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- The Moynihan Report: An Annotated Edition
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- Conceptual Lacunae and Confusions in the Religion and Morality Debate
He especially worried about the Nation of Islam, a black- nationalist religion that rapidly gained membership in the early s. Its one-time spokesperson, Malcolm X, drew attention with his barbed criticisms of American racism and rejection of nonviolent resistance in favor of self-defense. It is clear that what happens in America is being taken as a sign of what can, or must, happen in the world at large.
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The course of world events will be profoundly affected by the success or failure of the Negro American revolution in seeking the peaceful assimilation of the races in the United States. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Martin Luther King was as much an expression of the hope for the future, as it was recognition for past achievement. It is no less clear that carrying this revolution forward to a successful conclusion is a first priority confronting the Great Society.
Moynihan especially favored stronger measures to reduce unemployment and family allowances that would provide every American family a guaranteed minimum annual income. The political events were three: First, the Negroes themselves organized as a mass movement. Their organizations have been in some ways better disciplined and better led than any in our history. They have established an unprecedented alliance with religious groups throughout the nation and have maintained close ties with both political parties and with most segments of the trade union movement.
Second, the Kennedy-Johnson Administration committed the Federal government to the cause of Negro equality. This had never happened before.
Third, the Presidential election was practically a referendum on this commitment: if these were terms made by the opposition, they were in effect accepted by the President. The overwhelming victory of President Johnson must be taken as emphatic popular endorsement of the unmistakable, and openly avowed course which the Federal government has pursued under his leadership.
Second, the Economic Opportunity Act of Here Moynihan refers to the principal legislation of the War on Poverty, that established the Office of Economic Opportunity began a major national effort to abolish poverty, a condition in which almost half of Negro families are living.
Third, the Civil Rights Act of marked the end of the era of legal and formal discrimination against Negroes and created important new machinery for combating covert discrimination and unequal treatment. The Act does not guarantee an end to harassment in matters such as voter registration, but does make it more or less incumbent upon government to take further steps to thwart such efforts when they do occur. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in August, Moynihan assumed, perhaps too optimistically, that African Americans would soon enjoy full civil and political rights.
The Moynihan Report: An Annotated Edition
The legal events were no less specific. Beginning with Brown v. Board of Education in , through the decade that culminated in the recent decisions upholding Title II of the Civil Rights Act, the Federal judiciary, led by the Supreme Court, has used every opportunity to combat unequal treatment of Negro citizens.
It may be put as a general proposition that the laws of the United States now look upon any such treatment as obnoxious, and that the courts will strike it down wherever it appears.
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With these events behind us, the nation now faces a different set of challenges, which may prove more difficult to meet, if only because they cannot be cast as concrete propositions of right and wrong. In this section, Moynihan registered the demands of the civil-rights movement for economic equality.
Major civil-rights organizations advanced ambitious plans to combat poverty, which disproportionately affected African Americans. Liberty and Equality are the twin ideals of American democracy. But they are not the same thing. Nor, most importantly, are they equally attractive to all groups at any given time nor yet are they always compatible, one with the other. Many persons who would gladly die for liberty are appalled by equality.
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Many who are devoted to equality are puzzled and even troubled by liberty. Much of the political history of the American nation can be seen as a competition between these two ideals, as for example, the unending troubles between capital and labor. By and large, liberty has been the ideal with the higher social prestige in America. It has been the middle class aspiration, par excellence. Note the assertions of the conservative right that ours is a republic, not a democracy. Equality, on the other hand, has enjoyed tolerance more than acceptance.
American democracy has not always been successful in maintaining a balance between these two ideals, and notably so where the Negro American is concerned. It was therefore possible in the century that followed to deprive their descendants of much of their liberty as well. The ideal of equality does not ordain that all persons end up, as well as start out equal. It is increasingly demanded that the distribution of success and failure within one group be roughly comparable to that within other groups.
It is not enough that all individuals start out on even terms, if the members of one group almost invariably end up well to the fore, and those of another far to the rear. This is what ethnic politics are all about in America, and in the main the Negro American demands are being put forth in this now traditional and established framework. Here a point of semantics must be grasped. The demand for Equality of Opportunity has been generally perceived by white Americans as a demand for liberty, a demand not to be excluded from the competitions of life—at the polling place, in the scholarship examinations, at the personnel office, on the housing market.
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Liberty does, of course, demand that everyone be free to try his luck, or test his skill in such matters. But these opportunities do not necessarily produce equality: on the contrary, to the extent that winners imply losers, equality of opportunity almost insures inequality of results. The point of semantics is that equality of opportunity now has a different meaning for Negroes than it has for whites. It is not or at least no longer a demand for liberty alone, but also for equality—in terms of group results.
Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the March on Washington, was a civil-rights leader and socialist who continuously linked racial equality to the right to earn a decent living. Philip Randolph in , and endorsed by major civil-rights leaders. The demand for equality in education Some aspects of the new laws do guarantee results, in the sense that upon enactment and enforcement they bring about an objective that is an end in itself, e. Other provisions are at once terminal and intermediary. The portions of the Civil Rights Act dealing with voting rights will no doubt lead to further enlargements of the freedom of the Negro American.
But by and large, the programs that have been enacted in the first phase of the Negro revolution—Manpower Retraining, the Job Corps, Community Action, et al. They cannot insure the outcome. By naming the principal programs of the War on Poverty and suggesting their inadequacy, Moynihan hinted at the need for new and expanded antipoverty programs as a solution to demands for racial equality.
The principal challenge of the next phase of the Negro revolution is to make certain that equality of results will now follow. If we do not, there will be no social peace in the United States for generations. Here Moynihan warned that failure to achieve economic equality for African Americans would lead to social disorder. His warning seemed prescient when his report became public just prior to the Watts Riots of August, The time, therefore, is at hand for an unflinching look at the present potential of Negro Americans to move from where they now are to where they want, and ought to be.
There is no very satisfactory way, at present, to measure social health or social pathology within an ethnic, or religious, or geographical community.
Data are few and uncertain, and conclusions drawn from them, including the conclusions that follow, are subject to the grossest error. That being the case, it has to be said that there is a considerable body of evidence to support the conclusion that Negro social structure, in particular the Negro family, battered and harassed by discrimination, injustice, and uprooting, is in the deepest trouble.
While many young Negroes are moving ahead to unprecedented levels of achievement, many more are falling further and further behind. After an intensive study of the life of central Harlem, the board of directors of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. It is the conclusion of this survey of the available national data, that what is true of central Harlem, can be said to be true of the Negro American world in general. However, certain data series are available only in terms of the white and nonwhite population.
Conceptual Lacunae and Confusions in the Religion and Morality Debate
Where this is the case, the nonwhite data have been used as if they referred only to Negroes. This necessarily introduces some inaccuracies, but it does not appear to produce any significant distortions. In , Negroes were The remaining 7. Moynihan wrote at a time when African Americans were overwhelmingly the largest racial minority in the U. The demography of the U. Moynihan, like many Americans at the time, tended to see American race relations in terms of black-and-white, despite the long-term presence of other groups.