Civil Rights - Presidents



Less for civil rights than Truman

  • did reaffirm Truman's support for desegregating military
  • worked against discrimination in federal facilities + federal hiring => but his President's Committee on Government Contracts wants v effective

Arthur Larse said e was "neither emoionally nor intellectual in favour of combating segregation"

Ambrose said E "passed on to his successsors the problem of guaranteeing constitutional rights to Negro citizens"

Robert Cook says under E there was "relative federal inactiviity" -> why CR movement didn't advance more

Eisenhower's Presidency

January 1952 - January 1961
  • grew up in all white south
  • spent much of life in segregated armed forces
  • speech said that equality did not mean they had to "migle socially - or that a Negro could court my daughter"

Eisenhower's first State of the Union Adress

February 1953

Called for an end to racial discrimination

Earl Warren appointed Chief Justice

October 1953

By Eisenhower -> reward for supporting him in election 1952

Liberal appointment

Really regretted appointing him after Brown
Said Southerners weren't bad, just wanted "to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some bi overgrown Negroes"
Said that desegregation may lead to "social disintegregation"

Brown I


Eisenhower said he feared "great emotional straisn" would come from desegregating schools

Refused to enforce until Little Rock

introduced pretty quickly in:
-Washington DC
some towns and citiies in Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida

Ignored in heart of Old confederacy:
Georgia, SC, Alabama, Miss, Louisiana

Montgomery Bus Boycott

1955 - 1956

Eisenhower refuses to support support

Brown II


A relief for Eisenhower => didn't enforce, didn't like Brown I

Death of Emmett Till

August 1955

Eisenhower made no comment on the murder
contrast to Truman's condemnation of the murder of black soldiers

Southern Manifesto


All but 3 (LBJ refused) southern politicians sign this
Committed to fighting against Brown
=> Eisenhower refused to condemn

Autherine Lucy


University of Alabama forced to admit her, then they expel her
=> Eisenhower made no comment despite the fact that he always said he would support federal court orders

Hungarian uprising + Ghanian independence


=> then Eisenhower goes on with civil rights act
=> conscious of global mood

Election year for Eisenhower's second term


Only 20% of Southern blacks registered to vote just before the campaign
=> so he drew up a civil rights bill to get the black vote

Little Rock 9, Arkansas


Stephen Ambrose says until here he provided "almost no leadership at all" on civil rights

Governor Faubus refuses to accept Brown and allow black children to enter Little Rock school desegregated

Charles Mingus wrote a song about this, it's pretty good

Eisenhower had tried to negotiate a settlement with Faubus => failed
Rioters ignored his calls
Constitution + federal law seemed threatened

Eisenhower previously said he would never send troops in to intervene
But mob got out of hand -> sent in troops to protect the black children

E gave a radio speech trying to restore harmony
he intervetnion said was bc of his "inescapable" esponsibility to enforce the law
Made no mention of integregation and blamed "disorderly mobs"
once again refused to enforce Brown
Said USSR would make propaganda of Little Rock

Civil Rights Act of 1957


Democratic senators weakened bill

E admitted he did not know what was in the bill "there are certain phrases I did not completely understand" (dumb fuck) + did not figth to keep it in tact

Did little to help black people to register to vote

Eisenhower's state of the Union Adress

January 1957

Praised the civil rights bill
expressed "shock" that only 7k/900k blacks in south were allowed to vote, registrars setting impossible questions for blacks

Eisenhower meets with Civil Rights Leaders

June 1958

A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Lester Granger of the National Urban League
=> but did only ever meet them once

Only 6.4% of blacks at integrated schools in South


only 2% in the deep south

Eisenhower clearly not enforced Brown

Civil Rights Act of 1960


Idea came after 1957 act weakened so much => late 1958

Southern democrats diluted again

-penalties for obstructing black exercise of the franchise

Both of Eisenhower's acts ONLY ADDED 3% of black voters to electoral roles during 1960

(As a senator, Kennedy opposed both of E's civil rights bills

Civil Rights Comission report says...


57% of housing sub-standard
Black life expectancy 7 years < white
infant mortality rate 2x ^ than whitw


His own Catholic Irish parents moved away to New York bc of discrimination from Anglo-Saxon ancestry -> understood struggle? (nah)

Kennedy appoints Howard Woffos


As White House Civil Rights advisor

Interstate Desegregation supposedly enforced



Thanks to Robert Kennedy's actions

But a Canadian historian says there was de facto segregation Selma, Alabama, bus station uuntil 1966

Kennedy's election campaign


Promised to help blacks if elected
-said housing discrimination could be got rid of with the stroke of a pen
-said racism was immoral + damaged international reputation
-Eisenhower said his call to Corretta King when MLK imprisonned helped the campaign (Nixon did nothing, and MLK's dad said he had a suitcase of votes to give him)

Despite this, did not propose any civil rights legislation in the year that he was elected (narrow margin victory)
Also did nothing, initially, for housing

Kennedy's presidency

January 1961 - November 1963

No previous president made so many black appointments to the federal bureacracy
-appointed 5 black federal judges
- 40 blacks to top posts e.g. White House press secretary
BUT also 20% of his Deep South judicial appointments were segregationists
-> one of them even referred to black litigants as "niggers" and "chimpanzees" + unlawfully obstructed black voting registration drives in Mississippi
(had to do this? bc of their power in the democrat party?)

token gestures were easy:
-Invited more black people to white house than any other president
-resigned from a club that wouldn't take black people
-forced Washington Redskins to hire black people

Freedom Rides


On interstate bus travel (supreme court decisions 1946 and 1960 already said segregation on them was illegal)

Kennedy accused the freedom riders for lacking patriotism
=> was during a crisis with the soviets
said "SNCC has got an investment in violence"

Robert wanted to help protect freedom riders
but also not alienate Southern democrates/63% of Americans who, opinion polls indicated, didn't support freedom rides

After freedom rides, SNCC worked the same year on voter registration
Kennedys did nothing when white racists attacked those registering to vote
Robert condemned violence but would not intervene with local law enforcement unless a total break down of law and order
=> contrast to war against crime, overstepped his authority loads

Kennedy founds CEEO

March 1961

Committee of Equal Employment Opportunity

Aimed to ensure all americans had equal employment opportunities within government + in firms who had contracts with gov

some triumphs
e.g. integration + promotion of blacks at the Lockheed plant in Georgia

But failed to be effective mostly -> not a big increase

overhyped success:
100% increease in black employment often was 1 to 2

Robert gets National Guards sent to protect Abernathy's church

May 1961

White mob outside when they rallied (with King) in support of Freedom Rides

Kennedy appoints Robert Kennedy

September 1961

As attorney general
-> responsible for civil rights

"I didn't lose much sleep about Negroes (before 1961), I didn't think about them much, I didn't know about all the injustice"

Kennedys brought 57 suits against violations of black voting riots in south
-> only 6 under Eisenhower
e.g. Robert threatened Louisiana officials with contempt of court sentences when they denied funds to newly segregated schools in New Orleans
=> hastened desegregation in New Orleans, Atlantat + Memphis

Thurogood Marshall appointed to US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

October 1961

By Kennedy

As a federal judge

Albany Movement

November 1961

Kennedys take neutral stance over the arrest of activiists

Literacy bill for voting failed


said blacks with a sixth grade education could vote
=> failed bc of a southern filibuster

James Meredith tries to go to Ol' Miss

September 1962

Robert Kennedy sent 500 marshalls to help him enroll
clash with mob, 2 marshalls shot and 1/3 injured
Meredith did enroll tho

Mississippi voting



Kennedy justice department backs down on voting rights in Mississippi when Southern Democrats protest

Birmingham Campaign


only the interstate terminals in Birmingham integrated, public facilities segregated, black job opportunities poor

sit-ins, street marches, pray-ins from King

Bull Connor hosed protesters
=> Kennedy said the tv of it sickened him + that he could "well understand" black exasperation

Robert sent in Justice Department representatives

Helped a lot, but reluctanctly at first

Kennedy admitted this event forced him to respond

Civil Rights Act of 1964 proposed

February 1963

Moderate attempt to guarantee desegregation in public places + to help blacks to use vote

civil rights activiists said useless without an FEPC
Stuck in congress
=> passed under LBJ

Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

June 1963

Governor George Wallace tries to stop Vivian Malone and James Hood enrolling at University of Alabama
had given speech of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever"

Kennedy sent federal troops, marshals and the federalised Alabama National Guard

Civil Rights Address

11 June 1963

King delighted by it bc Kennedy acknowledged that civil rights was "primarily" a "moral issue"
=> propsed the civil rights act of 1964 during it

March on Washington

August 1963

Kennedy had originally opposed it
=> saw as a rebuke for slowness on civil rights
Worried it would damage his position in Congress

Eventually endorsed the March
=> made sure was peaceful, interracial + non-critical
Bc of this some said it had been taken over, Malcolm X called it the "farce on Washington"

Poll shows

September 1963

89% of blacks approve of K's presidency
70% of Southern whites felt he was moving too fast on integration
approval rating in south dropped from 60% in march 1963 to 44% in this poll

Only 2-3% of America's black children attend deseg schools


As late as here
=> Kennedy didn't help much did he


Worked for a Mexican American (only) school -> was aware of prejudice
Father worked in the Texas against the KKK

"I wanted power to give things to people... especially the poor and the blacks"
But was aware that discrimination "cannot be upset overnight" -> must be gradual

Like Kennedy, voted against civil rights measures in Congress for poltiical expediency
e.g. agaisnt measures to prevent lynching + a poll tax
Said he was for black people but respected states' rights
Thought that ^ housing, employment conditions, healthcare would be better than civil rights legislation

Worked behind scenes as senator
=> 1938 ensured federal funding for housing in Austin, Texas -> benefitted Mexicans, blacks, white slum dwellers

Brown decision


LBJ is one of the few southern politicians to support it
-> out of respect for the constitution
-> refused to sign the southern manifesto

LBJ kills a civil rights bill


Civil Rights Act of 1957


LBJ promised Texans that there was "no foundaitons" to rumours that he was supporting it
But he acc orchestrated its passage
Diluted the parts most offensive to sotuherners (made far less ineffective)

Civil Rights act of 1960


LBJ is v important in the passing of Eisenhower's second civil rights bill too

LBJ is vice president

January 1961 - November 1963

James Farmer + Roy Wilkins both rate LBJ higher on civil rights issues, as vice-president, than Kennedy as president

Shortly before Kennedy's assassination LBJ urged the administration to make a real "moral commitment" to civil rights

Kennedy founds CEEO


LBJ, as vice-president, is appointed chairman
He absolutley does not want the job, said lacked necessary and money and power

But did the best he could
believed America was "just throwing aside one of our greatest assets" through racism

Federal jobs held by black people ^ 17%


Under CEEO (LBJ)

Federal jobs held by black people ^ 22%


LBJ's Presidency

November 1963 - January 1969

(was vice-president, became president when JFK got his head bapped in)

Felt duty bound to see through Kennedy's wishes (as an unelected president)
=> called for pass of civil rights act

Roy Wilkins believed Johnson was "absolutley sincere" in his support for icivl rights

Black unemployment decreased 34%
% blacks living below poverty line decreased 25%

Eisenhower's brother described Johnson as "the most militant civil rights leader" in American history

As he left office LBJ said "so little have I done. So much do I have left to do"

LBJ meets with Civil Rights Leaders


In the White House
MLK, James Farmer, Whitney Young

Election year for LBJ


His support for civil rights probs didn't help him -> helped regardless
although, did secure by far majority of black votes

Great Society programs

1964 - 1965

set of programs with the main goal as the elimination of poverty and racial injustice

But LBJ escalated Vietnam war during his presidency
=> meant less money for making the great society

A "legsilative revolution"

- LBJ's 24 years in Congress
- unusual 2/3 of Congress on his side (rare to have Democrat president + majority Congress)

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party try to replace segregationist


Democrats at the Democratic National Convention

LBJ was outraged -> said the south would go to the replublicans now

1965 the Civil Rights Act acc stopped the current democrats doing what they were doing -> response wasn't acc too bad

68% of Americans favoured LBJ's civil rights bill

January 1964

=> religious leaders ^ supported civil rights after Birmingham

224 "hostile outbursts" (riots)

1964 - 1968

Really bad for LBJ's support from white people

FBI blamed:
-misery of ghetto life
-oppressive summer weather (e.g. the film do the right thing)
-communist agitation

LBJ told press it wasn't just bc of unemployment (were lots of free jobs in some of the places)
Was bc of housing discrimination + absence of black policemen in ghettos

Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 1964

Southern senator had told him it would cost him the presidential election
LBJ said "I'll pay it gladly"

Said that discrimination was completely unjust
"thats wrong. Adn there ought to be something to change that"

Had to overcome the longest filibuster in Senate history
passage owed to Kennedy -> won over Republican minority leader before his death
With the death of Kennedy, did not have to compromise as Johnson feared, so bill was not emasculated like Eisenhower's

a Johnson aide credits Johnson with it passing -> gave loads of his time and political capital to break the filibuster

Said the act would be Kennedy's best "eulogy"

Tried to win over southern whites by appealing to self-interest -> would mean the minorities would "get off our taxpayer's back"

Irving Berstein describes its passing as "a rare and glittering moment in the history of American democracy" -> significant

-gave the gov tools to end de jure segregation in the South
-prohibtied segregation in public places
-furthered school desegregation
-established an Equal Employment Comission (better than Kennedy's wanky one)

- did little to facilitate black voting or improve race relations
-said federal funding should not go to segregated schools -> but went to Chicago under Mayor Daley, still segregated

LBJ manipulates federal funding to favour blacks

1965 - 1966

gave more federal money to districts in South compliant on school desegregation

Told University students more was needed than just Acts


at Howard University

"This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights"
=> needed affirmative action

Medicare + Medicaid introduced


Helped poor black people with healtchare
=>black infant mortality rate halved within a decade

Higher Education Act


More successful than primary + secondary one

Significant aid to poor black coleges
Number of black college students QUADRUPLED within a decade

Congress rejects a civil rights bill


To prohibit housing discrimination

Polls showed 70% of white Americans opposed having large numbers of blacks in their neighbourhood

Elementary and Secondary Education Act


LBJ hoped would help get children out of the ghettos

Poorer states e.g. Mississippi benefitted

By end of 1960s high school diploma % of blacks went form 40% to 60%

But reluctant officials + ghetto peer pressure meant effectiveness limited

Johnson makes Thurgood Marshall Solicitor General


Johnson escalates Vietnam war

1965 - 1966

Fairclough says this "added to the fragmentation of the civil rights movement"

Bloody Sunday

March 1965

600 civil rights marchers beaten up by police

=> triggered LBJ into action to fill gaps in the 1964 civil rights act => asked congress fo the voting rights bill

Voting Rights Act

August 1965

outlawed literacy tests + poll taxes

Late 1966 only 4 of old confederate states had <50% of eligible blacks registered to vote
1968, even in Mississippi up to 59%
1965-9 number of black people elected to office in South increased SIXFOLD

Watts Riot

August 1965

Rioting in LA against the de facto segregation

Johnson could not believe it
"how is it possible, after all we've accomplished?"
later called it "all that crazy rioting which almost ruined everything"
Fairclough says was bc Johnson's reforms were made with the South in mind
The "War on poverty", says AF, raised hopes without offering a route out of the ghetto

"The situation fo many blacks in the North had not improved at all, and in some respects it was deteriorating"-AF

Secretly arranged for federal funding to pour into Watts
Publicly compared rioters to the KKK

88% compliance in desegregation of schools in South

September 1965

Probs helped by LBJ's funding manipulation efforts

Number of black childre attending desegregated schools tripled

LBJ proposes a Demonstration cities' bill

January 1966

To try to get rid of urban blight in leading cities

Congressional conservatives opposed it as "something for blacks"
Claimed it would result in shcool busing

Only passed by a v narrow margin

Black Panther Party founded


Calling for self-defence
=> further white withdrawal of support for civil rights

Poll shows 90% white opposition to civil rights legislation


=> watts riots, SNCC + CORE expelling white members etc.

SNCC + CORE expel white members

1966 - 1967

(didn't last long after that, in 1965 95% of CORE's money from whites

Riots in 38 major cities



including Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia

First Black Cabinet Member


Robert C. Weaver

Democratic governor of Missouri tells LBJ...


"public disenchatment with the civil rights programmes" was one of main reasons why Democrats so unpopular

King condemns the Vietnam War

April 1967

the Johnson administration "branded him an ingrate, a political enemy"-AF

Newark's black ghetto riots

July 1967

after rumours of police brutality against a black cab driver

six days of riots, 26 dead, 1500 injured

Then Detroit erupted
40 dead, 2k injured, 5k arrested, 5k homeless
LBJ had to send federal troops

Thurgood Marshall appointed as a Supreme Court judge

October 1967

First black supreme judge EVER
=> Eisenhower's choice, his wife had wanted the first female supreme court judge

Told a journalist that he would probs suffer politically, but it didn't matter

Civil Rights Act of 1968


Prohibited discrimination in sale of rental + housing

Hard to enforce bc of white resistance -> not that effective
e.g. Mayor Daley in Chicago a valuable political ally to Johnson

historian Irvin Bernstein said enforcement was "fatally defective"

LBJ does not stand for relection


Last public appearance was at a civil rights symposium
His own assessment was that there was still a long way to go

few weeks later dead
60% of those who paid respects passing by in Capital Rotunda were black

Kerner Commission released

February 1968

Investigating causes of 1967 race riots
blamed white racism above all

said "our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white - separate and unequal"

MLK's assassination

April 1968

Triggers more race riots
riots in 100 major cities
46 dead, 3k injured, 27k arrested


"there has never in history been an adequate black nation, and they are the only race of which this is true" -Nixon
=> didn't like black people that much

Nixon was "incredibly liberal" on civil rights

1950 - 1959

during the 50s

Nixon's presidency

January 1969 - August 1974

-did not want to meet black leaders
-opposed MLK's death being a national holiday
-increased expenditure on poverty programmes but also said he hated having to pretend sympathy for "all the welfare crap"

-ensured >300k companies with federal contracts employed a number of blacks proportionate to the size of the population
-social security and welfare payments 2x during his presidency

68% of Southern black children in segregated schools


Office of Minority Business Enterprise set up

March 1969

With an executive order

to encourage black activism

Nixon appoints Harrold Carswell to Supreme Court

May 1969

v much a racist -> against civil rights

Fred Hampton is assassinated

December 1969

during his sleep by CONTELPRO people
He was chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party
-> part of Nixon's brutal suppressing of the Black Panther Party
(and other radical black organisations)

Nixon amends the 1965 voting rights act

June 1970

Meaning that the shit on it that was meant to expire (ie should have happened) by this time could be further delayed

Griggs v. Duke Power Co.


Nixon didn't appear to oppose

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

April 1971

Refused to back the Supreme Court on this decision in favour of school desegregation being fully implemented that necessitated busing children long distances to ensure that schools were mixed

Equal Employment Opportunity Act


Nixon gave EEOC greater powers of enforcement through the courts
-> NAACP had flooded EEOC with protests over employment discrimination

Busing makes Southern schools America's best integrated


Despite Nixon funding white segregationist private schools

30% of blacks below poverty line


only 8% of black children in south in segregated schools

August 1974

(When Nixon leaves office)

Gerald Ford's presidency

August 1974 - January 1977

(who are ya)


First Southern president since Widrow Wilson

Hadn't challenged Jim Crow in his youth in Georgia. Said he was naive and unaware

When campaigning for governor of Georgia opposed busing
As governor, said Jim Crow was over + employed many blacks

Jimmy Carter's election campaign


Carter says he had "nothing against" a community "trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighbourhoods"
=> Jesse Jackson compared him to Hitler in response

Andrew Young appointed as US amassador to UN

January 1977

Young is black

Carter includes Patricia Roberts Harris in his cabinet


A black lady

Carter's presidency

January 1977 - January 1981

-Appointed more blacks + hispanics to the judiciary than any other president
-renewed voting rights acts
-ensured minority owned companies had fair share of government contracts
-deposited federal funds in minority-owned banks
-justice department power over voting rights
-strengthened EEOC

Black federal judges 4% of total


Bakke Supreme Court Case


SUPPORTS affirmative action but says that quotas are unconstitutional
=> Carter supports

Black federal judges 9% of total