Study Questions

  • What forces led to the end of de jure segregation? To what extent was this change a result of broad social forces (e.g., industrialization), and to what extent was it the result of the actions of African Americans acting against the system (e.g., the southern civil rights movement)? By the 1960s and 1970s, how had the movement for racial change succeeded, and what issues were left unresolved? What issues remain unresolved today?

  • Describe the differences between the southern civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. Why did these differences exist? How are the differences related to the nature of de jure versus de facto segregation? Do these movements remain relevant today? How?

  • How does gender affect contemporary black-white relations and the African American protest movement? Is it true that African American women are a “minority group within a minority group”? How?

  • According to an old folk saying: “When America catches a cold, African Americans get pneumonia.” Evaluate this idea using the information, data, and analysis presented in this chapter. Is it true? Exaggerated? Untrue? What other kinds of information would be needed for a fuller assessment of the quote? How could you get this information?

  • What are the implications of increasing class differentials among African Americans? Does the greater affluence of middle-class blacks mean they are no longer a part of a minority group? Will future protests by African Americans be confined only to working-class and lower-class blacks?

  • Regarding contemporary black-white relations, is the glass half empty or half full? Considering the totality of evidence presented in this chapter, which of the following statements would you agree with? Why? (1) American race relations are the best they’ve ever been; racial equality has been essentially achieved (even though some problems remain), or (2) American race relations have a long way to go before society achieves true racial equality.