Friday, January 14, 2005

Snapshots in Time

Snapshots in Time:

“One of the most sweeping changes of the past 50 years has been in race relations. But while the victories of the civil rights movement may seem inevitable now, they certainly didn't seem so at the time. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling and the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Public Agenda looks back at what the public believed as history was being made.”

In the America of the 1950s, surveys found the public did not rush to embrace Brown vs. Board of Education. The Gallup poll found a majority (55 percent) approved of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down segregation in public schools, but a substantial 40 percent did not. Over the next few years the number who approved increased a little, to about six in 10. Five years later, in 1959, half the public told Gallup that they didn't believe Southern states would integrate schools without the Brown ruling (only 35 percent said they would). But Gallup also found more than half (53 percent) who said the Brown decision “caused a lot more trouble than it was worth.”

That view may have been partly based on the 1957 Little Rock crisis, where the federal government sent the Army to integrate schools over the resistance of Arkansas leaders. Some 58 percent approved of President Eisenhower's handling of the situation. But the public was divided on whether the federal government was putting too much pressure on school integration: 33 percent said too much, 34 percent said it was about right and 19 percent said the government wasn't doing enough…
con·cept: Snapshots in Time