IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA
REVOLUTIONARY NOTIONS OF UNIVERSAL RIGHTS INFORMED AND inspired social activism after World War II. During the Civil Rights Era, as never before, all three branches of government advanced the principle of universal equality embedded in the Declaration of Independence: Congress passed a variety of laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, providing federal recourse against discriminatory practices; the Executive Branch desegregated the military and interstate transportation; and the Supreme Court asserted its role in protecting individuals against prejudice born of stigma and stereotype.
The 1960s were a period of the greatest advances in civil rights since the Reconstruction Era. The patriotic furor against communism led to widespread evaluation of whether the United States was true to the anti-authoritarian and human rights legacy of the Declaration of Independence.
Long after natural rights philosophy had gone out of vogue in the United States, the statement of national purpose in the Declaration of Independence remained the benchmark for representative governance. The failure to address injustices, such as lynching, employment discrimination,