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Civil Rights Movement in America - Essay Example

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Despite popular opinion, America has failed black Americans since the 1960s despite the Civil Rights Movement and its resulting legislation. Due in large part to the federal government's lack of initiative, black Americans face deficits in housing, education, and employment…
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Civil Rights Movement in America
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Download file to see previous pages When it did, he was careful not to lose support from southern politicians by enforcing overly-liberal policies (Patterson, 2001, p. 122-123). This Democratic lack of action was still apparent over thirty years later when President Clinton placed the onus for reform on individual Americans, calling for change in "our minds and our hearts," rather than expending federal funds and energy to bring about change (Klinkner, 1999, p. 27). As a result, government interest in reform has disintegrated while its efforts for populace control have grown "through increased spending on the military, police, prison building, and mechanisms for surveillance" (Giroux, 2004, p. 212).
When the government has acted on civil rights, it has often been a pale or nonexistent effort. In the summer of 1997, Clinton formed him Presidential Initiative on Race as a think-tank on how to address race and racial inequality. Steven A. Holmes quoted panel member Thomas Kean in The New York Times as stating, "There is a timidity on this question [of race] We were not encouraged to be bold." (as cited in Klinkner, 1999, p. 26-27). Clinton showed his concern for reform in word, but not in deed. Similarly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was formed following the passage of Title VIII to receive housing complaints, but was not given to authority to act on them. This allowed the government to "do something" about unfair housing without any real action (Judd, 1999, p. 136). In fact, according to Giroux, the overall effect of modern conservatism has been to silence "any discussion of race in mainstream national politics by insisting on colorblind public policy" (2004, p. 179).
There are several instances in which the federal government has specifically shirked its responsibility to remedy racial inequalities. This was very apparent during the Reagan administration, when the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement came "to a standstill" (Fairclough, 2001, p. 332). Rather than citing governmental intervention as a possible solution, Regan claimed that it had been a problem, and went on to denounce student busing and attempt to eliminate the Department of Education (Patterson, 2001, p. 171), successfully pulling federal government away from domestic issues that sorely needed attention. His administration further claimed that "big government handouts had corrupted black communities by creating generations of cheats characterized by laziness, drug addiction, sexual excess, and a general taste for criminality and violence" (Giroux, 2004, p. 189). Even the Democratic Clinton administration rolled back government responsibility with its budget compromise of 1997, in which Clinton cut Medicare and Medicaid and endorsed tax cuts that mainly benefited wealthy Americans. In this one act, Clinton had practically undone the reform created by Roosevelt's New Deal (Klinkner, 1999, p. 11).
Presidential administrations, however, have not been alone in turning their backs on racial equality; the judicial branch, since its rightward drift beginning with Nixon's presidency, has also negated the government's role in domestic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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