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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

By the time of the civil rights era, the quality and quantity of data available to portray racial attitudes increased substantially. There are more measures from a variety of different surveys, touching on a wider range of topics. However, there is a continued dearth of studies with adequate samples of African Americans, and the topics of survey questions continue to focus on issues of relevance, to a great extent, mainly to white Americans. Toward the close of the civil rights era, two important studies started to fill this void—one by Newsweek magazine and the Harris Poll, which conducted one of the first large-scale surveys of African American racial attitudes and a second in 1964 by Gary Marx, which captured the racial attitudes of blacks living in urban areas. On the one hand, these provide us a much richer portrait of what was going on in the hearts and minds of African Americans during this time period. This article turns to these data and asks how whites and blacks responded as direct and visible assaults on the exploitation and oppression of African Americans were launched by civil rights activists and their allies. These actions were guided largely by the nonviolent principles of protest, and by legal battles to dismantle the doctrine of separate but equal.

Keywords: civil rights era, racial attitude, African Americans, nonviolent principles, civil rights activist, color blind

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