Affirmative Action and Black Entrepreneurship

By Thomas D. Boston | Go to book overview
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OPPORTUNITY MATTERS

The evolution of affirmative action programs

During the 1950s, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered several important decisions that struck at the foundation of Jim Crow segregation. In 1954 the Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas that racial segregation in elementary public education is unconstitutional. In 1955 and 1956, it ruled in the cases of Mayor of Baltimore v.Dawson and of Gayle v.Browder that racial discrimination in access to public beaches and public buses is unconstitutional. Then, in 1958, the Court outlawed discrimination in access to public parks in the case of New Orleans City Park Association v. Detiege. Finally, in 1963, the Court even had to ban discrimination in access to state courtrooms in the case of Johnson v. Virginia.

These legal victories fueled social protest movements during the 1960s and civil rights demonstrations, sit-ins and freedom rides, and boycotts swept the South. By the mid-1960s urban rebellions engulfed the inner cities of the North. Faced with this growing racial discontent, President Lyndon Johnson persuaded Congress to address the nation’s 300-year-old legacy of racial discrimination.

Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act authorizing the Attorney General to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment had been adopted in 1868 to prevent states from denying equal protection to freed slaves. Titles II and III of the 1964 Act forbade discrimination in public accommodation. Title IV authorized the Attorney General to implement the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed segregated public educational facilities.

In 1965, the federal government attacked employment discrimination with Executive Order 11246. 1 This Order and its

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