In Chapter 17, of A People's History of the United States, how does government respond to the Civil Rights Movement?
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Zinn argues that the national government responds to the Civil Rights Movement by doing just enough to keep the movement from becoming truly revolutionary. He argues that the government manipulated and used moderate leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. as a way of ensuring that the basic power structure of the US would not be affected.
Zinn gives, as an example of this, the famous 1963 "March on Washington." He says that it was supposed to be much more confrontational, with protestors tying up government offices and even lying on airport runways. He argues that the government (notably John and Robert Kennedy) got King and other leaders to tone down the protest. He says the government gave the protest its official support, but at the cost of making it a much less confrontational and revolutionary act.
Zinn argues, then, that the government simply coopted the Civil Rights Movement to prevent it from creating real change.
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