How far had racial equality been achieved in the USA by 1968?

The Greensboro Sit-InsRight Year 12, please submit your answers by commenting below, ensuring you’ve used evidence to back up the opinion you’re putting forward. Engage with each other’s comments also- if you disagree with something said then say so!


11 responses to “How far had racial equality been achieved in the USA by 1968?

  1. From its beginning in 1945, the African-American Civil Rights Movement faced many successes and many defeats. However, after years of struggle, black people of America received the result they had been fighting for – the 1964 Civil Rights Act, deeming racial equality for all American citizens a right. But, even though this meant, legally, that black people had to be treated as equals, racial equality had not been achieved by 1968. However, significant progress had been made.

    Even before its passing, the 1964 Civil Rights Act faced opposition, mainly from Congress. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the outlawing of segregation and discriminatory practices in employment were not followed. For example, Martin Luther King’s last campaign in 1968 was the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike where black people were fighting for the years of poor treatment and discrimination in the workplace they had faced. Just because, in de jure terms, unfair employment was against the law, it did not prove this was de facto. This was also evident in segregation as, even though segregation in public places had been put to an end, there was lots of ghettoisation – especially in the North – which evidently meant housing was segregated, building black communities separate from white people.

    Although black people were fighting against ghettoisation in The Poor People’s Campaign of 1968, the sense of community built became necessary in the black power movement, influenced by Malcolm X and his views. This is also proof of the extent black people felt it necessary to continue fighting, even after the act. There was not enough work being put in by the Government to enforce the laws of the act. So, campaign groups continued to use forms of peaceful protest and, in Malcolm X’s and The Nation of Islam’s case, violent protest. Even though enforcement of the act was becoming more strict, it was not enough to put an end to black oppression.

    The lack of support from President Johnson during the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 showed just how far the black population were from racial equality by 1968. However, there is no denying that the progress that had been made was vast compared to that in the early stages of the movement. Black people now had law on their side to fight with. But, this did not hide from the fact that de facto racial equality had not been achieved in the USA by 1968.

  2. Racial Equality had not fully been achieved by 1968. So far equality had only really been achieved within de jure segregation, the civil rights act of 1964 is an example of legal action taken by the government to ensure racial equality. However, in terms of a de facto sense, equality had not been put into practice. This is especially true for the southern states as many (African Americans) were still largely in agricultural jobs and earning less money on average than those that lived in the northern states. Social acceptance here still did not appeal to many White Americans. It can be said that this is an issue that is ongoing even in today’s modern (American) society.
    On the other hand, Civil Rights movements and activists such as Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, The black Panthers etc. Had all put a certain amount of pressure on the government to address racial equality. There were some successes in this, for example, many civil rights protests had lead to many legal changes such as, The Voting Rights act in 1965 and in 1968 the Fair Deal Housing act was introduced. Therefore, Black, Native and Hispanic Americans were earning more money and more freedom for choice, through voting and education, which would suggest that they had more political and economic freedom and power. However, the issues that the government addressed were mostly economic and political factors. Social and cultural factors had to be addressed by each racial group themselves. The black power movement is an example of this, i.e. Miles Davis using African art on the covers of his Albums. Socially, black, Hispanic and Native Americans were still disregarded despite the fact that many were placed in high positions within the federal government, or that they had a good education etc. It could be said that they were still in that same position as being inferior to white Americans. Therefore, racial equality had not been achieved by 1968, with the exception of political and economic equality.

  3. Many civil rights groups had fought for many years to gain racial equality. By 1968 racial equality had been achieved on a de jure level however on a de facto level there was a great deal of discrimination and racism was still a huge issue in America at this time. By this time there was significant progress made in terms of political rights, voting rights increased for many and there were many civil rights acts. Racial equality didn’t just concern the black population of America there was also a large number of native Americans and Hispanics.
    In terms of political rights there had been a great deal of progress made towards racial equality there were acts such as the 1965 voting rights act, this act made it illegal to deny black people in America the right to vote. The 1964 civil rights act banned segregation in all US states. This would suggest that racial equality had been achieved in the USA by 1968 to a great extent. There was also quite a big improvement on a social and economic level. There were employment acts that encouraged employers to employ African Americans. This brought a new wave of middle class black Americans. Employment levels of black Americans dropped dramatically and the economic conditions of black Americans improved dramatically. However there was still a huge problem in American society because of racism. Many white racists were still stuck in their racist mindset. This caused many problems in American Society.
    There were other groups of minorities that were not as well off as the black Americans. Groups suck as the Hispanics and the native Americans still had to fight for their political rights, it was not until much later on that these groups gained any sort of political rights. This would suggest that that racial equality was not achieved in America by 1968 because although there had been a lot of focus on the black people’s fight for freedom other groups struggled to gain the same attention and therefore didn’t achieve the same success.
    There were many different civil rights groups African Americans achieved the most success they achieved racial equality in a political sense, by achieving the right to vote and gaining the fair employment act. These helped black Americans gain equality politically but they were still discriminated against in American society. The de jure change did not lead to a de facto change in society. Other groups such as the Hispanics and Native Americans did not achieve the same success. Hispanics and Native Americans often lived in huge areas of poverty and didn’t have much in the way of political power. This inevitably meant that these groups were unlikely to gain political equality. Native Americans were a long way off equality as they had not been integrated into mainstream society and did not apply to America’s society. Racial equality was not achieved by 1968 because many racial minorities had very limited voting power and therefore they were widely ignored by political powers.
    Overall racial equality was not achieved in America by 1968 because although some groups achieved political success many groups struggled to gain the attention needed. Some minorities struggled to gain equality because they had very little voting power and were seen as irrelevant by most political groups. All of these groups were not equal with white Americans in a economic sense, although there was a new wave of middle class black Americans most of these people still lived in poverty and had huge levels of unemployment. Most of the minorities were still discriminated by American society especially in the south. There were acts such as the fair employment act and various civil rights acts that did improve conditions however this did not make a huge difference to the lives of many people’s lives and they were still a long way off an equal society.

  4. By 1968 racial equality had been achieved more successfully in terms of political rights, but less successful in social, economic and cultural terms. There were many obstacles to racial justice and the civil rights movement faced huge opposition when it tried to change laws and to make sure they were enforced, and even when addressing the issues of social and economic equality. By 1968 full racial equality had not been achieved but progress had been made in terms of; education, transport, desegregation of public places, voting rights, employment and public opinion. However, although the USA was definitely a fairer society, there was still a long way to go before all Americans could be considered ‘equal’.

    In 1964 black Americans had finally reached a point that could help them to be considered equal. The 1964 Civil Rights Act – which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination – had survived strong opposition from southern members of Congress. On the de jure side of things this meant a great deal to the civil rights movement as it was now a legal statement that all Americans were to be treated equally. However, the de facto side showed different results as both citizens and authorities of America – mainly in the south – had a different opinion.

    After some quite remarkable progress led by Martin Luther King, his assassination led to a huge streak of violence, which enabled his death to become symbolic to black Americans, which definitely encouraged more people to become involved in the movement. For example, The Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968 – this was rejected by President Johnson and was unfocused on due to the Vietnam War. Due to this the campaign had attracted more people to become involved with the movement and helped to raise the money necessary for the campaign. This showed that although the de jure side wasn’t as supportive and didn’t really make a huge impact, the de facto side was definitely showed an improvement.

    The next huge step for racial equality was led strongly by inspiration from Malcolm X. After his assassination, many of his aims became central to radical groups, such as the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers became successful within the eyes of equal rights due to actions such as the ‘Survival Programmes’. This gave free breakfast to school children; set up health clinics to tackle sickle cell disease; and set up free ‘liberation schools’ helping to give back black American’s their identity. They became very popular across America, again boosting the support from de facto. However, they struggled to fight the FBI’s attacks. This showed a lack of support from authorities, meaning that although black Americans were beginning to see a change, de jure was not following this.

    By 1968, it was obvious that full racial equality had not been achieved. Before black power, a combination of mass action, peaceful protests and skillful leaders had managed to keep racial justice on the political agenda, but authorities were still reluctant to deliver de jure change. However, once reaching the stage of black power, there wasn’t really much political involvement. Although the de facto reached new heights with activists helping black Americans to find their identity and emphasising pride and self-help, their campaigns attracted racists opponents which put a hold on any more de jure change. Although, significant change was made, as the black power movement encouraged Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and women to adopt their methods and push equality all across America.

  5. Many different cvil rights groups fought for long periods of time to gain racial equality within the USA. Leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King preached different views but ultimately by 1968 limited success was made in the fight for equality within America.
    African-Americans really struggled to gain economic well being with the white Americans throughout the civil rights movement. Over half of African americans struggled to get work throughout America but especially in the southern states like Alabama or Mississippi. Any jobs that was given to African Americans would usually be unfair and they would be paid far less than white man doing the same job. Although title VII of the civil rights act of 1964 claimed to have helped African Americans amongst other minorities to find jobs they were ultimately flawed. De Facto change was minimal as racial stereotyping and biased employment still continued. All in all economic equality and equal opportunity of employment was still a large problem for many African Americans By 1968.
    Segregation was another problem many black Americans struggled with
    throughout the entirety of the civil rights movement. Segregation was a major issue to many African Americans as they found themselves in “black schools” which were proven to be significantally worse than the schools that white Americans could attend freely. A significant case not only in the desegregation of schools but in the civil rights movement as a whole, Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 was cited as being the beginning of the end of segregation in America. Though after this laws began to change and during the sixties after the civil rights act segregation was still a problem for a large amount of Black Americans. It was still a De facto problem as especially in southern America people had barely changed their views on segregation but overall racial segregation had began to collapse as more white Americans followed the civil rights movement. Though it was still a recurring problem for a number of Black Americans, by 1968 racial segregation began to collapse as more began to accept equality in America but it was still a present issue for many.
    All in all there was indeed a large De Jure change in the quality for African Americans in the push for the civil rights movement by 1968. The civil rights acts of the sixties promised a lot of change for Black Americans. On a De Facto level however, they achieved very little. Equal employment opportunities and segregation still troubled the lives of many black Americans by 1968.

  6. The fight for racial equality from the Second World War up to 1968, however there are many factors involved in this time period which left racial equality to become unfinished and not fulfilled into complete effect. Both “de jure” and “de facto” actions had been made towards this, some with great effect on civil rights, and others which were poorly demised.

    The fight for racial equality began in 1945, where Harry S Truman became President of the United States and 2 years later began “To secure these rights”; a ground-breaking government report which aimed for a radical reform programme. Even though its achievements were very limited, such as its fair housing programme which aimed to build better houses for black people yet only a few were built, but it is one of the first examples which proved that the government had intentions to try and abort racism.
    Harry S Truman was the man who got the ball rolling; many Presidents after him had aims to achieve integration and equality after Truman had highlighted how important this really is. President Dwight D Eisenhower created 2 acts which aimed for the black right to vote in 1957 and 1960, and President Lyndon B Johnson set about many acts for black people, such as the fair housing act of 1968, the education act of 1965 and the famous Civil rights act of 1964. President JFK may not have done a lot in the sense of acts, but initiated civil rights and was also very close with Civil Rights groups and many of their campaigns in his period of presidency, as well as being very close with Native American leaders to help them as well as black people.

    Another important aspect of getting black people equality is Martin Luther King; a man with a dream, and his Civil Rights groups. Their aims were for black and White people to integrate in as peaceful a fashion as possible. He was involved in many civil rights campaigns, such as the March on Washington and The Montgomery Bus Boycott to name but a few. These are mostly examples of “de facto” progress towards black equality as well as just “de jure” progress as shown above which usually has limited value. This demonstrates that it is not just congress and government that have the power to end racism across America, but that unity of people can also have a very valid part to play. However, there are also scenarios where MLK and his followers were not as successful, such as the Memphis Sanitations Workers strike, where Memphis city authorities used tear gas to break up marches. Peacefulness only lasted an hour and King was seen as a coward. This was to be one of Kings last ways of protest before his assassination, and it didn’t exactly end on a high…

    Many of these people who helped aim for racial equality in 1968 had an opponent which either distracted them or opposed them. The Civil Rights movement had the enemies of Malcolm X and ‘The Black Panthers, who were alike to Moriarty compared to the Civil Rights’ Sherlock Holmes. Both groups had about just as many followers in the 1960s when they were formed, but instead of fighting for racial equality, they aimed for black supremacy. Their actions of violence along with their aims did not help Civil Rights groups getting on with political leaders. The Presidents themselves also had Congress to face who were usually against their idea for racial equality, such as in the 1964 Civil Rights act which outlawed the segregation of any public place, which spelled the end of legal segregation across the south, but had a lot of congress opposition and it wasn’t as much a success as it could have been. President Johnson also had the Vietnam war to be dealing with which stopped him from complete concentration on Civil rights. All these distractions are reasons for why Civil Rights was not fully accomplished by 1968, yet demonstrates that significant progress was still possible to accomplish by 1968.

  7. By 1968 racial equality in America had improved but had not been fully achieved. The change was most noticeably de jure segregation. For example the Civil Rights Acts had given black Americans equality but only in the law. There were still many economic, social and cultural problems that black Americans had to face. The civil rights movement had a lot of obstacles when trying to achieve racial justice but by 1968 had made significant progress in areas such as voting rights, education and public transport.
    Civil Rights activists such as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers made a lot progress towards achieving racial equality. Radical groups like these preached self-defence, thus creating a stronger side to African Americans and strengthening the movement by creating pride within them.
    Another key member of the Civil Rights movement was Martin Luther King. He provided leadership to many campaigns and groups, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Unlike Malcolm X he promoted peaceful protest; these non-violent protests and civil disobedience caused many crisis situations where the government had to take action which in turn showed the inequities and injustice that African Americans were facing. The protests were done with sit-ins, marches, and boycotts. Finally the work of leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X prompted legal actions such as the Fair Housing Act 1968.
    However most of the problems taken on by the government were political and economic, so different activist groups dealt with social and cultural problems themselves. Through the 1960s there was a big shift in these areas. Black people were starting to be portrayed more favorably and positively in the media, for example Bill Cosby’s role on the television show I spy.
    On the other hand there were still major problems when dealing with racial equality. The civil rights campaign struggled to achieve de facto change due to the overwhelming opposition they faced from the likes of Congress, local police, public opinion and presidents. For example Congress went to extreme lengths to weaken the Civil Rights Act of 1968, in such a way that the new rights it promised could not be enforced by the federal government. We can see the lack in de facto change from events such as the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike 1968. This is a good example as they were fighting for the rights that they had supposed to have been guaranteed in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Another example of where a de facto change didn’t occur is in housing, there was still ghettoization throughout America showing whites unwillingness to live equally with African Americans.
    Therefore racial equality had been partially achieved in some areas but not fully.

  8. By 1968 the black American minorities had accomplished some incredible change to the Civil Rights and the racial equality. The four main key themes are, social, political, economic and legal equality that they did achieve by 1968. However, not all four groups did gain full equality but the first big, main steps were made and awareness was there.

    For example, Martin Luther King was believed to be the biggest influence and most persuasive man to actually accomplish something from his beliefs. MLK believed in peaceful protests to get the message across. His achievements for these peaceful protests were, the change of education for blacks. It was known that the Civil Rights Campaigns of the 1950’s-60s had achieved some major legal victories. Such as the case of Sweat v. Painter had established that black and white people were entitled to equal educational resources. In addition there was the case of Brown v,. Board that went further than Sweatt v. Painted it established that a segregated education could never be an equal education. Both of these case come out with a brilliant out come for Black students, because they were finally accepted into having the same education as white students and this also shows that racial equality has been changed in this period because of the cases that went to court.

    Also there was transport, voting rights, employment and income also housing and the public opinion and support for the civil rights campaigns had also been changed quite dramatically because of the Civil Rights Campaigns and the peaceful protests. For transport there was the case Morgan v. Virginia which has successfully established that the segregation of interstate transport was actually illegal. Also voting rights, The voting rights act of 1965 was extremely effective in increasing the voter registration for Black Americans. Both of these huge changes were because of the Civil Rights protests and the persuasion of all the incredible leaders that had participated. It also goes to show how far racial equality had been achieved by 1968.

  9. By 1968 American society was a much fairer community with complete legal racial equality. There was a significant amount of de jure change for black people as the civil rights movement – and one of its main leaders (Martin Luther King) – had managed to campaign and fight for total equality, and succeeded. However there were many obstacles that the movement faced from both people and groups which hindered the campaigns and resulted in a lessened amount of de facto change being made.

    Martin Luther King was the first major character to take a leading role in the civil rights movement. His peaceful protesting and eagerness to compromise and work with all people including the government brought the movement as far as it could have gone in terms of legal changes. The year he was assassinated the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, allowing black people the exact same opportunities and privileges as white people had. The passing of this act was a massive accomplishment for the civil rights movement and gave black people the confidence and support from the law and government to help them live their lives in freedom.

    However, despite this act being passed and complete racial injustice being ‘abolished’, there were still many hurdles and objections for black people. De jure change had been made, but in reality there was a great deal of social, economic and cultural problems which the movement was yet to overcome. Groups such as the Black Panther Party and leaders like Malcolm X seemed to take on the responsibility of progressing the civil rights movement from here on, and demanded more practical change. Malcom X used very head on protesting, in the hope that now de jure change had been made, de facto change would start to improve with it.

    The Black Panther Party (inspired by Malcom X) were only around for a short period of time within the civil rights movement however impacted the personal lives of black people enormously. Focusing on the working class and those in the North, the BP’s set up liberation schools, breakfasts for kids and health clinics, all in aid of black citizens. Despite this, the Black Panther Party was disliked by the FBI and much of their attention was on bringing the group down, which gave BP’s negative media attention. This is a factor of the social implications that had not yet been resolved by the civil rights movement, and that hindered it.

    Because of the large and signifcant amount of legal changes made, and the impact and improvement of black peoples lives because of black power, it is clear that there was a healthy amount of racial equality achieved by 1968. However, because of the social, cultural and economic implications that were yet to be resolved, many black people lived in the society where they were still treated unfairly and wrongly, even after it being considered against the law. This is evidence to show that black and white people were not actually considered ‘equal’ by 1968. It was more the case of there being limited success for the civil rights movement.

  10. Racial equality had not been achieved by 1968, although a foundation of change had been set up mostly in du jure segregation. Many Civil rights acts had been passed so black people had only really been given segregation within the law. Peoples opinions and views, however, were much harder to change. This meant that Black Americans were still treated as 2nd class citizens due to de facto segregation.

    An example of this is The Greensboro sit-ins which occurred in 200 cities, as direct result 161 had desegregated but some places in the south were set on keeping segregation. Until the civil rights act of 1964 which forced a further 53 cities to desegregate, consequently a total of 214 southern cities had desegregated by the end of 1965.They were to have the same rights to equal facilities that white Americans had although, the act did not solve all the problems. However there was a negative backlash from some shops and dinners in the South who would rather close down than desegregate.

    On the other hand, there were some campaigns that achieved success for the civil rights movement, for example The Little Rock campaign this forced integration, The NAACP went to court, in cooper v. Aaron 1958. The Supreme Court then ruled that is was illegal to prevent desegregation. This demonstrated a testing of Supreme Court rulings, consequently this lead to de jure change leading to de facto change.

    Additionally, Women and Hispanics gained little political equality. Inspite of all of the efforts of The National Organisation for Women (NOW) their campaigns never lead to an Equal Rights Amendment. Hispanic Americans made even less of an impact towards their political standing compared to women and African Americans, they were highly disciminated against in governement positions as Roybal was the only Hispanic candidate elected to congress pre-1968. In terms of the extent that equality had been achieved politically, African Americans had gained the most change towards their equality compared to Women and Hispanic Americans

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