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February 18, 2016
More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, and more than 50 years since the civil rights movement, civil rights are still not a given for African-Americans in the United States.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s sought to end the racial segregation and discrimination against African-Americans that persisted since the Civil War. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on race, among other factors, and ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, workplaces and public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored and protected voting rights, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.
It seemed a step forward when Black History Month was recognized by the United States government in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial. But to this day, debates continue about the usefulness and fairness of designating a month to the history of one race. Critics argue Black History Month facilitates a lack of integration of black history into mainstream education during the rest of the year and oversimplifies complex historical figures into objects of hero worship.
Matthew Johnson, an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University Department of History, specializes in social movements with research exploring the institutional implementation of the civil rights movement. He teaches courses on the history of dissent, mass incarceration and human rights. He previously served as the James Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Civil Rights and Social Justice at the University of Mary Washington.
Matthew Johnson, assistant professor, email@example.com
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