The U.S. civil rights movement was one of our country’s most important democratizing efforts. But the United States continues to grapple with how to acknowledge and understand the uglier aspects of its undemocratic past.
Scholarship has mostly analyzed Jim Crow’s undemocratic nature by focusing on black disenfranchisement. The coercion and violence that enforced political disenfranchisement and economic subordination have received far less attention. This has influenced the public understanding of that period which holds that protests, legal challenges and the power of moral suasion dismantled a bad Jim Crow system.