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What Civil Rights progress had been made by the 1980s

 The 1965 Voting Rights Act made the USA, and particularly
the south, more democratic – in the 11 southern states, the
number of registered black voters rose from 1.5 million in
1960 to 4.4 million in 1980

 Important cases such as the Gomillion v. Lightfoot Supreme
Court case ruled against gerrymandering and fraudulent
practices, making elections fairer. By 1980, the southern
states had 2600 leading black elected officials.

 In improving their economic and social position, black
middle-class Americans made enormous gains in the years
leading up to 1980


What issues remained for African Americans by the 1980s

 In some large cities many blacks remained poor and were forced
to live in the most run-down districts

- Unemployment among black people rose to twice the level as
white people – black people were also hit hardest in times of
welfare cuts


Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg (1971)

- Landmark case dealing with the business of students to promote
integration in public schools

- The court held that busying was an appropriate remedy for the
problem of racial imbalance in schools

- This was done to ensure the schools would be ‘properly’
integrated and that all students would receive equal
opportunities regardless of their race


Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1980)

- Landmark voting case, the Supreme Court ruled on whether Act
140 of the Alabama legislature violated the Fifteenth Amendment

- The court that the Act did violate the provision of the 15th
Amendment prohibiting states from denying anyone their right to
vote on account of race or color.

- Court case made elections fairer for minorities such as African


What were the beliefs of President Nixon (1969-74)

- Nixon had a low opinion of black people, he did not like meeting
black leaders and when he did agree to meet them, very little
was achieved. His meetings with Ralph Abernathy, who
succeeded Martin Luther King as leader of the SCLC, were
particularly hostile and fruitless.

- He had opposed expanding the 1965 voting Rights Act, in order
to ensure the support of white voters in the south


How did Nixon impact the position of African Americans

- Rigorously promoted a policy of Affirmative Action which strongly supported the
lives of working African Americans


What was the policy of Affirmative Action

- It meant that contractors were encouraged to hire more minority
workers – for example in Philadelphia, federally funded projects
were targeted to increase workers from minority groups from 4%
to 26%

- However, the policy was generally disliked by trade unions, who
believed it disadvantaged white workers, and more surprisingly,
black leaders who were convinced it had slowed down the pace
of change

- Such criticisms angered Nixon and made him more determined to
continue the policy – by 1972, 300,000 construction firms had
taken on the scheme

- Nevertheless, Millions of black people saw it as a means of
improving their lives - a way out of the ghetto and an attempt to
break down racism


How had school segregation changed by 1974

- Nixon opposed the desegregation of schools, he also opposed
the busying of children from one district to another
- However, despite his opposing, the desegregation of schools,
particularly in the south, continued
- At the beginning of his presidency, 68% of black children were
attending segregated schools in the south, by the end of his
presidency this had reduced to only 8%


How did Jimmy Carter (1977-81) impact the position of African Americans

- Carter appointed more blacks and Hispanics to federal judges
than any presidents before him

- Carter appointed two leading black women to his cabinet

- He also increased the powers of the Justice Department over
voting rights and strengthened the Equal Employment
Opportunities Commission in its fight against job discrimination

- It is clear that president Carter took action to action to benefit
minority groups, particularly blacks – however his presidency was
also beset with economic difficulties and the need to control
inflation which led to cutbacks in social welfare programmes
aimed at helping minority groups

- Higher oil prices causing higher oil prices and a general slump in
the economy – this disadvantaged African Americans as it had in
the 1930s – it made quotas for jobs unpopular and reduced
opportunities for many African Americans, a disproportionate
number of whom were dependant on state welfare


How did Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) impact the position of African Americans

- In general Reagan was not supportive of civil rights – like Nixon
he had opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting
Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Johnson

- Reagan passed the Voting rights Act of 1982 – this extended the
current policies by 25 years which prescribed a general
prohibition of discriminatory voting laws.


What was the situation for civil rights by the early 1990s

- Economic inequality remained - in 1989, 77% of whites graduated
from high school as opposed to 63% of African Americans

- 1988, unemployment among African Americans was fiver percentage
points higher than whites - and higher than the 1950s

- African Americans occupied only half of the managerial and
professional occupations of whites

-By the 1990s, the failure of the federal government to address the underlying causes of racial tension was seen in the re-emergence of serious riots in 1992


Los Angeles Riots (1992)

- Series of riots and civil disturbances that occurred in Los Angeles
County in April and May of 1992

- Unrest began after the acquittance of four officers for the arrest
and beating of Rodney King, which had been videotaped and
widely viewed in TV broadcasts

- Thousands rioted over a six-day period – widespread looting,
assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots

- Estimates of property damage were over $1 billion

- 63 people killed and 12,000 arrested