Introduction: the Problem of the Color Line
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." Fifty years after Dr. W. E. B. DuBois wrote these words in The Souls of Black Folk, the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education case dramatized them. This legal action forced the United States to confront the explicit racial caste system imposed on African Americans prior to the constitutional protections guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Brown decision also highlighted how politics, wedded to the maintenance of white supremacy, supported the well-organized de Jure terror system common in many areas of the United States. This verdict fueled a decade of unparalleled grass-roots activism and thrust the United States into its most dynamic era of change.