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A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution
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A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution

Author: David A. Nichols
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       Eisenhower is often portrayed as an unwilling or passive participant in the Civil Rights movement. In decisive language, David A. Nichols demonstrates that these assumptions are mistaken. Drawing on archival documents, including newly available pages, Nichols takes a look at Eisenhower's work to desegregate the District of Columbia and complete the desegregation of the armed forces. We see how he appointed five pro-civil rights justices to the Supreme Court and progressive judges to lower courts, as well as his work crafting civil rights legislation, building a congressional coalition that passed the first civil rights act in eighty-two years, and maneuvering to avoid a showdown over desegregation of Little Rock Central High.

Nichols demonstrates that Eisenhower, though a product of his time and its backward racial attitudes, was actually more progressive on civil rights in the 1950s than his predecessor, Harry Truman, and his successors, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. More a man of deeds than of words and preferred quiet action over grandstanding, his cautious public rhetoric gave a misleading impression that he was not committed to the cause of civil rights. In fact, Eisenhower's actions laid the legal and political groundwork for the more familiar breakthroughs in civil rights achieved in the 1960s. 368 pages, paperback.


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