Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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Evaluate the overall impact of the Civil Rights Movement. 

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The Civil Rights Movement had at least two very important main impacts.

First, there is the obvious impact on the rights of African Americans and others.  The Civil Rights Movement is perhaps most important for having corrected one of the major injustices of 20th century America.  Before the movement, African Americans were second-class citizens in many parts of the United States.  The movement did not solve all of their problems, but it did bring them legal equality, which is important in its own right.  It also helped inspire rights movements by many other groups.

Second, there is the less obvious impact on our political system.  One major legacy of the movement is our current situation in which the country is strongly divided politically along racial lines.  African Americans almost invariably vote Democratic.  Democratic candidates rarely win the majority of the white male vote.  This has come about in large part because of the positions on racial issues taken by the two parties during and since the Civil Rights Movement.

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