Social Change Is Written in the Streets

By Engler, Mark | New Internationalist, July/August 2014 | Go to article overview

Social Change Is Written in the Streets


Engler, Mark, New Internationalist


Fifty years ago, on 2 July 1964, American President Lyndon B Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act, which ended the systematic disenfranchisement of African-Americans in Southern states, followed the next year. Together, they represent some of the most significant bills to survive the US Congress in the past century.

Johnson tends to get a lot of credit for pushing through these laws. This April, President Obama and three of his predecessors - George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter - appeared at a Texas summit to commemorate the anniversary of the bills' passage. The event lauded the presidential contribution to civil rights history, with Obama underscoring Johnson's reputation as a legislative mastermind and hard-nosed negotiator.

Back in 2008, while running in the presidential primary, Hillary Clinton also highlighted Johnson's role, arguing that Martin Luther King's 'dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act'.

'It took a president to get it done,' she pointedly added.

Clinton's comment created a small firestorm. Critics felt that her valorization of White House power short-changed the citizens who risked their lives through years of mounting protests against Jim Crow racism - braving police dogs, fire hoses and Ku Klux Klan lynchings.

The problem with Clinton's statement is not that Johnson's part was insignificant: social change often requires the combined efforts of outside dissidents who make an issue a matter of heated public concern and inside reformers who translate that pressure into policy.

The problem is one of emphasis.

We know a lot about the processes of insider lawmaking. Our entire pundit class is focused on it. They glamorize the art of legislative armtwisting and validate the work of those oily enough to slide into mainstream politics.

Far less often do we seek to understand how social movements propel change. Yet the civil rights movement is one of the clearest examples we have of how dedicated activists forced politicians - Johnson included - to confront an issue they would have preferred to avoid.

Protests in Birmingham, Alabama, served as a key turning point. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Social Change Is Written in the Streets
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.