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Race and Civil Rights

Selected and introduced by Peter C. Myers

Overview & List of Documents

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.

  • Frederick Douglass, “What the Black Man Wants,” January 26, 1865
  • Robert Brown Elliott, Speech on the Proposed Civil Rights Bill, January 6, 1874
  • Strauder v. West Virginia, March 1, 1880
  • Civil Rights Cases, October 15, 1883
  • Albion Tourgée, An Appeal to Caesar, 1884
  • Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South, 1892
  • Ida B. Wells, “Self-Help,” 1892
  • Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, September 18, 1895
  • Plessy v. Ferguson, May 18, 1896
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903
  • W. E. B. Du Bois, “An Address to the Country,” August 19, 1906
  • Booker T. Washington, “My View of Segregation Laws,” December 2, 1915
  • James Weldon Johnson, Along this Way, 1933
  • Bayard Rustin, “Nonviolence versus Jim Crow,” July 1942
  • A. Philip Randolph, “Why Should We March,” November 1942
  • Brown v. Board of Education, May 16, 1954
  • Senator Howard Smith et al., Southern Manifesto, March 12, 1956
  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Statement of Purpose, April 17, 1960
  • Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” April 3, 1964
  • Rev. Joseph H. Jackson, “Participating in the Struggle of America,” September 1964
  • Bayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement,” February 1, 1965
  • Daniel P. Moynihan, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, March 1965
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, “To Fulfill These Rights,” June 4, 1965
  • Black Panther Party, “Ten Point Program,” May 15, 1967
  • Loving v. Virginia, June 12, 1967
  • Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and Charles Hamilton, Black Power, 1967
  • Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, February 29, 1968
  • Roy Wilkins, “Voluntary Segregation—A Disaster,” March 1969
  • Griggs v. Duke Power Company, March 8, 1971
  • Jesse Jackson, “The Rainbow Coalition,” Speech to the Democratic National Convention, July 18, 1984
  • Thurgood Marshall, “Reflections on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution,” May 6, 1987
  • Clarence Thomas, Speech to the National Bar Association, July 28, 1998
  • Grutter v. Bollinger, June 23, 2003
  • Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union,” March 18, 2008
  • Black Lives Matter, Statements of Purpose, 2016
  • Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi: “Herstory” 
  • M4BL Movement for Black Lives: “A Vision for Black Lives: Preamble”
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Our Founding Ideals of Equality and Liberty Were False When They Were Written...” August 18, 2019
  • Robert L. Woodson, “The Crucial Voice of 1776,” February 13, 2020