Friday, July 09, 2004

CRA 1964 Discussion

La Shawn Barber has shared a column she wrote about the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. La Shawn contends the groundbreaking legislation, which was designed to eliminate racial barriers is:

"like a long-forgotten song. Some of the words occasionally come to mind, and you might remember a few bars of the melody. But it fades away again, retreating to the recesses of your memory.

For all it's worth in 2004, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) is probably obsolete. A high point of the Civil Rights movement, the CRA has become irrelevant, thanks to the existence of skin color preferences hiding behind "affirmative action." Ambitious in purpose and far-reaching in scope, the CRA was not quite impressive enough for social engineers."


La Shawn has provided a nice history of the CRA and it's predecessors. I wanted to put in my two cents worth.

I believe military experience bears much of the responsibility for the success of civil rights legislation.

La Shawn mentions a Presidential Order in 1941, by Franklin Roosevelt, which made discrimination illegal in the military. The creation of several "Colored" combat units came upon the heels of this order. Until then, blacks in the military acted only as cooks and stevedores.

The vast majority of "colored units" performed with distinction during WWII. Prejudices began to melt, slowly. In Korea, a black replacements began to be sent to "white units" during the latter part of the war. Most black soldiers still served in black units, however, the idea of monumental differences between blacks and whites was beginning to wear thin. Despite all of the problems, which come with decades of ignorance of one another, it is hard to dislike someone who saved your butt in combat. You may have even gotten a unit or two of blood from someone of a different color.

During the years between WWII and the end of the Korean War, the military branches slowly began chipping away at segregation of the forces. The reasons for segregation were becomming less relevant, as most of them proved to be false. Integration in the Armed Forces was complete in October 1954, when the last segregated unit was deactivated.

After their experiences in a desegregated military, veterans were less likely to tolerate the limitations of segregation in the civilian world. I believe this was the beginning of real progress, which led to the CRA and other legislation.

I agree with La Shawn that the CRA is obsolete by now, and the reasons why. Racism is still alive and well in America. It is alive in the universities, which give preference to students based upon skin color. It is alive in corporate America, where diversity programs and sensitivity training is all the rage. It is alive in the organizations, which foster and perpetuate victimhood.

Why do we tolerate it?

God Bless America

1 Comments:

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I think you're absolutely correct about the military model Joel. The military has always seemed to be a couple of steps ahead of the civilian world in matters of race and equality. The military runs as the rest of the world should...on merit.

 

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