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Race and Civil Rights

Selected and introduced by Peter C. Myers


The documents in the present volume present an extended series of reflections by black and white Americans on whether and how these two racial groups could come to coexist and thrive as fellow citizens in this country.  Picking up the story at the end of the Civil War, they tell of the long effort, stretching over 150 years and continuing through the present day, to bring an end to race-centric injustice in the United States. On that objective, framed in highly general terms, there is unanimity or near unanimity among the selections.  Descending from that high level of generality however, there are much variety and lively disagreement on more specific questions of ends and means.

Race and Civil Rights should be read in conjunction with the published volumes Slavery and Its Consequences and Gender and Equality. Together, they offer documentary evidence necessary for understanding and engaging thoughtfully in America’s ongoing debate over the meaning of equality.


Table of Contents

Documents include:

  • Robert Brown Elliott, Speech on the Proposed . . ., 1874
  • Ida B. Wells, “Self-Help,” 1892
  • Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903
  • A. Philip Randolph, “Why Should We March,” 1942
  • Senator Howard Smith et al., Southern Manifesto, 1956
  • Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” 1964
  • Loving v. Virginia, 1967
  • Clarence Thomas, Speech to the National Bar Association, 1998
  • Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union,” 2008
  • Black Lives Matter, Statements of Purpose, 2016
  • Robert L. Woodson, “The Crucial Voice of 1776,” 2020