Educational progress for African-Americans and latinos in the United States from the 1950s to the 1990s: The interaction of ancestry and class

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction In the 1950s and 1960s the civil rights movement challenged the legal basis of American-style apartheid. Through civil disobedience, litigation, and legislation, activists and movement organizations riveted the nation's attention on the contradiction between Americans' professed belief in equal treatment and the country's history of racial exclusion. The public confrontation between these contradictions caused millions of Americans to rethink their exclusionary views (Schuman et al. 1998). The net result was that African-Americans' access to public education, voting rights, and public places increased. These changes in white people's outlooks and black people's opportunities raised the expectation in the African-American community - and in other quarters, too - that blacks and whites were on the road to equality. In the 1990s a countermovement pushed back the resources institutions had been using to increase access for African-Americans and people from other formerly excluded racial and ethnic groups. Under the rubric of “no preferences,” critics of affirmative action have used lawsuits, ballot initiatives, and other means to halt or halter the use of race as a criterion when evaluating candidates for education or employment. Much of the action in the civil rights movement and in the 1990s backlash has been in schools and universities. Civil rights activists and their opponents focus on education because it is the gateway to opportunity. Educational opportunity has been a resource for the propertyless of all ancestries at least since the nineteenth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthnicity, Social Mobility, and Public Policy
Subtitle of host publicationComparing the USA and UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489228
ISBN (Print)0521823099, 9780521823098
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this