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How the 1964 Civil Rights Act cost Black America

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How the 1964 Civil Rights Act cost Black America

To his credit, Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. admitted in a 1967 speech, a few months before he was assassinated, that integration and the Civil Rights Act had not delivered all he had hoped for.

Speaking in Chicago on 31 August 1967 at a meeting of the left-wing National Conference for New Politics, King stunned the audience when he did an about-turn and stated that integration had failed African-Americans and they ought to consider embracing segregation instead. “… There are times when we must see segregation as a temporary way-station to a truly integrated society,” Dr King said, abandoning his liberal, integrationist, “We Shall Overcome” politics. 

“There are points at which I see the necessity for temporary segregation in order to get to the integrated society … We don’t want to be integrated out of power – we want to be integrated into power,” King argued. And he went further. He praised the ghetto, which he described as a “domestic colony”, and he praised, too, the black people who had stayed in ghetto communities when others had escaped to former white suburbs.

“Black people must develop programmes that will aid in the transfer of power and wealth into the hands of ghetto residents, so that they may in reality control their own destinies,” King stated, sounding more radical than he had ever been before. King was right to question whether it was not dangerous for black people to put all their faith in integration. After all, recent studies show many US suburbs and towns have begun re-segregating, with the support and connivance of conservative judges on the US Supreme Court.

By and large, America’s big metropolitan areas have resisted re-segregation. Cities like New York and Washington DC are actually multi-racial oases of integration, where difference and diversity is welcomed.

In a cruel irony for the black middle classes who left the inner cities in the 1960s and 70s, many of the ghetto neighbourhoods they abandoned are among the most sought-after areas in cities like Washington DC and Chicago. Eager to experience city life, and fed up with the conservative suburbs they grew up in, young black, and white, professionals have begun moving to inner cities in large numbers. Homes there once available for a few thousand dollars now command prices upwards of a million dollars and more.

Unfortunately for the black professionals who set out 50 years ago to integrate white suburbs, they will not be able to benefit from the real estate boom taking place in their old neighbourhoods. They are stuck, thanks to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and integration, in distant, soulless and deadly dull suburbia. 

13 responses to “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act cost Black America”

  1. Author Thumbnail William Wooten says:

    Love life in Detroit.

  2. Author Thumbnail Bbstackr says:

    My Goodness, What an imagination! The rise in single parent families has brought about the rise in black poverty. The poverty rate in black households with married parents is less than 5%. What in the world does the Civil Rights Act have to do with black women
    not marrying the men who father their children? Did LBJ tell women to
    have families without fathers? Please explain how white devils prevent black women from marrying black men. Really, today, not 1860.

    • Author Thumbnail Jonathan Scott says:

      Empirical evidence shows the marriage rate is tied to the employment prospects of males. The decline in married African-American households follows the decline in employment for black males, not the other way around. Thus the question becomes, not what does the Civil Rights Act have to do with the decline of married black households, but what does the Civil Rights Act have to do with the decline of employment opportunities for African-American males.

      • Author Thumbnail Bbstackr says:

        The rate of black unemployment has been about double the rate of white unemployment since the 1940s. The Civil Rights act of 1964 did not change that. Care to try again?

      • Author Thumbnail Janice Jones Hutchinson says:

        This is an even better point. I should have done a little research.

    • Author Thumbnail Janice Jones Hutchinson says:

      I think the case made in the article is the removal of the cream of the crop in the neighborhoods robbed the poorer blacks of role models to pattern their lives. I am not sure that is the case , but I think this must be a great article if that is the weakest point you found in the whole 3 page article.

    • Author Thumbnail Margaret Housman says:

      WELFARE IS THE REASON. If you are black or white,married with children and one parent works you may not be eligible for food stamps,energy assistance,medicaid, or welfare funds. IF YOU are single with children the government supports you.

    • Author Thumbnail oldk says:

      As I understand it, the Civil Rights Bill would pay money to ladies with children only if the father was not at home. This financial incentive caused fathers to move out of the house.

  3. Author Thumbnail Janice Jones Hutchinson says:

    I could have written this article just from observation of what has happened to our communities in person and from the media. I desire long life only to see my people living as a proud, united people once again.

  4. Author Thumbnail Semicollegiate says:

    Natura non facit saltum (Nature does nothing in jumps)

    The Powers That Be like big sudden changes that don’t affect them. Big changes are usually disruptive to traditional ways and make folks depend more on the State.

    I could see the crosshairs coming into focus when I read that Dr. King said regroup and do it ourselves. The Powers That Be hate that.

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