America’s history of racial inequality continues to haunt us. The genocide of Native people, 250-year enslavement of black people, adoption of “racial integrity laws” that demonized ethnic immigrants and people of color, and enforcement of policies and practices designed to perpetuate white supremacy are all part of our difficult past. This country has witnessed great triumph, innovation, and progress, but we are burdened by a painful history that we have yet to adequately acknowledge.
In the 1950s and 1960s, heroic civil rights activists staged a valiant revolt against racial inequality that compelled our nation to change some of its most racially offensive practices and policies. The Civil Rights Movement profoundly changed the character of American society and opened doors for people of color that had too long been barred by bigotry and ignorance. There has been substantial progress on a range of issues as a result of increased participation by non-white people in the political process. Diversity has become a demand that has strengthened the political, social, cultural, and economic landscape in significant and visible ways.
But the Civil Rights Movement also triggered mass opposition. In response to demands for equal rights, millions of white Americans made clear their determined, unwavering, and committed opposition to racial equality, integration, and civil rights. This entrenched commitment to white supremacy inspired an often violent rejection of racial justice that is frequently overlooked. Understanding the opposition to racial equality is the focus of this report because it is central to confronting the continuing challenges of racial inequality today.
[For more on this report, go to https://segregationinamerica.eji.org/report/]