When American children are taught about the Civil Rights Era, the focus tends to be on laws like Jim Crow, people like Bull Connor and Martin Luther King Jr., and issues like equality and justice. The thinking goes today, to simplify the reasoning on the right and among libertarians, that those times were long ago, the laws are gone, Bull Connor and his ilk are long dead, and we have fairness before the law and everything else is just a matter of applying oneself now.
But the changes from those times have, in fact, been gradual. There’s nothing to indicate, and certainly no defining moment, when racism ceased to be a problem for blacks and other minorities in America. Coming as far as the nation has in a relatively short amount of time is impressive, given the way racism was ingrained in the American culture, politics, and education. But part of that progress was due to the explicit societal and governmental acknowledgement that laws and society made life very unfair for a segment of the population. We’re getting to a point where that recognition is becoming less and less obvious, and the remnants of centuries of racism linger and continue to affect millions of Americans.
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