January 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm #16169jon_gunnarssonParticipant
In his guest lecture, Prof Bean claimed that Eisenhower was very supportive of Civil Rights and in particular was a driving force behind the Brown v Board decision. Prof Gutzman, on the other hand, painted a picture of an Eisenhower at most half-heartedly supportive of Civil Rights and conflicted about Brown v Board.
Who’s right here? Or is this a case where the historical evidence allows either interpretation?January 13, 2015 at 3:54 pm #16170jathrinthoyanMember
I think a clue can be seen from professor Gutzman’s comments on another thread:
Each of these questions is the subject of bookshelves of dissertations, scholarly articles, and books.
In a sense, they all require us to engage in alternative history–that is, historical fiction–to come to answers.
As I understand it, Brown v. Board of Education–result of the NAACP LDF’s legal strategy and extremely partisan behavior by numerous federal judges–spurred private activism, which itself ultimately brought segregation to Americans’ TV screens and led to adoption of the decisive VRA of 1965. That’s what ended segregation, not the 1964 CRA.
Each of the three had a role. There’s no way to know what would have happened without any of them. In general, however, it was Congress that ended segregation. Historians today tend to resist this conclusion, because they want to stress black agency–just as they want women to be responsible for women’s suffrage, even though of course it was all-male legislatures that adopted the amendment at the behest of all-male electorates in nearly all the states.January 17, 2015 at 5:18 am #16171jon_gunnarssonParticipant
Thanks Aristocra. However, that quote doesn’t really touch on what Eisenhower thought of all this.January 21, 2015 at 11:12 am #16172woodsParticipant
On balance I would lean more in Prof. Gutzman’s direction. I’ll alert him to this thread.February 8, 2015 at 11:28 pm #16173gutzmankParticipant
Eisenhower, unlike his Democratic predecessor and successor, appointed pro-Civil Rights judges to federal judgeships whenever he had the chance. He also sent the 101st Airborne to intervene in Little Rock in 1957.
However, not only did he do the latter grudgingly, but he privately mused that Brown had been wrongly decided. As you’ve seen, I believe Brown wrongly decided as well, although I think the 1965 VRA was perfectly constitutional and ought to have been adopted and enforced far, far sooner.February 9, 2015 at 6:27 pm #16174jathrinthoyanMember
However, not only did he do the latter grudgingly, but he privately mused that Brown had been wrongly decided. As you’ve seen, I believe Brown wrongly decided as well, although I think the 1965 VRA was perfectly constitutional and ought to have been adopted and enforced far, far sooner.
Is it true that LBJ and Southern Democrats blocked earlier Civil Rights Bills?February 24, 2015 at 1:33 pm #16175gutzmankParticipant
Southern Democrats did, yes. Johnson as senator at first joined them, then helped push through symbolic civil rights legislation.
As early as 1866, President Andrew Johnson–a southern Democrat–vetoed the first such bill on constitutional grounds. Again, I think he was right in his constitutional claim; in fact, his veto message sounded like Thomas Jefferson.
For my claim that it was the VRA, not the CRA, that ultimately resolved this issue–and thus that segregation could have been ended perfectly constitutionally, and without elevating federal judges to the position of American censors (in the Roman sense), see Klarman’s _From Jim Crow to Civil Rights_.
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