History 343 RACE 60s

Peter MacNeil
02 NOV 15
History 343
Dr. Rocksborough-Smith
Chapter 6 The Great Transformation
The civil rights movement's influence in the United States has been extensive and
enduring. It has inspired movements to promote the rights and equality of women, gays
and lesbians, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and the disabled. As Michael Omi and
Howard Winant highlight in this chapter on a transformative moment in US history, the
black movement deepened democracy in the Nation. The participation of African
Americans in local, state, and national politics—as voters and office holders—increased
dramatically as a result of the civil rights movement. The more African Americans
involved with US politics including those who were elected to office served a crucial role
in bringing racial issues to the table. White politicians also were more likely to take into
account their nonwhite constituents and give greater attention to racial matters.
Movements to obtain civil rights for black Americans have had special historical
significance. Such movements have not only secured citizenship rights for blacks but
have also redefined prevailing conceptions of the nature of civil rights and the role of
government in protecting these rights. The civil rights movements in the United States
gave birth to other new social movements as well showing that the public as a collective
could push for social change and participate in public politics.
Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of disenfranchisement,
segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence in the early
onset of the 1960s. “Jim Crow” laws at the local and state levels barred them from
classrooms and bathrooms, from theatres and train cars, from juries and legislatures. This
form of discrimination had a lasting impact on American society and the sentiment held
by the white majority did not disappear when the segregation law departed. In reality
legislation was not sufficient to eradicate racist attitudes or improve the economic status
of African Americans. The radical transformation during the 1960s demonstrated that
race was not only a matter of politics, economics or culture, but all three of these levels.
In industrial settings, black workers fought for decades against segregated promotion
lines that denied them access to higher-paying skilled and supervisory positions. The
oppressed black population would no longer tolerate this unequal treatment along with a
2nd class citizen mentality. This gave way for the rise of the “Black Power” movement,
which had a more militant stance on civil rights. The prospect of not only having rights
but also power was a strong driving force in recruiting members. Rejecting integration
“Black Power” was seen as a way of resurrecting “Black Pride” and African-American
culture. An influence of this was appealing to the current system to act according to its
stated principles of justice and equality wasn't enough that a more militant form of
struggle was needed to fundamentally transform society.
The shockwaves of the 1960s had created a wave of change for the United States.
By combining different oppositional tactics, the civil rights movement of the 1960s
created a “new racial state”. This decade resulted in redefinition of American society and
a redistribution of social and economic power.