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Race and Liberty in AmericaThe Essential Reader$
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Jonathan Bean

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125459

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125459.001.0001

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Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era

Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era


(p.184) (p.185) 6 Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era
Race and Liberty in America

Jonathan Bean

University Press of Kentucky

During the civil rights era, federal courts ruled various forms of segregation unconstitutional, thus infuriating southern conservatives. A Republican Senate refused to seat a notorious racist, and subsequent congresses passed Civil Rights Acts protecting voting rights and overturning segregation. President Dwight D. Eisenhower played a great role in the desegregation of Washington, DC (1953), and the Brown v. Board decision (1954). President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill passed by a bipartisan congressional coalition, over the opposition of southern Democrats. Classical liberals believed state-sponsored discrimination was a problem. Federal laws that struck down such discrimination were not only constitutional but appropriate for achieving individual freedom from state interference. White supremacy by government fiat violated classical liberal principles. On the other hand, classical liberals opposed laws that limited an individual's freedom of association or that required him to prefer one race over another.

Keywords:   classical liberals, conservatives, Civil Rights, Eisenhower, Brown v. Board, desegregation, discrimination, individual freedom

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