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K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field. Series Glossary of Key Terms ................................................... 100 Organizations to Contact . ....................................................... 101 Further Reading . ..................................................................... 102 Internet Resources . ................................................................. 103 Chapter Notes .......................................................................... 104 Index ....................................................................................... 109 Author’s Biography and Credits . ............................................. 112 Chapter 1: Overview of Race Relations in America . ................... 7 Chapter 2: How Much Should the Government Try to Improve Race Relations? ................................ 23 Chapter 3: Can Psychological Issues Shape Racial Attitudes? . .. 43 Chapter 4: Is Aversive Racism Something to Worry About? ....... 63 Chapter 5: What Effect Did the Obama Presidency Have on Race Relations? .......................................... 81


mandatory minimum sentencing laws— state or federal statutes that establish punishments for certain crimes, often requiring a period of incarceration. Judges have no leeway to take mitigating factors into account. racial prejudice— a negative attitude or discrimination against people of other races or color. white supremacy— a racist belief that people of white origin are superior to people of other races (Blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc) and hence should dominate them.



The history of race relations in the United States started with what might have seemed like a simple exchange of food for labor in the small British colony of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in present- day Virginia, in 1619. After many weeks at

sea, a Dutch ship with twenty slaves captured from Africa disembarked at the port of Jamestown. The crew was running low on food and supplies. Since the crew members didn’t have any money, they agreed to trade the captured slaves for some cash and a few supplies. The twenty Africans in the Dutch ship would be turned into indentured servants, working for a specified period for their English masters in Virginia. Soon, more black laborers would be brought to the colony, as well as to other British colonies in North America, and by the 1640s their status would be changed from indentured servants, who had the prospect of freedom after working for seven years, to slaves. The events that followed this exchange marked the long, disturbing history of race relations in America,


a history that Americans must understand to be able to connect the dots between the past and the present. Understanding the history of race relations helps people appreciate the origin of the current debate in the United States about racial prejudice , human rights, incarceration, inequality, white privilege, white supremacy , police misconduct, and other issues. Unless young people study the American Civil War and the Confederacy, we will never understand why Dylan Roof shot and killed nine church members in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Without a proper understanding of

Many people have come to understand that the concept of “race” is meaningless. It falsely implies that there are significant genetic differences between populations.


Contemporary Issues: Race Relations

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” 1 —Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader

American history, we will never fathom what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, between police officer Darren Wilson and black citizen Michael Brown in 2014. There are no acceptable explanations or excuses for these events, but understanding America’s racial history will shed some light on how the stage was set for such encounters. Most importantly, the history of race relations can help people understand the role of race in law enforcement and why the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown led to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Overview of Race Relations in America

SLAVERY AND THE CONFEDERACY Slavery was an important issue from the time that the United States was formed. It was permitted under the US Constitution, ratified in 1787. Prior to that time, slavery had been controlled and enforced by laws passed in the various colonies. The Constitution allowed states to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery or not, but it also included provisions that allowed slaveowners to recapture slaves that escaped to free states in the North. From the enactment of the Constitution to the current mandatory minimum sentencing laws , race has played a significant role in law enforcement. The Fugitive Slave Act was first passed by the federal government on February 4, 1793. This piece of legislature gave slave owners the right to pursue and recover slaves who tried to escape. States were not compelled to enforce the act, but federal authorities could execute it. 2 Many states in the American north found ways to protect escaped slaves from federal laws. Some states allowed escaped slaves an opportunity for trial by jury by implementing personal liberty laws. Others even allowed fugitives on trial to receive legal representation, all in an attempt to hamper enforcement by federal authorities. Those in favor of the abolition of slavery used the Underground Railroad to circumvent the law and help slaves escape to freedom in the North. By and large, states in the North facilitated the disregard of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. Slave owners in the American South, however,


Contemporary Issues: Race Relations

were not impressed with their northern counterparts for disregarding the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act and threatened to secede. In an attempt to appease the southern slave owners, the federal government passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The new law was meant to strengthen the enforcement measures of the 1793 version of the act. The new law made it mandatory for all citizens to help slaveholders capture escaped slaves. Helping escaping slaves with food, money, shelter or any form of aid was now illegal under the new act. Anyone found guilty of the crime would face both jail time (six months) and a fine of $500 to $1,000—an expensive penalty in those days, more than many people earned in a year. Escaping slaves could now be pursued and captured anywhere in the United States, including the northern states where slavery was

Scan here to learn more about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.


Overview of Race Relations in America

Fugitive slaves arrive in Philadelphia, a free state. During the nineteenth century, abolitionists and free blacks in the North helped freedom-seeking slaves escape to Canada, defying federal laws.

illegal. The act stated that escaped slaves living in the north could be captured and returned to slavery. The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865. For the southern states that joined the Confederacy, the war was about protecting and preserving their system of slavery. For most people in the northern states, it was about preserving the federal union of states. The Civil War started when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter, a federal garrison in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, shortly after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president. Although Confederate armies were


Contemporary Issues: Race Relations

successful in several major battles during 1861 and 1862, as the war dragged on Confederate forces were gradually overpowered by the superior numbers of the Union forces, as well as the industrial strength of the northern states. The Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, and the capture of a Mississippi River stronghold at Vicksburg in July 1863, marked a turning point in the war. As the Confederates found themselves short of manpower in 1864 some officers even considered a controversial proposal to free any slaves who would agree to fight for the Confederacy. This proposal was quickly quashed by government officials, however. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. This is often said to mark the end of the war, although Confederate forces in other parts of the country continued fighting until June. RECONSTRUCTION AND JIM CROW Slavery in the United States was abolished with the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. The Fourteenth Amendment accorded black Americans equal protection under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men the right to vote. However, the successes of this period, known as Reconstruction, were short-lived. Former Confederates who wanted to re-establish white supremacy in the South formed groups like the Ku Klux


Overview of Race Relations in America

Klan and the Knights of the White Camellia. These groups terrorized newly freed blacks, as well as sympathetic whites, to prevent them from voting. The governments of Southern states and municipalities, often dominated by former Confederates, passed “black codes”—laws that restricted the rights of blacks in the South. However, the federal government intervened,

Ku Klux Klan members burn a cross at a rally in Tennessee, 1948. Groups like the KKK formed after the Civil War to intimidate freedmen and prevent them from exercising their right to vote and participate in government.


Contemporary Issues: Race Relations

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