You can also listen to the interview [MP3 2.2MB].
Welcome to After the Dream, which examines the social, economic, and political implications of events in America’s South following the civil rights movement of the mid 1960s, and the ongoing struggle for black equality.
In part four, Professor Timothy Minchin discusses the effects of the civil rights movement on public accommodation.
- Professor Timothy Minchin:
The public accommodation area was the one where the legislation was the most effective, and it’s an area that does relate to King’s dream, because what he talked about in the dream was whites and blacks being able to sit down together and enjoy each other’s company, and for segregation to be removed.
That’s an area where there has been a lot of progress. Relatively quickly after the 1964 civil rights act the signs of whites and coloured came down in restaurants and other public facilities. Although there was some problem and some resistance, particularly in rural areas, in general this was a change that was one of the easier ones that were made. In other areas, particularly in employment discrimination and schooling, where the white resistance was much greater.
I think in some ways the laws changed, but it took the attitudes much longer to change. The laws forced the signs to come down but it couldn’t necessarily force the people to change their attitudes. And if you didn’t want to dine with African-Americans or socialise with them, you could avoid those facilities. You could boycott them or stay away, which some whites did. And also, some of them tried to set up private clubs. This was quite a common trend in the mid to late 1960s, setting up private clubs on an all-white basis, a technique that also got tackled through the courts and was largely struck down, but nevertheless was a way for whites to avoid contact with blacks socially, and show that the attitudes hadn’t really changed.
‘After the Dream: Black and White Southerners since 1965’ is the book co-authored by Professor Timothy Minchin with Professor John Salmond. It is published by the University of Kentucky Press and is available from all good book stores. Listen in next week , when Tim and John will discuss the effects the civil rights movement had on voting rights. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org