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Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 386
Marcos Ancelovici

Feb 18 th Civil Rights Movement - Political process account of emergence, operation, and decline of movement - Focus on organizational resources and POS- static dimension of POS: institutionalized racism- Jim Crow laws- it is because blacks were organized out of politics that they had to engage in contentious politics; dynamic dimension of POS: explains tactics used, not emergence of movement because racism didn’t suddenly emerge, explains rise of movement - Dynamic dimension: demographic and structural changes, electoral realignments, new influential allies, positive state behaviour at federal level - All of these changes emerged gradually in the period between 1910-1950 Economic Context - Cotton economy of the American South- leading export commodity in the early 1900s, slavery was essential to economy of American South - Cotton was used by textile producers in North, who needed access to cheap cotton to become competitive in the global economy- needed cheap workforce in order to produce it cheaply - There was an alliance formed between textile producers in North and plantation owners in South - “Reconstruction”- rights of blacks- put on hold by this economic alliance- achieved relative emancipation of blacks, but did not go further - Did not want free blacks because they would be able to organize in trade unions and push wages up Political Context - End of Reconstruction period (1877) - Late 1800s/early 1900s: electoral competition between the populist movements and planter elite, in which none ever managed to secure a majority - Population owners and farmers blamed black voters for contributing to the stalemate, so they introduced new laws which prevented blacks from voting (electoral disenfranchisement), which rolled back previous concessions - These laws were a product of the political/economic context of the time period, not merely remnants from slavery - Law against black voting was not explicitly racist, but was in implementation because it barred illiterate from politics- poor blacks were overwhelmingly in this category and their further disenfranchisement prevented any more people from achieving voting status - Democrats wanted to get vote of plantation owners, so supported racist laws Demographic/Structural Changes - After WWI, immigration quotas were implemented, so less immigrants were coming in which created labour shortages in Northern factories - Northern industrialists saw a huge pool of black workers in South as the solution- this encouraged internal migration - Push/pull migration: push= decline of cotton industry so plantation owners had too many workers, pull= Northern industrialists offered jobs to South - So, 3 million blacks moved from South to North and patterns of increased rural migration emerged - This meant that there were more blacks in the North who were voting, which made it necessary for politicians to court the black vote by appealing to their concerns International Context - WWII- Americans were fighting Nazis, had to mobilize blacks to fight in war by saying, “we’re fighting for democracy”, yet how could they legitimately say this when they didn’t yet have democracy on home soil? Institutionalized racism was becoming increasingly hard to justify - Cold War- defending democracy against communism- again, problem of justification - Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) said that all people are equal The consequences of these contextual factors is a shift in the political opportunity structure - Elite cohesion was shattered, so the alliance between plantation owners and textile factories was demolished - Electoral realignment due to internal migration of blacks - Development of indigenous organizations (black churches and universities) - Occupational shift which led to rise in incomes-meant organizations were funded more (rise of urban black middle class) - Decrease of social violence against blacks due to decreased need to control them to keep them on the plantations (less need for workers) decreased the cost of collective action - Federal Supreme Court became more favourable to civil rights claims Actors - Historical actors (indigenous organizations- NAACP, black churches and schools, W.E.B. DuBois- 1 black person to graduate from Harvard) - New actors emerging as a consequence of shift in POS (CORE, SCLC-Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SNCC) - Actors on the margins (Nation of Islam- Malcom X) Local/Indigenous Organizations - Churches as the foundation of the civil rights movement in South- played a key role as local management centers which provided money, resources, staff, and meeting places for the movement - Significant growth of local chapters of NAACP- key role of NAACP Youth Council- participated in more contentious aspect of civil rights movement Shift in national politics provides an opening for blacks to mobilize on a mass scale-
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