Having defeated de jure segregation in the South and achieved most of their legislative goals by the end of 1965, the major civil rights organizations became divided as they sought a new direction for the black freedom struggle. At an SCLC conference in August 1965, James Bevel declared: ‘There is no more civil rights movement. President Johnson signed it out of existence when he signed the Voting Rights Bill’.1 The long-awaited victories of the recent past now seemed insufficient. Although the legal barriers to equality had been abolished, the majority of black Americans did not have the economic resources to take full advantage of the opportunities now available to them. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did little to change the oppressive living conditions in the ghettos of the North, where millions of impoverished blacks were plagued by de facto segregation, unemployment, inadequate housing and schools, family deterioration and police brutality. The advances of the previous decade had not resolved the American Dilemma; in fact, its resolution would require deeper social and economic changes than most white Americans were willing to tolerate. Public opinion polls in 1966 indicated that increasing numbers of whites were opposed to the recent progress of the black American.
KeywordsDust American Ideal Explosive Assure Defend
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