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Presentation
The Limits of Political Citizenship in the Post-Civil Rights Era
Association for the Study of African American Life and History 94th Annual Convention (2014)
  • Glenn McNair
Abstract
From Reconstruction forward blacks had called on the federal government to stop state governments from enacting racially repressive legislation. Historically, major civil rights groups had sought to end segregation and discrimination in employment and other significant areas of black life. Blacks did not expect the federal government to correct historic wrongs or to "fix" what was wrong with them. Without the constraining hand of state government Blacks would improve their own lives. This attitude of personal and community agency changed with the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and Johnson's Great Society. From welfare programs to Affirmative Action, Blacks came to increasingly look to the federal government to make them whole. Blacks' faith in government was misplaced. While the federal government had advanced the cause of civil rights, it had done so not out of genuine concern for Blacks, but because it had been forced to do so or to advance partisan political interests. Blacks also cast their lot with a political party that would not have the power to fulfill Johnson's promises. During 1960s Blacks completed their wholesale move to the Democratic Party, just at the moment when the New Deal Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with southern whites fleeing to the Republican Party, an exodus that would establish and maintain the conservative party's hold on national politics for the next four decades. Black politicians would spend these years trying to hold onto the promises of the Great Society without the power to do so in an increasingly conservative America.
Publication Date
November 28, 2014
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
Citation Information
Glenn McNair. "The Limits of Political Citizenship in the Post-Civil Rights Era" Association for the Study of African American Life and History 94th Annual Convention (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/glenn_mcnair/4/