Santoro, Wayne A.. "The civil rights movement's struggle for fair employment: a "dramatic events--conventional politics" model *." Social Forces. University of North Carolina Press. 2002. HighBeam Research. 24 May. 2013 <http://www.highbeam.com>.
Santoro, Wayne A.. "The civil rights movement's struggle for fair employment: a "dramatic events--conventional politics" model *." Social Forces. 2002. HighBeam Research. (May 24, 2013). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-93207344.html
Santoro, Wayne A.. "The civil rights movement's struggle for fair employment: a "dramatic events--conventional politics" model *." Social Forces. University of North Carolina Press. 2002. Retrieved May 24, 2013 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-93207344.html
Conventional wisdom views segregationist violence, black protests, and black riots as largely responsible for the passage of breakthrough civil rights laws (Barkan 1984; Garrow 1978; McAdam 1982; Morris 1993; Piven & Cloward 1979). These dramatic events approaches are appealing because their claim that atypical events most efficaciously bring about breakthrough legislation seems reasonable. Yet these approaches largely ignore the role of conventional politics in the policymaking process, the most important of which is public opinion. Politicians want to be reelected, and they see voting in congruence with their constituents as an important way to achieve that goal (Kingdon 1989). Public opinion polls reveal that by the midsixties, nonsouthern whites favored the principle of nondiscrimination overwhelmingly. In terms of equal employment laws, for instance, Congress adopted major legislation in 1964, when 85% of whites favored equal employment treatment for blacks, and it enacted additional landmark legislation in 1972, when support had risen to 97% (Schuman et al. 1997). The apparent link between public opinion and policy outcomes suggests that public opinion is relevant to explaining civil rights legislation. In fact, Burstein (1985) has argued that public opinion played the central role in congressional sponsorship of equal employment bills. (1)
This study aims to situate the role of public opinion theoretically and empirically within the dramatic events literature on civil rights legislation. My approach seeks to explain the adoption of civil rights legislation that occurs across periods of insurgency and continues through periods of movement decline. My central claim is that the processes that produce civil rights responses are historically contingent. Dramatic events such as massive waves of black protests generate the first wave of civil rights laws (post-Reconstruction), especially breakthrough laws. These laws culminated in the enfranchisement of southern blacks and the outlawing of discrimination nationally in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The first wave of policy determinants and concessions, however, set in motion a sequence of events that both diminish the role of dramatic events and heighten the role of conventional political processes such as public opinion in subsequent civil rights legislation. This second wave of legi slation typically enhanced the enforcement powers or coverage of previous legislative initiatives. Thus, both dramatic events and public opinion are central explanatory factors, but their effects are sequential. Using time-series techniques, I examine the determinants of equal employment laws affecting race to assess the usefulness of this "dramatic events-conventional politics" approach. Understanding equal employment laws is important because fair employment was a long-standing goal of the civil rights movement (Sitkoff 1978) and because such legislation played an important role in enhancing the earnings of blacks (Burstein 1985). More generally, enhancing our understanding of the civil rights movement is important because arguably no other movement has been so influential in shaping social movement theory (Morris 1999).
Fair Employment History (1933-1972)
Congressional and executive responses to blatant racial discrimination by employers were long delayed and usually symbolic in nature. While Congress inserted nondiscrimination clauses into New Deal statutes beginning in 1933, no federal policy outlawed discrimination in government or private employment during the thirties. In 1940 President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order (EO) 8587, the first antidiscrimination mandate to cover federal civil service employment. But as with all federal responses until 1964, it did not cover the private workforce. One year later, A. Philip Randolph's threat to march on the capital persuaded Roosevelt to establish (EO 8802) the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) and to bar discrimination by defense contractors. The FEPC could investigate charges of employer discrimination, but the contracting agencies held the authority to cancel contracts. Roosevelt reorganized the FEPC in 1943 (EO 9346) and required a nondiscrimination clause in all war-related contracts and s ubcontracts. The FEPC was extended in 1945 (EO 9664), only for Congress to terminate the controversial committee a year later. The FEPC achieved some employment gains for African Americans (Ruchames 1953), but because it lacked the ability to impose sanctions, employers could and did ignore its fair employment orders (Norgren & Hill 1964).
Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower followed the course set by Roosevelt. Based on the recommendations of his Committee on Civil Rights (EO 9808), Truman in 1948 created (EO 9981) the Commission on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. The order relied on the newly created commission to persuade the armed services to end segregation voluntarily, a goal the army did not accomplish until the Korean War. Also in 1948, Truman established the Fair Employment Board (EO 9980) and empowered it to review allegations of discrimination within federal departments and to make nonbinding recommendations. Truman in 1951 established (EO 10308) the Committee on Government Contract Compliance to study the problem of discrimination by federal contractors. Eisenhower, in turn, issued three executive orders: in 1953 (EO 10479) he replaced Truman's contract committee with the Committee on Government Contracts; in 1954 (EO 10557) he standardized the nondiscrimination clause in federal contracts and required that contractors post public notice of their fair employment obligation; and in 1955 (EO 10590) he replaced Truman's employment commission with the Committee on Government Employment Policy.
Truman's and Eisenhower's actions did little to alleviate racial discrimination within the federal government and by federal contractors (Bonfield 1967; Hill 1977). The commissions they created had small staffs and operating budgets, and they lacked the authority to back up their findings with court-enforceable sanctions. No federal contractor had a contract canceled because of discriminatory practices during either administration (Burk 1984; McCoy & Ruetten 1973). Nonetheless, such presidential orders kept public the federal government's commitment to fair employment, and they continued antidiscrimination machinery into subsequent administrations.
Congressional responses were even more lacking than presidential actions. The House of Representatives passed a bill in 1950 that would have created a voluntary FEPC, but the bill died after a southern-led filibuster in the Senate. Ironically, the bill's main advocate in the House attempted to gain congressional support by assuring his colleagues that the bill did not outlaw prejudice (Congressional Quarterly 1950). Building on a 1956 House-passed bill, Congress in 1957 enacted the first civil rights act in eighty-two years. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, primarily a weak voting-rights act, established the Commission on Civil Rights, which could investigate the denial of equal protection. The commission first documented employment discrimination in its 1961 report and recommended at that time the creation of an equal employment agency with statutory power to enforce nondiscrimination in federal employment. Congress extended the life of the commission six times between 1959 and 1972.
Equal employment policies noticeably became more substantive in the sixties. In 1961 President John Kennedy issued EO 10925, the most far-reaching executive order to date. The order replaced Eisenhower's committees with the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. More important, the order specified sanctions such as debarment for contractor noncompliance that the committee itself could impose. The order also established affirmative action requirements in that federal contractors had to file compliance reports demonstrating to the committee their fair employment practices and to note their nondiscrimination obligation in all employee advertisements. In 1963 Kennedy extended (EO 11114) the order to include federally assisted construction contracts. Building upon Kennedy's affirmative action regulations, President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 granted (EO 11246) the secretary of labor the authority to sanction discriminatory contractors and authorized the Civil Service Commission to issue binding decisions in. feder al fair employment matters.
The most significant change took place in Congress, beginning with its adoption of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That title established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and, most important, outlawed discrimination for the first time in private employment. Title VII prohibited racial discrimination in the hiring, firing, compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. To secure the act's passage, however, Congress did not grant enforcement powers to the EEOC, nor did it cover subnational governments and educational institutions. To rectify these limitations, either the House or the Senate (but not both) over the next six years passed bills that would have allowed the EEOC to take recalcitrant employers to court (1966, 1970, 1971), to issue a court-enforceable cease-and-desist order (1966, 1970), or to extend Title VII coverage to subnational governments and educational institutions (1970). The culmination of the struggle came with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. The 1972 statute, signed by President Richard Nixon, extended Tide VII coverage to subnational governments and educational institutions and allowed the EEOC to litigate against private parties. Unfortunately for civil rights advocates, Congress did not grant the EEOC the power to issue a court-enforceable cease-and-desist order -- the most effective method of enforcing fair employment mandates. With minor changes (see Burstein 1985:216n, n.d.), the 1972 act solidified equal employment law affecting race in the U.S.
Explaining Civil Rights Legislation
DRAMATIC EVENTS APPROACHES
Within a resource mobilization framework (Jenkins 1983), the dominant approach to explain civil rights legislation argues that such acts came about from the generation of dramatic events by the civil rights movement and segregationists. Dramatic events are nonroutine actions that capture the attention of the public and policymakers and are perceived by these actors to be linked to a specific policy area. Observers of the civil rights movement point to three kinds of dramatic events that are linked to black civil rights: black protests, segregationist violence, and black riots. These dramatic events are seen as bringing about elite concessions because they broke down social order (Morris 1993), created electoral instabilities (Piven & Cloward 1979), generated embarrassing international media coverage during the Cold War (McAdam 1982), or raised the salience of civil rights issues for a sympathetic audience (Garrow 1978). (2)
Protests are collective attempts at social change that use noninstitutional forms of political influence, such as boycotts, sit-ins, pickets, and marches. Black protests first emerged in a communitywide and sustained manner with the successful bus boycotts in Baton Rouge (1953) and Montgomery (1955-56) (see Meier & Rudwick 1976 and Morris 1999 for protests before the fifties). The first massive wave of black protests across U.S. cities took place with the 1960 sit-in movement. At least ninety-three cities desegregated facilities as a direct result of the sit-ins (McAdam 1983), and Kennedy issued his comprehensive 1961 executive order the year after the sit-in movement. Similarly, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after the 1963 Birmingham and Birmingham-inspired demonstrations and enacted the 1965 Voting Rights Act shortly after the 1965 Selma demonstrations.
A number of scholars see civil rights legislation as a response to the violence …
Social Forces; March 1, 2003
Presidential Studies Quarterly; March 1, 2002
Political Research Quarterly; September 1, 2006
Nieman Reports; September 22, 2003
International Examiner; August 20, 2002
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