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January 15, 2008

Putting civil rights history in historical perspective

As I hope many class members realize, the hottest political topic right now relates to the Democratic in-fighting over the history of the Civil Rights Act.  Though there is lots of interesting aspects of this on-going story, I thought this article provides a thoughtful (and student-friendly) discussion of what the author calls "the historical record."

January 15, 2008 in Interesting outside readings | Permalink


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My comment (#68) copy and pasted from the original blogpost:

The main point of contention in this 67-comment-long debate has been Hillary's intent. Did she mean that both the political catalyst and government-head were necessary for reform, or was there a nuanced, normative comparison? In the court of law, intent is at the heart of all decisions, whether the case be legislative, criminal, or contractual in nature. Does the same rule apply in the court of public opinion? A brief look at the discourse in response to this pundit's interpretation of Senator Clinton's comments would support an answer in the positive. Each and all respondents are willing to hang/praise the Senator and the pundit for the intent behind their words. It is of little doubt that both Dr. King and President Johnson took great effort towards implementing the Civil Rights Act. Is it of any importance who's intent was more noble? It is also true that members of congress originally amended the bill to protect for sexual discrimination with the intent of making the bill controversial enough to never be passed. Is that relevant today? Ultimately, it was the passage of legislation that made the real difference that we can see since the enactment: a black man and a white woman both with a strong candidacy for president. That could not have been achieved without both King and Johnson. Despite Hillary's intent behind her comments and Mr. Wilentz's motivation behind writing the article, let us concede that Wilentz's historical account is correct. It would be a shame to let your views of Clinton and Wilentz (although perhaps valid) skew your understanding that legislation reform requires many different parties, oftentimes with conflicting motivations, and each is just as integral to the process.

Posted by: D. Slaybod | Jan 16, 2008 7:15:01 PM

More historical perspective from one of my favorite sources:

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 18, 2008 1:26:41 PM


I just thought I'd add this discussion with Bill Clinton for those who missed it.

Posted by: Erin Butcher | Jan 25, 2008 2:36:54 PM

I just thought I'd add this discussion with Bill Clinton for those who missed it.

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