The African-American struggle for civil rights has been a long one, one that began with the importation of the first black person into the country as a slave, and continues today. Through radical political struggle coupled with legal precedent, de jure segregation became a part of the past of the United States. Meticulous legal strategizing by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund culminated with the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared unconstitutional the governmental practice of segregating on the basis of race. Careful legislative lobbying—as well as the threats posed by radical black political groups who made it clear that they would be willing to use violence to protect themselves and achieve political ends—resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The passage of the acts seemed to assure the creation of real political, educational, and employment gains for African-Americans.
The Limits of Legal Discourse: Learning From the Civil Rights Movement in the Quest for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights, 40 N. Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 679 (1996)