Date of Defense

Fall 9-23-2011

Date of Graduation

Spring 4-28-2012

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Ashlyn Kuersten, Political Science

Second Advisor

David Houghton, Political Science

Abstract

When looking at major policy change that occur within the United States, the change is often wrought by a specific interest group that has adequate funding, the ability to manipulate legislators, a prominent leader to become the face of their movement and they often use the media to bring attention to their issue. However, when looking at the Civil Rights Movement, it becomes apparent that the major policy changes within the area of African American civil rights is an anomaly. An undereducated, repressed minority was able to band together with little financial backing or national support and change the course of public policy within the United States. As a result, it was a perfect storm of sorts, where national sentiment about the plight of the African American changed, banding underneath high-profile leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., to force substantive changes from the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. This unique combination of forces has never before been seen within the United States, and it is unlikely that it will be seen again. While the African American community has a long way to go until they have renounced oppression completely and all Americans accept man as equal, regardless of the color of their skin, major policy changes occurred during the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s that allowed the African American community to begin to find equality within the United States.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

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