As the 1960s drew to a close, civil rights activists recognized that blacks had made tremendous strides. Yet they equally noted that great inequalities persisted. As the economy stagnated and the nation's mood became more conservative, many blacks remained trapped in large ghettos and some studies suggested that they were falling further and further behind the white and black middle class. Perhaps Gerald David Jaynes and Robin M. Williams (eds.) in A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society ( Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989) put it best:
Just five decades ago, most black Americans could not work, live, shop, eat, seek entertainment or travel where they chose. Even a quarter a century ago--100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863-- most blacks were effectively denied the right to vote. A large majority of blacks lived in poverty, and very few black children had the opportunity to receive basic education.... Today the situation is very different.... Yet, the great gulf that existed between black and white... has only been narrowed. It has not been closed. One of three blacks still live in... poverty. Even more blacks live in areas where ineffective schools, high rates of dependence on public assistance, severe problems of crime and drug use, and law and declining employment prevail. (p. 3)
The selections in this chapter review the achievements of the civil rights movement and make recommendations for further courses of action. A number of the pieces raise themes that were raised on the eve of the civil rights movement.