Black Political Participation in the 1980’s: Challenged by Conservatism
By Alex Willingham
Vol. 4, No. 4, 1982, pp. 5-11
Assessing the state of black politics today requires a fundamentally different approach from what would have been appropriate even ten years ago. For one thing we have the administration of Ronald Reagan which seeks to curb federal policies designed to promote racial advancement. For another, there has been a significant increase in black political power throughout the country.
We are now confronted with new problems: the recruitment and staying power of black candidates; performance in public office; rates of participation among the general black population, and white response to the exercise of political authority by blacks. Where, in years past, American liberalism has pegged the quality of its racial commitment to its own ability to deliver (i.e., through appeals to the national conscience and through federal enforcement), now the vitality of American liberalism itself is dependent on the effective participation of this newly enfranchised group.
Nowhere has the change been more dramatic than in the American South, long the laboratory for creating structures to retard equal participation and still the symbol of white supremacy in politica. During the 1970’s, Atlanta, Memphis and Houston each sent blacks to Congress. In each case the election reflected successful coalitions and broke patterns that had prevailed since Reconstruction. From beyond these Southern cities came a further message. Important changes began to appear in the towns and rural places where hard-core opposition to black participation remains and where the appeal of white racial politics has been strongest.
The potential of black politics must be understood against an uncertain background in which levels of participation stand to be lowered by threats to the rules that are supposed to protect and reward participation. The Reagan Administration’s threats represent a single-minded effort to radically redirect the energies of government. Insofar as this effort succeeds, civil rights enforcement will suffer. Clearly, the President intends to lead the federal government out of its established role in promoting equal opportunity.
Reagan’s actions reverse a trend in executive behavior going back at least to Executive Order Number 8802–a wartime measure signed by Franklin Roosevelt prohibit-
ing discriminatory hiring by federal defense contractors. Over the next four decades the role of the federal executive remained integral to the liberalization of race relations. It was a forceful complement to Congressional legislation and court decisions and resulted in a formidable array of orders, laws and decisions. Signed by Lyndon Johnson during his presidency, Executive Order Number 1124 updated and expanded the earlier Order and created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The first direct action on civil rights by the Reagan Administration was to weaken the OFCCP.
Characteristically, the New Right and the Reagan candidacy recognized the systematic forcefulness of civil rights protections. During the presidential campaign and the transition period, special attention was devoted to developing a nullification strategy which did not overlook the “civil rights establishment.” Consequently, there was a successful effort to place into key executive positions people who accepted the charge to dismantle the enforcement mechanism.
Is Ronald Reagan a Racist?
The retreat from enforcement is qualitatively different from the espousal of crude white race supremacy. The Administration claims that the status of American minorities is a by-product of the economy. Once formal assumption of biological equality is made, so the argument goes, no strictly racial attention is necessary. A troubled economy becomes the reason for citizen dissatisfaction. Salvation of that economy means less government activity. “Supply side” economics describes government activity as intrusive and burdensome. Because the growth of public agencies is seen as intrinsically negative, maintenance of adequate enforcement activity is inconsistent with the desired limited government. By this line of reasoning, matters of race decline in significance; racial preoccupation is made to seem juvenile. In black studies this is the familiar argument associated with Booker T. Washington and other New- South spokesmen who used it to rationalize their accommodation to the disfranchisement of black citizens at the turn of the century.
Yet for all of their diminution of the importance of race, the Reaganites operate with a definite view about the status of black citizens. They believe that white institutional leaders–including those in the South–have. cleansed themselves of prejudice and will hire, for example, qualified persons without regard to race. Reaganites also make a harsh distinction within the black population itself. They claim that we should be less concerned about race because of the number of successful blacks who are now gaining jobs, promotions and decision-making responsibility before whites with the same qualifications. That experience shows, they say, a perverse benefit black Americans now enjoy because of past racism. They are aware of the multitudes of poor blacks who have not cracked the elite world of work and play. But, they say, this results from slovenliness, poor work habits and lack of competitive drive–the legacies of slavery and of the false promises from the welfare state. To mount effective opposition to Administration policies it is important to recognize their deceptive mixture of half-truths and distortions. Reaganite rationales do not disturb white race supremacy but are disarming because they appear to be “non-racial.”
Reagan’s Plan of Attack
An administration so intent on taking government out of the business of race relations pursues a variety of tactics. In the past two years these have included budgetary cutbacks, deregulation, dismissal of seasoned civil rights officials, and the withholding of leadership. In responding to the Reagan challenge, I want to focus attention on three areas of domestic policy: revision of federal implementing regulations; weak or selective enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and extension of the block grant method of providing federal support to local government. The first of these–federal regulations–involves the classic role of the federal government in civil rights enforcement. The other two differ in that they have direct implications for the quality of participation at local levels. They are especially significant in our expectations about the future of black participation.
Implementing Federal Regulations. Immediately after the November 1980 election, the Reagan Administration suspended Carter-approved regulations in the Department of Labor that had been designed to strengthen the OFCCP’s affirmative hiring program. A “full review” of OFCCP regulations resulted in the not unpredictable conclusion that there was a need to reduce the compliance burden. In August 1981, Ellen M. Shong, Reagan’s appointee to head OFCCP, issued substitute regulations that were designed to weaken the agency’s power in civil rights work. During the first two years, the Administration, working through Shong, has held back on previously approved regulations and issued new ones in employment, child labor and rulemaking itself that if approved, would limit federal enforcement.
Perhaps the boldest move of the Administration was in January 1982, with its support of tax-exempt status for racially segregated education. This move reversed a twelve-year policy and demonstrated that traditional advocates of racial segregation (e.g., Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, and Jesse Helms) would have a strong voice
on racial policy. The move was particularly disheartening to those Reagan apologists who had proclaimed him more innocent than mean on racial matters.
Along with the revision of existing regulations comes lax enforcement even when the regulations remain intact. At the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing, for example, very effective regulations bar discrimination by local governments that receive revenue sharing money. These are nullified, however, by soft enforcement attitudes.
The revision of regulations not only shows the seriousness of the Reaganites–they leave no stone unturned–it dovetails well with so-called “racially neutral” de-regulation and thus avoids the more difficult task of acting directly to repeal civil rights legislation.
Selective Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. From the beginning months of the new Administration it appeared that New Right conservatives would make the Voting Rights extension a test of their effectiveness. Portions of the Act were scheduled to expire in 1982. What finally happened is illustrative of the politics of deception.
From the President on down there were early and forceful statements of support for the Act. Reagan himself was heard to support a simple ten-year extension. Parallel to these public statements of support was a well-defined move to take the teeth from the Act by opponents within the Administration and their allies. Three tactics were planned: calling for application of the Act nationwide, thereby creating an administrative nightmare; amending its Section Five to include an easy “bailout” provision to allow local governments to exempt themselves from the Act; and amending Section Two so that remedies to citizens suffering from discrimination in local government could only be provided if such victims could prove an intent in the action.
Passage of these amendments in any combination would have undermined the Act while allowing politicians to appear to support it. In time the President dropped his original position in favor of the more devious tactic.
These maneuverings failed to prevent extension of the Act. Early, persistent and generally unified lobbying action by civil rights groups, thorough hearings in the House, and key compromises by moderate Senators overcame the opposition. Reagan signed an extension into law that may make the Act more effective in removing racial barriers.
Extension of an amended Voting Rights Act kept in place the most crucial portion of civil rights legislation having to do with political participation. The problem has become one of selective enforcement. In several cases where local jurisdictions were charged with violations of the Act, the Justice Department has either abstained or actually supported the offending government. Take, for instance, the Mobile, Ala., case in which Senator Jeremiah Denton sought to censor the wording of the government’s position against the city. The Administration responded to Denton’s interference by making the changes he wanted.
In Edgefield County, South Carolina, where county commissioners changed to an at-large system of elections, the local blacks objected, saying the plan diluted black voting strength. The Justice Department agreed with these citizens and prepared to support them in federal court. Yet on the eve of the court appearance, the Department was ordered not to proceed with its case. This time in deference to Senator Thurmond.
Another situation involved Burke County, Georgia. Here, Justice was preparing to make a dramatic move. Both the federal district court and the appeals court had ruled that the at-large system in Burke was unconstitutional. The Justice Department had entered the case before the appeals court with extensive argument against the Burke system. The Burke County case reached the Supreme Court after the first Mobile decision. It attracted extraordinary attention as an occasion to get some clarification of the Court’s very divided opinion in Mobile. Between the appeals hearing (which was argued before Reagan took office), and the Supreme Court argument, Justice not only withdrew from the Burke case, but initiated efforts to present an argument in support of the county–a contradiction of its earlier position. Ultimately, Justice abstained from joining the case at the Supreme Court level.
Just where the Justice Department decides to place its support has enormous importance for the success of cases brought to challenge discrimination in the electoral process. Usually these cases pit local black civic groups against city or county officials. And even though local citizens do often get support from other groups–Legal Services, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or, less often, from the private bar–they never have the resources available to their adversaries who have direct access to the public dole. Because some measure of equity is brought when the Justice Department’s resources are involved, decisions not to support the victims of discrimination may result in the persistence of prejudicial systems.
Block Grants and New Federalism. If defeat of the Voting Rights Act would have resulted in less pressure upon local officials who discriminate, the block grant concept means more power to them. The central characteristic of the block grant system is the removal of oversight of how federal funds are spent by local governments. At present these proposals have not evolved into a coherent national policy. There are, however, five features in an emerging structure:
1) Block grants already approved by Congress. Although there is some confusion on the exact number of these, the programs are outlined in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (Public Law 97-35). Examination of the Act shows that Congress has approved at least eight block grants.
2) Block grants selected for implementation by the states. States had a year in which to decide whether to choose any given block grant program.
3) The Primary Care Block Grant and the Education Block Grant scheduled to go into effect in fiscal 1983.
4) A new round of block grants proposed in the Reagan fiscal 1983 budget.
5) The whole “New Federalism” proposal initially outlined in the 1982 State of the Union speech. There has been some action on this proposal–including negotiations with local officials and hearings in the Senate–but the final outcome has not been settled.
The civil rights implications of block grant proposals are several. Not only would block grants undercut the use of federal funds as an inducement to end discrimination in local communities, they would enhance the power of local politicians who continue to discriminate. A state by state, crazy-quilt pattern of administration will inevitably result, adding to the burden of community-based groups and weakening national advocacy groups who have been accustomed to centralized lobbying in the relatively friendly confines of Washington. These factors may well result in effective denial of benefits to eligible populations.
In general, block grants now in place are covered by the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which forbid discrimination in the use of federal funds. However there is really no “Block Grant Civil Rights Provision,” as such. Nondiscrimination provisions are included in the separate grants already approved with the exception of Social Services and Education. Yet in Title XVII of the Act, where there is general language governing all block grants (e.g., audit requirements, public hearings, state plans, certification), there is no nondiscrimination language–a troubling and perhaps telling oversight.
In proposing the 1982 New Federalism plan, the Administration indicated a willingness to funnel federal money through the Office of Revenue Sharing. That would subject funds to model civil rights provisions and an experienced investigative staff. Such a tactic would be important in addressing the problem of detailed enforcement procedures but would leave open the question of the adequacy of enforcement resources. Limited enforcement resources plague ORS already and would surely grow with the administrative changes under New Federalism.
Insofar as block grants are concerned, we are somewhere out in the stream between the fading categorical grant forms and a New Federalism on yonder shore. New Federalism avoids the appearance of meanness; it taps the rhetoric of pure democracy and engages our emotions about the beauties of local control. Yet the enhancement of a local authority which does not measure up to national standards of openness or of fairness in the delivery of services is irresponsible.
The Ghost of Federalism Past
New Right ideologues who decry the role of public expenditures should look at the way local governments have often used federal resources in violation of the spirit of the programs. Local communities receiving community development block grants or Farmers Home or Urban Development Act Grants (UDAG) have found ways to go about spending these monies without providing equal services to their constituencies. Sometimes this has entailed dubious participation schemes involving low-income blacks who had no real understanding of the programs or the process.
In one town I worked in, personal efforts to check the level of participation of black members listed on the town’s Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee drew puzzled looks and blank responses. Yet an application had been made for the entitled money, it had been approved and nearly a half-million dollars had been spent. William Boone and I found a similar level of non-participation among minority “members” of multi-county planning and development (A-95 Review Agencies) throughout the Southeastern states.
If the track record is so bad in programs such as these where minority and low-income participation is mandated, it is only reasonable to expect the same or worse in block grant programs with a minimum of regulation. In General Revenue Sharing that, indeed, has been the case. Local governments have used this money for a variety of schemes of little benefit to their low-income citizens. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing had a 1981 backlog of over thirteen thousand complaints concerning misuse of money nationwide. The experience of the Revenue Sharing Enforcement Project of the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that the number of complaints would be substantially higher in Southern towns if the regulations were well-known among local groups.
The fact is that local governments have been beneficiaries of unrestricted funds for nearly a decade and have shown little real commitment to, or imagination for, using this money to redress accumulated inequalities.
The Southern Struggle for Political Equality
Recent events have had their effect upon slowing nearly fifteen years of steady political advancement by blacks. In Richmond, Va., the town’s first black mayor, Henry Marsh, has been engineered out of office by a downtown clique of white business people opposed to his local politics and national standing. They were aided by the national Republicans. In Atlanta, long the symbol of enlightened Southern attitudes, Andrew Young’s election to mayor exhibited a pattern of racial bloc voting that was disquieting both to that city’s official boosters and to some longtime black observers. In Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District (the Atlanta area), a large contiguous black population was recently ignored by white legislators in drawing voting lines. So blatant was this move that Reagan’s Justice Department objected under provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In New Orleans, incumbent Mayor Ernest Morial was returned to office by a record turnout and support from the black electorate. Yet, intensive opposition to the Morial reelection rose from the Governor’s office to former New Orleans Mayor and HUD Secretary “Moon” Landrieu.
The elections in both Atlanta and New Orleans turned out record numbers of black voters. In both cities, prominent blacks accepted the rumors that serious efforts were being made to “return” the cities to white mayoral leadership. After each election the cities’ media offered much somber analysis saying that no white could ever win a top office again.
In Houston, black voters joined a dynamic coalition there to elect the city’s first female mayor, Kathy Whitmire. She secured the appointment of a black, Lee Brown, to head the city’s notorious police department. Now that city is going through a familiar scene in which an entrenched white police element is arrayed against a black appointee and his affirmative action and reform efforts.
Away from the cities, in the Southern small towns, not only has economic and political opportunity been slow to arrive, but whim and custom sometimes provide formidable obstacles even to the extension of modern marketplace principles. “Good business practices” alone compelled urban banks, for example, to at least moderate their racism, and treat customers according to their financial utility to the bank. The opponents of equal opportunity programs are correct in their argument that market rationalism had no small part to do with the affirmative hiring and training programs of corporations. That rationalism also enabled AP, Kroger, Safeway and many mom and pop stores to treat the food stamp as cash.
Such principles have been slow to reach the towns. In one case in Georgia, the locally owned bank simply refused to cash a government check for one black community group involved in political conflict. In another instance, in Arkansas, where a town had diverted revenue sharing money away from services in the black sections, the woman who exposed this situation backed out of her formal complaint when told that her unemployment check would be stopped. In Burke County, Georgia, it is still the custom for white creditors to stand prominently near the polls on election day.
But even these indirect forms of intimidation give way to more direct attacks. In Vienna, Gal, Tom Shaw has worked to bring change throughout his county. He filed an election suit against the county commission, the school board and called for official investigation into the local use of revenue sharing money. Over the years his actions led to desegregation of the school system, biracial membership on the school board and county commission and affirmative hiring plans for the county and its municipalities.
Tom Shaw never quite became a hero among some of his neighbors, however. Today he sits in the Dooly County Jail sentenced to thirty years.
Shaw’s jailing came because of a conviction for his role in a confrontation with a local police officer. Charged with aggravated assault (firing a pistol around an officer) and robbery (taking the pistol from the officer), he got a hung jury at his first trial. He argued that his involvement resulted from an effort to defuse a dangerous situation. When the second trial came, he had not been able to settle on legal counsel. The judge refused a continuation and appointed a local public defender who admitted that he had insufficient knowledge of the case. Shaw then tried to defend himself. This time, he was easily convicted and given a near maximum sentence of fifteen years for each charge. He was ordered to serve his time consecutively and has been denied bail bond while the appeal takes place. Needless to say, it was Tom Shaw’s political activities that caused his problems.
In Tchula, Miss., Eddie Carthan, the properly elected black mayor, found himself in a similar situation. He and six others (the Tchula Seven) face three-year terms in Parchman penitentiary resulting from an incident provoked by the refusal of a white police chief to step down for a Carthan appointee. Efforts to enforce his orders led to physical confrontation and assault charges against the mayor. Carthan was also charged with forgery in applying for federal aid and has been indicted for conspiracy in the mysterious death of Roosevelt Granderson, a black town councilman and a Carthan opponent. Carthan’s election as mayor of this majority-black town spurred intense opposition from the traditional white rulers and resulted in the series of harassing actions that left him under a cloud of politically motivated indictments and too dispirited to offer for re-election. The town has been restored to white political leadership.
In Greenwood, also in Mississippi, David Jordan was fired by the school board for canvassing on election day. It seems that Jordan, a high school math teacher and president of the Leflore County Voters League, had not agreed to ask his group to endorse the favorite candidate of the school board members.
In Albany, Gal, both John White, a member of the state General Assembly, and Don Cutler, a member of the county board of commissioners, are facing school board regulations that seek to force them to discontinue their jobs as a condition for holding elected political office.
In Pickens County, Alabama, two elderly black women–Maggie Bozeman and Julia Wilder–were sentenced to state prison terms for violations during a voter registration campaign among elderly black voters. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference led protests in support of the women and drew national attention by pointing to the harsh sentences given these women and the refusal of state executives to give a pardon.
By far the most aggressive attempt to retard affirmative community work in the rural South was the year-long fight between the Federation of Southern Cooperatives ,(FSC) and numerous government agencies, including the
General Accounting Office, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney and federal grand jury in Birmingham. The investigation resulted from complaints made by political adversaries in Sumter County, site of the Federation’s Rural Training Center. The conflict took place over a two-year period, including more than a year of formal proceedings before the grand jury. In a classic “fishing expedition,” the authorities, claiming to be investigating misuse of federal money, demanded to look at nearly all of the FSC’s files. Numerous, sometimes antagonistic appearances before the grand jury required extensive time of FSC employees and counsel. In the end no formal charges were brought and the case was dropped.
The ease with which official institutions can harass political opponents is made possible by the continuing domination in elected office of traditional white elites resentful of bi-racial governance. Black groups in Black Belt counties continue to find it difficult to turn their majorities or near majorities into effective political clout. In only one of the nearly twenty-five majority black counties in Georgia, for instance, is there a black sheriff.
In part, this state of affairs results from a continuation of past habits. The voter registration and turnout rates by race in these places continue to show wide disparities to the detriment of black candidates. But the situation is also maintained by electoral chicanery. While physical intimidation is not usually employed, registration officials have declined to adopt measures to encourage registration among under-participating populations. Flexible registration hours, scatter site or neighborhood registration and deputy registrars have not been widely adopted.
In Edgefield County, South Carolina, there are no black elected county officials. This is due to the change to at-large elections mentioned above. In Alabama, the old tactic of a challenge and purge system has been reinstated through a process called “re-identification.” Registration of all voters in selected counties is suspended until they have “re-identified” themselves. This local legislation passed the state legislature under the sponsorship of white lawmakers. It is widely acknowledged to have a disproportionate effect on black political activity. In Brunswick, Ga., a city-county consolidation system would create a new jurisdiction just at the stage when black voting strength has improved in the city.
From the Atlantic seaboard to Delta Mississippi, expensive counsel has been retained by counties, school boards and townships to defend all-white governments that make public policy in communities of bi-racial population. Losing at one level, these attorneys continue to appeal. After the Burke County, Gal, County Commissioners lost their round in U.S. Appeals Court and announced their intention to carry the case further, one lawyer took the news in stride: “If they lose in the Supreme Court, they’ll probably request an opinion from the House of Lords.”
The Changing Prospects for Change
In spite of the obstacles we have surveyed, active advocacy survives. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives was exonerated in its battle. A multi-million dollar law suit against the Port Gibson, Miss., NAACP was reversed. Court action has saved other jobs and initiatives.
But the problem confronting black participation in the South today is whether such victories may be merely hollow when weighed against the longer campaigns of resistance which delay, deflect and retard. That, after all was the agenda of the old Southern segregationists: to buy time, to deny full equality as long as possible. If this assessment is correct, then advocates of democratic reform will be tested until the final vestige of privilege is removed.
If we lament the intransigence of the white power clique in Burke County, we should also note that in Wayneboro, the county seat, the town’s white mayor led the way to a negotiated settlement that did away with the at-large system and resulted in the election of blacks to the town council. In Greene County, Alabama, a black slate has governed since 1968 holding all of the county commission and board of education seats and pursuing personnel and administrative policies of their own.
And there have been other cases of exemplary advances. In the Fourth Congressional District in Mississippi, Wayne Dowdy pulled together a winning coalition of Democrats, labor, blacks and small-town whites. In his campaign, Dowdy took unequivocal positions on labor, extension of the Voting Rights Act and Legal Services.
Finally, another positive sign comes from the potential for changing the make-up of government officials at the local level. Non-traditional groups–women, blacks, labor, educational and environmental activists–are moving to contest directly for political office. Although the South Carolina Senate remains a conspicuous exception, there have been dramatic increases of blacks in Southern legislatures. Final reapportionment under the 1980 population figures should increase the number even more. Parallel to the increase in elected officials has been an increase in the number and status of blacks in the states’ administrative bureaucracies.
The Challenge of Conservatism
Starting with the social programs of the New Deal and continuing into the present, government’s “safety-valve” function has attempted to resolve social ills that private business and industry either would not or could not handle. The clients of the “welfare state” have included white middle-Americans, but have been disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities. Having limited resources, these latter groups turned to the government for improvements in education, jobs, housing, health and so on.
In one sense, particularly striking after the mid-1960’s urban rebellions when black people lost their legendary “invisible” status, one of the half-truths of the New Right was confirmed. The government did become, however limited, a vehicle for advancement. Yet, even during these years, some progressive social critics thought this change in black status seemed too one-dimensional–resulting in the dependency of too many middle- and low-income blacks on public works and federal services. There was skepticism as to whether such developments, positive in an immediate sense, would actually lead to the structural changes needed for full democratization.
Frankly, this “safety-valve” strategy for change reflected a belief by an ascending liberalism that the race
problem required a concentrated public investment as a precondition for final systemic integration. In this, liberalism was reformist, not visionary, and betrayed its wont to design social change without regard to new forms of dependency, or to the extra-racial inequities intrinsic to market relations in modern capitalism.
So two decades of New Frontier and Great Society programs from model cities to community and urban development became as crucial to the advancement of minorities as the more familiar judicial and administrative measures we readily associate with racial progress. Those programs did their jobs. At the highest national level they gave us a number of individuals to command bureaucratic posts once limited to whites. In small and medium-sized places, blacks who have any professional executive experience often obtained it as head of a federal program or of the local department handling federal money.
The New Right conservatives–such as George Gilder, Martin Anderson or Thomas Sowell–who have discovered these relationships are Johnnie-come-latelies. Not only do they miss the historical intention of corporate state strategy, they also find- themselves in the classic contradiction of American conservatives who–living in a nation of historic, expansive, rapacious, change have to argue, in the name of that nation, to stop all change. Specifically, with regard to black people–whom they accept as the typical victims of American democracy–they are caught in the hyprocrisy of celebrating a new middle class created by the use of government resources while decrying the mechanism that created it; they celebrate the end-product of liberal policy while repudiating liberalism; they acknowledge the concrete benefits of these programs but say they cannot be helpful to lower income blacks, who remain victims, to native Americans or newly arriving immigrants. They fear that realization of the need to completely emancipate America’s black population will shatter the illusions that sustain an unspoken tolerance of suffering as a feature of national life. Thus they point to success as a reason to eliminate the public’s role in equal opportunity! This programmatic ambiguity reflects a moral bankruptcy in American conservatism that has never been more plain than today–at the hour when its influence on the national agenda is greater than at any time since the Great Depression.
Notes on Sources
The philosophical perspectives of the New Right and their racial implications may be found in George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty (New York: Basic Books, 1981) and Thomas Sowell, Black Education (New York: McKay, 1972) or Knowledge and Decisions (New York: Basic Books, 1980).
Statements of the government’s role in protecting the rights of minorities and the opportunities created are in E. Richard Larson and Laughlin McDonald The Rights of Racial Minorities (New York: Avon, 1980); and Larson, Sue Your Boss (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1981).
Conservative strategies to reverse the enforcement mechanism are discussed in Charles L. Heatherly, (ed.) Mandate for Leadership (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 1980). After a year in power, conservative evaluation of its efforts were mildly enthusiastic. See Richard N. Holwill (ed.) A Mandate for Leadership: The First Year (Washington, D.C.: 1982), and Chester E. Finn, Jr. “‘Affirmative Action’ Under Reagan,” Commentary (April, 1982).
The role of the federal executive in civil rights is reviewed extensively in two congressional reports taking opposite views of the matter. A positive attitude is in “Report on Affirmative Action and the Federal Enforcement of Equal Employment Opportunity Laws,” a report of the House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities (February, 1982). The negative view is in “Committee Analysis of Executive Order 11246,” by the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources (April, 1982).
Efforts to document and counter the declining enforcement have been numerous. See Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Without Justice: A Report on the Conduct of the Justice Department in Civil Rights. 1981-1982 February, 1982); Affirmative Action in the 1980s: Dismantling the Process of Discrimination (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, November, 1981); “Statement of Principles on Affirmative Action,: adopted by the Congressional Forum on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (February 1982).
Two very different modes of harassment are represented in the Bozeman-Wilder incident and with the ordeal of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. See Thomas W. Ottenad, “Stiff Sentenees in Alabama Case,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch May 14, 1982; Kelly Dowe, “Paying the Price in Pickens County,” Southern Changes, June/July, 1982,and Thomas N. Bethell, Sumter County Blues (Washington D.C.: National Committee in Support of Community Based Organizations, 1982).
Problems of political participation are discussed in Voting Rights in the South: Ten Years of Litigation Challenging Continuing Discrimination Against Minorities (New York: American Civil Liberties Union, 1982); Frank R. Parker and Barbara Y. Phillips, The Justice Department and Voting Rights Enforcement: Political Interference and Retreat (Washington, D.C.: Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, 1982); The Voting Rights Act Unfulfilled Goals (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1981) Voting Rights in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina (State Advisory Committees, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1982); Raymond Brown, The State of Voting Rights in Georgia in 1982 (Atlanta: Southern Regional Council, 1982).
Alex Willingham has been Director of the Revenue Sharing Enforcement Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. He will begin teaching political science at Dillard University in New Orleans in the fall. He is editor of SPECTRUM, a forthcoming publication of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.