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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 July 2009
On June 4, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave the commencement address at Howard University, the federally sponsored historic black college. In the last decade, Americans had become increasingly aware of the civil rights movement in American politics and society, and of the injection of the issues revolving around civil rights for black Americans into the national public discourse. President Johnson took a new angle of attack to the problem of discimination against black Americans. Instead of focusing on the political and legal aspects of Jim Crow legislation, or the constitutional struggles for civil rights in education and voting, or the plight of black Americans in the South, he spoke – with great passion – about the social and economic circumstances of African Americans throughout the nation, including those trapped in the large urban ghettos in the Northeast, the Middle West, and the West. “In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope,” he argued.
I thank Prof. Mary O. Furner, University of California, Santa Barbara; Prof. David M. Katzman, University of Kansas; Prof. Emeritus Henry D. Shapiro, University of Cincinnati; and Prof. Clarence E. Walker, University of California, Davis, for commenting on an earlier draft of this essay.
1. Harrington, Michael, The Other America: Poverty in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1962), passimGoogle Scholar.
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30. Davis, Allison and Havighurst, Robert J., Father of the Man: How Your Child Gets His Personality (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947)Google Scholar; and Kenneth Eells, Allison Davis, Robert J. Havighurst, Virgil E. Herrick, and Ralph W Tyler, under the chairmanship of Davis, Allison, Intelligence and Cultural Differences: A Study of Cultural Learning and Problem-solving (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951)Google Scholar. Quotation in Davis, Allison, Social-Class Influences upon Learning: The Inglis Lecture 1948 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948), 90Google Scholar.
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32. The works that came directly through the Carnegie Corporation's sponsorship as studies that accompanied Myrdal's book were Herskovits, Melville J., The Myth of the Negro Past (New York: Harper and Row, 1941)Google Scholar; Johnson, Charles S., Patterns of Negro Segregation (New York: Harper and Row, 1943)Google Scholar; Sterner, Richard, The Negro's Share (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944)Google Scholar; and Klineberg, Otto, ed., Characteristics of the American Negro (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944)Google Scholar.
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34. Gunnar Myrdal, with the assistance of Sterner, Richard and Rose, Arnold, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), quotations at 997, 1004, 1021, and 1024, respectivelyGoogle Scholar.
35. Parsons, Talcott, The Structure of Social Action, 2nd ed. (1937; rept. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1948)Google Scholar, was much more influential in its second than in its first edition, because its individualistic point of view, which came from Parsons's background as a laissez-faire classical economist before becoming a sociologist, was much more popular in the 1950s than in the 1930s and 1940s. See also Caplow, Theodore and McGee, Reece J., The Academic Marketplace (New York: Basic, 1958)Google Scholar, with an introduction by Jacques Barzun; and Amis, Kingsley, Lucky Jim: A Novel (New York: Viking, 1960)Google Scholar.
36. See, for example, President's Committee on Rights, Civil, To Secure These Rights (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1947)Google Scholar; Meier, August and Rudwick, Elliott, From Plantation to Ghetto, rev. ed. (1965; rept. New York: Hill and Wang, 1970), 251–98Google Scholar; Sitkoff, Harvard, The Struggle for Black Equality, 1954–1980 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981)Google Scholar; Jackson, , Gunnar Myrdal and America's Conscience, ch. 7Google Scholar; and Kluger, Richard, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975), 700–78Google Scholar.
37. Jackson, , Gunnar Myrdal and America's Conscience, chapters 5 through 8Google Scholar, covers in considerable detail the implications of Myrdal's message and how widely and broadly it was received.
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39. Pressly, Thomas J. provocatively argues that all the modern scholarly interpretations of the Civil War were first expressed by participants and contemporaries in the Civil War era (Americans Interpret Their Civil War [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949], passim)Google Scholar.
40. Tannenbaum, Frank, Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americas (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), 93, vii–ix, passimGoogle Scholar.
41. Dollard, John, Miller, Neal E., Doob, Leonard W., Mowrer, O. H., and Sears, Robert R. et al. , Frustration and Aggression (New Haven: Yale University Press, for the Institute of Human Relations, 1939)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barker, Roger, Dembo, Tamara, and Lewin, Kurt, Frustration and Regression: An Experiment with Young Children, Studies in Topological and Vector Psychology 2, University of Iowa Studies, Studies in Child Welfare, vol. 18, no. 1 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1941)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lippitt, Ronald, An Experimental Study of the Effect of Democratic and Authoritarian Group Structures, in Studies in Topological and Vector Psychology 2, University of Iowa Studies, Studies in Child Welfare, vol. 18, no. 1 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1940)Google Scholar; Lewin, Kurt and Lippitt, Ronald, “An Experimental Approach to the Study of Autocracy and Democracy: A Preliminary Note,” Sociometry 1 (1938): 292–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lewin, Kurt, “Field Theory and Experiment in Social Psychology: Autocratic and Democratic Group Atmospheres,” American Journal of Sociology 45 (1939): 26–49Google Scholar; Cravens, covers many of these developments in Before Head Start, 157–69, 188–91, 217–50Google Scholar; and Allport, Gordon, The Nature of Prejudice (New York: Macmillan, 1948)Google Scholar.
42. Elkins, Stanley M. discusses this literature, including Bettleheim, in Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life (1959; rept. New York: Grossett and Dunlap, 1963), 81–140Google Scholar
43. Meier, and Rudwick, , Black History (245–47 et seq.)Google Scholar, covers the reaction to Stampp, Kenneth M.'s The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-bellum South (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956)Google Scholar among white and black historians; indeed, their book should be followed carefully, for it is a bonanza of rigorously researched information, and I have relied upon it at many points in this essay.
47. Patterson, James T., Grand Expectations: The United States 1945–1974 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 375–406Google Scholar, is but one general survey of the period that cites a handful of key secondary accounts about the developing civil rights issue in the 1950s. The literature on that problem is, in fact, immense.
48. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954); Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896); and Kluger, , Simple Justice, 700–10Google Scholar.
49. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537–64, esp. 540–52.
50. Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, esp. 486–96. Warren did cite Myrdal, An American Dilemma (1944), as well as the research of black psychologist Kenneth Clark, whose work with dolls and young black children suggested that black children in segregated schools had serious self-esteem problems that hampered their ability to compete in the larger world — hence the victimization thesis.
51. Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, 349 U.S. 294 (1955), is the Brown II decision. See Patterson, James T., Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)Google Scholar, passim, in my judgment a rather too sanguine argument. On this point, see in particular Steel, Lewis M., “Separate and Unequal, by Design,” Nation 272 (02 5, 2001): 27–32Google Scholar.
52. Glazer, Nathan and Moynihan, Daniel Patrick, Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1963)Google Scholar, whose fundamental thesis was that there was no such thing as a melting pot: all groups remained apart from all others. Glazer, of course, wrote the introduction to the paperback edition of Elkins's book (cf. Elkins, , Slavery, ix–xviGoogle Scholar).
54. A provocative treatment of what happened to civil rights is Edsall, Thomas Byrne, with Edsall, Mary D., Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991)Google Scholar.
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