In 1948 President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military.
The backlash to Truman’s civil rights policies contributed to the unraveling of the solid Democratic South.
In no uncertain terms, the court required that representation in federal and state legislatures be based substantially on population. Carr upheld lawsuits that challenged districts apportioned to enforce voting discrimination against minorities. Sanders invalidated Georgia’s county unit voting system, giving rise to the concept “one man, one vote.” Two decisions in 1964, Wesberry v. In Reynolds the Supreme Court solidified the “one man, one vote” concept in an 8 to 1 decision that expressly linked the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause to the guarantee that each citizen had equal weight in the election of state legislators.
Howard Smith of Virginia, chairman of the House Rules Committee, routinely used his influential position to thwart civil rights legislation.
A faction of southern Democrats, upset with the administration’s efforts, split to form the States’ Rights Democratic Party, a conservative party that sought to preserve and maintain the system of segregation.
Also known as the Dixiecrats, they nominated South Carolina Governor—and future U. Senator—Strom Thurmond as their presidential candidate in 1948. Eisenhower, largely cautious and incremental in his approach, followed FDR’s pattern.Yet while they were determined, energetic, and impassioned, there were too few African Americans in Congress to drive a policy agenda. Black Members had different legislative styles, different personalities, and disagreed as to the best method to achieve civil rights advances.Some followed the party line while others took their cues from activists outside Congress.During the period from the end of World War II until the late 1960s, often referred to as America’s “Second Reconstruction,” the nation began to correct civil and human rights abuses that had lingered in American society for a century.A grassroots civil rights movement coupled with gradual but progressive actions by Presidents, the federal courts, and Congress eventually provided more complete political rights for African Americans and began to redress longstanding economic and social inequities.Though hesitant to override the states on civil rights matters, President Eisenhower promoted equality in the federal arena—desegregating Washington, DC, overseeing the integration of the military, and promoting minority rights in federal contracts. Supreme Court, by an 8 to 1 vote, outlawed the white primary, which, by excluding blacks from participating in the Democratic Party primary in southern states, had effectively disenfranchised them since the early 1900s.Sworn in to the United States Senate on January 3, 1967, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (second from right) became the first black Senator since 1881. A decade later, the high court under Chief Justice Earl Warren handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v.The alliance of conservative southern Democrats and Republicans in Congress who successfully blocked many of Truman’s initiatives is portrayed by the worm labeled “Coalition.” During the 1940s and 1950s, executive action, rather than legislative initiatives, set the pace for measured movement toward desegregation. Truman “expanded on Roosevelt’s tentative steps toward racial moderation and reconciliation,” wrote one historian of the era.Responding to civil rights advocates, Truman established the President’s Committee on Civil Rights.To serve as his Attorney General, he appointed Herbert Brownell, a progressive to whom he gave wide discretion.Eisenhower also appointed California Governor Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the U. Supreme Court in 1953, preparing the way for a series of landmark civil rights cases decided by the liberal Warren court.