Decline of the Civil Rights Movement

September 28, 2006 at 11:28 pm 1 comment

I’m almost done reading Doug McAdam’s Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency. The book is a very in depth analysis of the development of the Civil Rights/Black Freedom Movement. It seems to me that in the public schools, we often get a rather surface explanation of this movement- the “Disney version” of Civil Rights, as it were.

We can use this information as a cautionary tale for other movements- for one- it’s unwise to rely too much on outside support, lest the political winds change. In-fighting among various organizations, rather than collaboration also led to the downfall of the movement. Pretty much every left-wing movement has way too many redundant organizations. Ideally different organizations in a movement can have different focuses & tactics, and appeal to different people- thus complementing each other- but often instead they compete with each other for members, funds, media attention etc.

Another problem is that, once the more obvious aspects of oppression are dismantled, or legal protections are established, it’s difficult to keep the momentum going. Sympathetic whites (or straights, or men as the case may be) think that it’s no longer a problem. The younger generation takes the rights that their elders fought for granted. It is one thing to change a society’s laws, it’s quite another to change the culture, the whole attitude people have toward a marginalized group.

It seems now we are losing some of the gains of the Civil Rights movement. Reaction against immigrants, “welfare queens”and crime reveal the still close-minded attitudes many whites have toward people of color. Cries of “reverse racism” and legal suits are destroying affirmative action. De-facto segregation in housing and education is quite extreme in many places. Interestingly the Twin Cities still seem fairly integrated compared to many other cities- Detroit for example basically has an inner core of blacks, and an outer core of whites. Whereas many T.C. neighborhoods are pretty mixed, and even some of the suburbs are becoming more multicultural.
One more positive note I can say is that, the younger generations are quite accepting of inter-racial relationships. Again, according to a recent study Minnesota has one of the higher rates of inter-marriage in the country. Given the many such couples I know in my own neighborhood alone, not too surprised by this. But this alone isn’t going to solve our problems.


Entry filed under: Race/Ethnicity.

The Sword That Heals Being Publicly Pagan

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ken  |  November 21, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Good commentary.

    Keep writing. I have only recently really become wired again and have enjoyed what I have read so far.


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