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056 - Thematic Session. 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Sat, August 16, 10:30am to 12:10pm, TBA

Session Submission Type: Invited Session


The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was represented a critical juncture in the United States, not only because it outlawed many forms of discrimination in various institutional settings, but also because it became a point of departure for scholarship about law, race, civil and human rights. Its passage represents what legal scholars, social scientists, policy makers and activists signal as a momentous historical moment for social and legal change. Scholars have viewed this legislation as the landmark legal action which transitioned the United States from a legal racial dictatorship, into an era of formal legal equality. To be sure, many scholars of law and inequality have articulated how and why this legislation was not enough to end the persistent racial inequality which still marks the U.S. social structure. Yet there is general (though often tacit) agreement that the political and legal actions leading to and codified in the Civil Rights Act represented a historically significant social shift. 50 years later, this panel sets out to interrogate the contours of that shift through a retrospective look at the Civil Rights Act, the way the Act has been legally construed and interpreted by U.S. Courts in the past half-century, and the effects of this legislation on the lives of U.S. citizens and racial hierarchy. We propose a session that facilitates a nuanced discussion about the enormous potential, successes, and failures of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; a discussion informed by the Act’s stated goal, the end of discrimination in institutions on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion and sex, as well as its broader ideological promise – social change, in particular the dismantling of structural racial oppression.

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