And most significantly, labour unions were heavily involved in orchestrating and populating the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.


What impact did Martin Luther King have on the civil rights movement?

The Vision's Impact on the Civil Rights Movement Martin Luther King was a heavy hitter in several of the civil rights movements of the 1950s and '60s. His nonviolent tone was precisely what was needed for the United States government to take heed. In 1955, King became one of the leaders for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Beside above, how did Martin Luther King Jr break barriers? Martin Luther King, Jr. had a major influence on America during the Civil Rights Movement. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American, was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat. That event started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Secondly, who helped Martin Luther King with the civil rights movement?

Bayard Rustin was a close adviser to Dr. King beginning in the mid-1950s who assisted with organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott and played a key role in orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington. He's also credited with teaching King about Mahatma Gandhi's philosophies of peace and tactics of civil disobedience.

What did the I Have A Dream speech accomplish?

Delivering his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Being an advocate for nonviolent protest in the Memphis Sanitation Worker Strike in 1968. Being instrumental in establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, a civil rights organization that supports the philosophy of nonviolence.


How the labor and civil rights movements found solidarity

Labor and civil rights organizations in the United States often stand shoulder-to-shoulder on a range of issues, but that solidarity has not always been the norm.

The first national labor federation in the U.S., the National Labor Union, was founded a year after the abolition of slavery in 1865, when millions of newly freed black people to were effectively allowed to enter the broad labor force. African-American leaders recognized that their new political rights would not mean much without jobs and economic stability. But although these two nascent communities — labor unions and newly freed former slaves — would seem to be natural allies, they weren’t.

“The assumption of black inferiority was not quite ubiquitous but pretty extensive,” said Eric Arnesen, a professor of history at George Washington University whose work focuses on race, labor, politics and civil rights. “White organized labor shared the view of African-Americans held by most other white Americans, and that shouldn’t be surprising at all.”

Many unions excluded blacks from key sectors of the labor market or restricted them to the least-desirable jobs, fearing they would undercut wages and working conditions. “With few exceptions, there was no solidarity across racial lines,” Arnesen said. “The relationship to African-American workers was at best indifferent and more often hostile.”

Not surprisingly, African-Americans regarded unions mostly negatively, as institutions that excluded blacks. The civil rights pioneer Booker T. Washington urged black workers to avoid unions and even to break strikes to secure jobs otherwise closed to them. When African-Americans wanted to organize, they created their own unions. In 1869, African Americans founded the Colored National Labor Union after the National Labor Union refused to accept black delegates.

But in these early years after the Civil War, the vast majority of African-Americans lived and worked in the agricultural South — not the industrial North, where organized labor was gaining ground — so unions had little relevance to their lives. A notable exception was Alabama, where coal and steel industrialists exploited the Ku Klux Klan's anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiments to undermine solidarity between American-born white Protestants and immigrant Catholics. With the Klan's history of violence against Southern blacks, the potential for labor solidary across racial lines was remote.

Organizing the black labor force became more urgent after the Great Migration, in which millions of African-Americans headed north in the first decades of the 20th century. In the cities, black workers began to protest barriers to jobs and employment discrimination, including those imposed by the unions themselves. Black civil rights organizations (the NAACP was founded in 1909) offered a platform to address labor rights concerns. A. Philip Randolph, who organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925, was a key figure in bringing the two struggles together and winning the support of middle-class African-Americans, Arnesen says. Randolph successfully fought against the Pullman Company’s efforts to block the union and, in 1937, the porters’ union became the first black labor group to align itself with the American Federation of Labor. The other big labor alliance, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, had officially championed inter-racial solidarity since the 1930s, although in practice the track record of their member unions was uneven.

The Great Depression and the industrial mobilization of World War II galvanized the labor movement, and the alliance between civil rights and labor rights groups deepened in the 1940s. They came together to push for fair employment laws, eventually realized with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and labor organizations to varying degrees supported the African-American struggle for full citizenship. The two movements have often walked the same path. Following are some of the seminal moments in their journey:


Nonviolent Philosophy and Self Defense

The success of the movement for African American civil rights across the South in the 1960s has largely been credited to activists who adopted the strategy of nonviolent protest. Leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Lawson, and John Lewis believed wholeheartedly in this philosophy as a way of life, and studied how it had been used successfully by Mahatma Gandhi to protest inequality in India. They tried to literally &ldquolove your enemies&rdquo and practiced pacifism in all circumstances. But other activists were reluctant to devote their lives to nonviolence, and instead saw it as simply a tactic that could be used at marches and sit-ins to gain sympathy for their cause and hopefully change the attitudes of those who physically attacked them. Many interviewees in the Civil Rights History Project discuss their own personal views of nonviolence and how they grappled with it in the face of the daily threats to their lives.

When the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded at a conference for college students in 1960, members debated whether the group should adopt nonviolence as a way of life or as a tactical strategy for its mission. Courtland Cox remembers the debates at this meeting: &ldquoOne of the things that the nonviolent people&rsquos philosophy – those people, they felt that, you know, you could appeal to men&rsquos hearts. You know, my view, and which I&rsquove said to them, was that you might as well appeal to their livers, because they&rsquore both organs of the body. There was nothing to that. You did not – you engaged in nonviolence because the other side had overwhelming force. There was not a sense that the other side would do the right thing if you told them, because at the end of the day, the other side knew what it was doing to you better than you did.&rdquo Chuck McDew was also at this meeting and recalls, &ldquoMy position was when Gandhi tried nonviolence in South Africa he was beaten, jailed, and run out of the country. As I said, in the United States nonviolence won&rsquot work. Because when Gandhi used, in India, the tactic of having people lay down on railroad tracks to protest, I said, &lsquoand it worked.&rsquo I said, &lsquoBut if a group of black people lay down on railroad tracks here, in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, any of these Southern states, a train would run you over and back up to make certain you&rsquore dead. You cannot make a moral appeal in the midst of an amoral society.&rsquo And I said that it was not immoral. We lived in a society that was amoral, and as such, nonviolence was not going to work. And so, I said I couldn&rsquot and the people with me could not join Dr. King. And, uh, &lsquoThank you, but no thanks.&rsquo&rdquo

Even though activists used nonviolence at protests to gain sympathy for their cause, arming themselves with guns for self-protection was not uncommon. Mildred Bond Roxborough was a longtime secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and traveled throughout the South regularly to help with organizing. She tells a story about driving through Mississippi with Medgar Evers during a particularly violent time: &ldquoWe had had two branch presidents who had been killed just before this particular time. It was difficult to believe that these people would continue to carry on like this because the situation was so oppressive in Mississippi. We were driving one night and I had taken off my shoes and felt something on the floor which was cold. I said to Medgar, "What is this? Maybe I can move it." He said, &lsquoWell, that's my shotgun you have your feet on.&rsquo Of course my feet flew up. But this is just to give you an idea of the sense of the environment.&rdquo

The Deacons for Defense and Justice was a group founded in Jonesboro, Louisiana, in 1964 to organize men to guard the homes of activists and to protect them while they traveled. A second branch was started in Bogalusa, Louisiana, the following year. The Hicks family was protected by the Deacons, and Barbara Collins, the daughter of activist Robert Hicks, reflects on her father&rsquos position on armed self-defense in an interview with the family: &ldquoAnd my dad always said, &lsquoWhat kind of man –?&rsquo You know, Martin Luther King was a good man. He had a dream. But my Daddy fought for the dream. And it was his right to fight for the dream. You have a Constitutional right, and that&rsquos what Daddy said, &lsquoI have a right to bear arms. And if I need to protect my family,&rsquo especially when the police did not protect us, then he had a right to do that. The Deacons had a right to carry the guns.&rdquo

These interviews and many others from the Civil Rights History Project complicate our understanding of nonviolence in the movements for social justice. For more about nonviolence and armed self-defense, watch a book talk webcast from our Civil Rights History Project public programs series featuring Charlie Cobb, a former SNCC activist, on &ldquoThis Nonviolent Stuff&rsquoll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.&rdquo External

The American Folklife Center in collaboration with Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Globalization is clearly contributing to increased integration of labor markets and closing the wage gap between workers in advanced and developing economies, especially through the spread of technology. It also plays a part in increasing domestic income inequality.

Globalisation could be beneficial. The free market model of globalisation that is being promoted is focussed on the needs of business, particularly large-scale multinational companies, not on the needs of ordinary people. Workers everywhere are seeing an erosion of their job security, working conditions, and wages.


How The Civil Rights Act Of 1964 Changed American History

President Lyndon B. Johnson cajoled and collaborated with Congress 50 years ago until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and signed into law.

The Civil Rights Law, a Johnson legacy, affected the nation profoundly as it for the first time prohibited discrimination in employment and businesses of public accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Johnson worked with Democrats and Republicans from across the country and invested significant political capital to circumvent the legislators of the former Confederacy to pass the Civil Rights Act. Johnson's efforts did more for civil rights than any president since Abraham Lincoln.

This is no where more evident than in Mississippi, where voter registration of the eligible black population increased from under 7 percent in 1965 to more than 70 percent in 1967.

President Barack Obama and three former presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- are gathering in Austin this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

The world has evolved over the past half century. In 2008, American elected Obama president, our first African American president. It is a 21st century reality that would have been impossible in 1964.

While some Supreme Court decisions have in recent years reversed some initiatives of the 20th century started to help minorities, other trends have developed making civil rights equality even more robust. There is now growing equality in women's rights, disability rights, gay rights and immigrant rights across the country.

The actions of Johnson and Congress in 1964 demonstrate what American democracy is all about -- debate the issues, look for the common ground, make a decision and get something done for the better of all. ___


Civil Rights Movement Timeline

The civil rights movement was an organized effort by Black Americans to end racial discrimination and gain equal rights under the law. It began in the late 1940s and ended in the late 1960s. Although tumultuous at times, the movement was mostly nonviolent and resulted in laws to protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of color, race, sex or national origin.

July 26, 1948: President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the Armed Services.

May 17, 1954: Brown v. Board of Education, a consolidation of five cases into one, is decided by the Supreme Court, effectively ending racial segregation in public schools. Many schools, however, remained segregated.

August 28, 1955: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago is brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. His murderers are acquitted, and the case bring international attention to the civil rights movement after Jet magazine publishes a photo of Till’s beaten body at his open-casket funeral.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her defiant stance prompts a year-long Montgomery bus boycott.

January 10-11, 1957: Sixty Black pastors and civil rights leaders from several southern states—including Martin Luther King, Jr.—meet in Atlanta, Georgia to coordinate nonviolent protests against racial discrimination and segregation.

September 4, 1957: Nine Black students known as the “Little Rock Nine” are blocked from integrating into Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower eventually sends federal troops to escort the students, however, they continue to be harassed.

September 9, 1957: Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law to help protect voter rights. The law allows federal prosecution of those who suppress another’s right to vote.

February 1, 1960: Four African American college students in Greensboro, North Carolina refuse to leave a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter without being served. The Greensboro Four𠅎zell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil—were inspired by the nonviolent protest of Gandhi. The Greensboro Sit-In, as it came to be called, sparks similar “sit-ins” throughout the city and in other states.

November 14, 1960: Six-year-old Ruby Bridges is escorted by four armed federal marshals as she becomes the first student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Her actions inspired Norman Rockwell’s painting The Problem We All Live With (1964).

1961: Throughout 1961, Black and white activists, known as freedom riders, took bus trips through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals and attempted to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters. The Freedom Rides were marked by horrific violence from white protestors, they drew international attention to their cause.

June 11, 1963: Governor George C. Wallace stands in a doorway at the University of Alabama to block two Black students from registering. The standoff continues until President John F. Kennedy sends the National Guard to the campus.

August 28, 1963: Approximately 250,000 people take part in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King gives his “I Have A Dream” speech as the closing address in front of the Lincoln Memorial, stating, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

September 15, 1963: A bomb at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama kills four young girls and injures several other people prior to Sunday services. The bombing fuels angry protests.

July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, preventing employment discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. Title VII of the Act establishes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help prevent workplace discrimination.

February 21, 1965: Black religious leader Malcolm X is assassinated during a rally by members of the Nation of Islam.

March 7, 1965: Bloody Sunday. In the Selma to Montgomery March, around 600 civil rights marchers walk to Selma, Alabama to Montgomery—the state’s capital—in protest of Black voter suppression. Local police block and brutally attack them. After successfully fighting in court for their right to march, Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders lead two more marches and finally reach Montgomery on March 25.

August 6, 1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent the use of literacy tests as a voting requirement. It also allowed federal examiners to review voter qualifications and federal observers to monitor polling places.

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray is convicted of the murder in 1969.

April 11, 1968: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, providing equal housing opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin.


What impact did the Little Rock Nine have on the civil rights movement?

The Little Rock Nine. In 1954 the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were illegal. The Board of Education, has become iconic for Americans because it marked the formal beginning of the end of segregation. But the gears of change grind slowly.

One may also ask, what did the Little Rock Nine do? The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas.

Likewise, why was the Little Rock Nine important to the civil rights movement?

These nine students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957 and were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. The crisis in Little Rock is considered to be one of the most important events in the African American Civil Rights Movement.

What challenges did the Little Rock Nine face?

In their struggle to attend school, The Little Rock Nine faced verbal and physical assaults from white students, as well as death threats against themselves, their families and the black community. The nine determined students never gave up and remained focused on their education.


Civil Rights Act of 1968

The final major piece of civil rights legislation of the decade was designed to extend the legal protections outlawing racial discrimination beyond the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1966 President Johnson called for additional legislation to protect the safety of civil rights workers, end discrimination in jury selection, and eliminate restrictions on the sale or rental of housing. Over the next two years, opposition to this legislation emerged from both parties, leading to a protracted battle that culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. 115

Finding legislative solutions to racial discrimination was an important component of President Johnson’s Great Society, which initiated new roles for the federal government in protecting the civil and political rights of individuals and promoting social and economic justice. Benefitting from Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, the Johnson administration instituted immigration reforms and created federally funded programs to stimulate urban development, bolster consumer protection, strengthen environmental regulations, fund education programs, and expand the social safety net by providing health coverage through Medicare and Medicaid. 116 President Johnson made the case that fulfilling the promise of his Great Society agenda required additional action to strengthen individual rights, including the prohibition of discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_3_lbj_sign_cra_1968_brooks_lbj_library.xml Photograph by Yoichi Okamoto image courtesy of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library/National Archives and Records Administration President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on April 11, 1968. The act prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of approximately 80 percent of the housing in the U.S. Newly elected Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (fourth from left) attended the signing.

During the tumultuous summer of 1967, access to housing was at the forefront of a national discussion on urban policy, particularly after violence erupted in cities such as Detroit and Newark, New Jersey. House Democrats were unable to attract support for a fair housing bill in the summer of 1967. But the House did pass a narrow civil rights bill on August 15, 1967, which established federal penalties for anyone forcibly interfering with the civil and political rights of individuals. The bill specified that civil rights workers would be afforded similar protections when serving as advocates for those trying to exercise their rights. 119

Opponents attacked the administration’s civil rights bill as an unconstitutional intervention in a matter best addressed by the states. Many justified their resistance to the proposed legislation by highlighting the riots that broke out in July 1967. 120 Representative Conyers rejected this argument. Instead, he said, this bill is “about the problem of protecting Americans, both black and white, North and South, who are caught up in an attempt to exercise civil rights that are guaranteed them under existing laws of this country.” 121

In the Senate, Republicans joined segregationist Democrats in what seemed to be formidable opposition to the bill. When the upper chamber finally began to debate the legislation in February 1968, Senator Brooke joined with Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota to draft an amendment designed to prohibit discrimination in the sale or rental of 91 percent of all housing in the nation. On the Senate Floor, Brooke described the way segregated neighborhoods, typically far from employment opportunities, did extensive damage to the African-American community. 122 This placed an additional financial burden on black families, he noted, as they often paid similar prices as those in white neighborhoods without similar investments in the quality of housing, social services, and schools. Brooke added that he could “testify from personal experience, having lived in the ghetto,” that these limitations have a significant “psychological impact” on the majority of African Americans searching for a home. 123 “In the hierarchy of American values there can be no higher standard than equal justice for each individual,” Brooke declared. “By that standard, who could question the right of every American to compete on equal terms for adequate housing for his family?” 124

As with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois was the bellwether for Republican support. When he declared that he was open to supporting the fair housing amendment with some revisions, negotiations began between the parties. The final bill included several concessions to Dirksen, such as reducing the housing covered by the fair housing provision. Also, an amendment was added to the bill to attract the support of Senators who had been reluctant to vote for the civil rights bill, which made it a federal crime to cross state lines to participate in a riot. An additional amendment prohibited Native American tribal governments from restricting the exercise of specific constitutional rights on their lands. 125 The compromise bill passed the Senate and returned to the House on March 11, 1968.

The chairman of the House Rules Committee, William Colmer of Mississippi, was the final obstacle to the bill’s passage. For decades, opponents on the Rules Committee blocked civil rights initiatives, and Colmer sought to keep the Senate bill off the floor by sending it to a conference committee, where it could be debated and revised, or simply stalled, by Members. On April 4—the day before the Rules Committee was scheduled to vote on whether to send the bill to the House Floor or to send it to conference—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was campaigning in support of striking sanitation workers. The Rules Committee postponed its vote. A violent weekend in cities across the nation resulted in 46 people killed, thousands injured, and millions of dollars in property damage before the National Guard helped quelled the disturbances. 126 Washington, DC, suffered extensive damage and federal troops patrolled the Capitol when the Rules Committee met the following week. Unexpectedly, a majority of the committee defied the chairman and voted to send the bill to the floor. 127

In the heated House debate that followed, opponents made passage of the bill a referendum on the weekend of violence in the nation’s cities. Representative Joseph D. Waggonner of Louisiana warned that the House was being “blackmailed” by the rioters—forcing Members to pass the bill under threat of violence. 128 Representative John Ashbrook of Ohio objected on constitutional grounds, emphasizing that the sale or rental of housing regulation was a concern for the states and local municipalities. 129 Supporters, however, praised the bill as a necessary reform that would extend equal rights to a significant segment of American society, and many spoke of the need to vote for the bill in response to the tragic murder of Dr. King. 130

Less than a week later, the House approved the Senate bill by a vote of 250 to 172, and President Johnson signed it into law on April 11, 1968. 131 The measure extended federal penalties for civil rights infractions, protected civil rights workers, and outlawed discrimination by race, creed, national origin, or sex in the sale and rental of roughly 80 percent of U.S. housing by 1970. The enforcement mechanisms of the fair housing provision, however, ended up being somewhat limited in that it required private individuals or advocacy groups to file suit against housing discrimination. 132


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“I was very, very young so she didn’t get real detailed about the horrors of the time, people getting beat and all that stuff,” she said. “I felt like I was glad that my father had taken us out that morning. I didn’t understand at the time that it was part of a bigger movement.”

But 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act, Broadous and other civil rights activists say much remains to be done to ensure equality for all. There are still issues around the country, for example, with voting access and in the criminal justice system, she said.

The act “banned overt discrimination that’s what it did,” she said. Today, “a (black) kid can be walking home from the store and be shot and killed and the man who killed him be found innocent and a (black) woman protecting her children who shoots a gun in the air gets sentenced to 20 years in jail. Where is the sense in all that? Where is the justice?”