In 1870, Congress ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to black people. This angered remaining Confederate sympathizers, who chose to work around the law creatively. Their first effort, to keep non-white people from the polls, failed with the creation of the Department of Justice, which was literally created to enforce equal voting rights. 

The second and more successful effort, in very similar fashion of President Nixon’s later “War on Drugs” was the divide and conquer technique: white politicians loudly proclaiming that the black people wanted to take advantage of the white man’s tax money to create social systems that help themselves without actually doing any work (a belief still being used as an excuse to destroy the welfare system). This divisive strategy succeeded in segregating people by skin color from more than just voting; it segregated every aspect of American life. 

In June of 1963, the racist fear-mongering was so blatant that Alabama’s Governor, George Wallace, promised to maintain “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” His statement prompted President Kennedy to present the Civil Rights Act to Congress. It finally became ratified after President Kennedy’s assassination. 

Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

John Lewis’ Good Trouble



The Fifteenth Amendment

Alabama Governor George Wallace’s “Segregation Forever” speech transcript

National Archives – Civil Rights Act of 1964


Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of Past and Present Social Issues in America

The History of the Civil Rights Movement: A History Book for New Readers

Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis and Michael D’Orso