“In sum, the twentieth century civil rights statutes have provided us with a blurred legacy. They did not quietly become law pursuant to a calm and orderly legislative process. Rather, they arose amidst a popular struggle and congressional controversy over the moral legitimacy of American apartheid. One manifestation of this controversy was the issue of Congress’ power to end inequality. The guarantees enacted were largely unclear, and the enforcement schemes enacted dispersed (rather than centralized) authority to enforce the guarantees. Moreover, there is no reason to assume that in 1965 significant portions of our population believed in the equality of all men and women or had rejected the disturbing doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Thus, from the outset, the enterprise of legislated equality was burdened with uncertainty and shadowed by doubt.”

Source: Linda S. Greene. Twenty Years Of Civil Rights: How Firm A Foundation? 37 Rutgers L. Rev. 707,713. 1984-1985. 

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