Basic Legal Rights
Basic Legal Rights
Part 3 discusses the growth of basic legal rights. In the twenty-first century it can be hard to appreciate how remarkably welcoming the federal judiciary was to the claims of the civil rights movement. Part 3 includes chapter 7, “Access to Justice”; chapter 8, “Voting Rights and Political Representation”; chapter 9, “Public Accommodations”; chapter 10, “School Desegregation and Municipal Equalization”; and chapter 11, “Employment Discrimination.” Voting rights and political representation were key. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened the portals for dramatic increases in black voter registration. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated equal accommodation in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and other public places. Some applications of these rights were realized immediately, others not so much. This was the era in which the promise of the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decision became a reality in the Deep South. Desegregation suits proliferated. The Supreme Court dramatically increased the pace of desegregation. The varied forms of pushback were astonishing: the shutting down of a historic black high school lest white students have to attend (even at the expense of double sessions); the hiding of athletic trophies from the historic black high school upon merger; the suspension and expulsion of many black students at the moment of desegregation. The other major accomplishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the ban on employment discrimination. At the time of its passage, job and labor union segregation were ubiquitous in the Deep South. This all changed.
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