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If the Civil Rights Act hadn't been passed, when/would the individual Southern states repeal segregation?

Southpaw

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Let's assume that due to no one with the legislative genius of LBJ being in office, Southern Democratic senators keep successfully filibustering civil rights bills much later than 1964.

With no federal action, would reformist Southern governors and legislatures have started repealing segregation themselves, or would that remain a political non-starter at the state level?
 

Ricardolindo

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Let's assume that due to no one with the legislative genius of LBJ being in office, Southern Democratic senators keep successfully filibustering civil rights bills much later than 1964.

With no federal action, would reformist Southern governors and legislatures have started repealing segregation themselves, or would that remain a political non-starter at the state level?
David Tenner showed in https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-no-1964-civil-rights-act.324118/#post-9503046 that, even if John F. Kennedy lived, either a strong bill would pass in 1965 or the Supreme Court would interprete the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as banning private discrimination.
 

d32123

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David Tenner showed in https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-no-1964-civil-rights-act.324118/#post-9503046 that, even if John F. Kennedy lived, either a strong bill would pass in 1965 or the Supreme Court would interprete the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as banning private discrimination.
I strongly disagree. As we saw with Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court can rule whatever it wants, but it's up to the actual president to enforce its decisions. There is not a lot to indicate that JFK would be bold enough or have the political capital to actually do such. I also don't think the 1964 election was pre-determined by any means.

I think the biggest factor is going to be the Civil Rights movement itself. If MLK fails, there is going to be splintering and new leaders and factions emerging. I also don't think that the movement's success as it were was inevitable. It's easy to imagine a situation where the momentum starts turning against it. And as the Conservative Movement grows, defending Jim Crow could easily be entrenched as part of its dogma as much as opposing equal rights for women and LGBTQ people is IOTL.
 

Ricardolindo

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I strongly disagree. As we saw with Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court can rule whatever it wants, but it's up to the actual president to enforce its decisions. There is not a lot to indicate that JFK would be bold enough or have the political capital to actually do such. I also don't think the 1964 election was pre-determined by any means.

I think the biggest factor is going to be the Civil Rights movement itself. If MLK fails, there is going to be splintering and new leaders and factions emerging. I also don't think that the movement's success as it were was inevitable. It's easy to imagine a situation where the momentum starts turning against it. And as the Conservative Movement grows, defending Jim Crow could easily be entrenched as part of its dogma as much as opposing equal rights for women and LGBTQ people is IOTL.
It's very hard to see a surviving John F. Kennedy losing. The US were prosperous and at peace. In addition, the Republicans would still almost certainly nominate a conservative, probably Goldwater, as in our timeline. A conservative could not win in 1964.
Segregation was destroyed by several factors: World War II, prosperity, television and the Cold War.
In addition, many conservatives in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, for example.
 

d32123

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It's very hard to see a surviving John F. Kennedy losing. The US were prosperous and at peace. In addition, the Republicans would still almost certainly nominate a conservative, probably Goldwater, as in our timeline. A conservative could not win in 1964.
Segregation was destroyed by several factors: World War II, prosperity, television and the Cold War.
In addition, many conservatives in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, for example.
I think this is an extremely overly deterministic view of history. I agree that JFK is likely to win (due to incumbency), but the economic and political conditions of late 1964 were by no means determined by 1963.

Segregation was destroyed by the Civil Rights movement. full stop. Obviously other factors helped it succeed but it was by no means inevitable that it was going to succeed. People thought the ERA was inevitable before the Conservative Movement derailed it. There are probably many universes where the Civil Rights Act doesn't pass or is significantly watered down. There are probably many universes where a much stronger Civil Rights Act passes and the US become more integrated and less racially oppressive than OTL.

And yes many conservatives voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Many conservatives at one time were pro-choice before the pro-life movement became integral to Conservatism.
 

Ricardolindo

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I think this is an extremely overly deterministic view of history. I agree that JFK is likely to win (due to incumbency), but the economic and political conditions of late 1964 were by no means determined by 1963.

Segregation was destroyed by the Civil Rights movement. full stop. Obviously other factors helped it succeed but it was by no means inevitable that it was going to succeed. People thought the ERA was inevitable before the Conservative Movement derailed it. There are probably many universes where the Civil Rights Act doesn't pass or is significantly watered down. There are probably many universes where a much stronger Civil Rights Act passes and the US become more integrated and less racially oppressive than OTL.

And yes many conservatives voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Many conservatives at one time were pro-choice before the pro-life movement became integral to Conservatism.
There was no reason for a recession or a war to happen in 1963-64.
Regardless, our statements about what destroyed segregation aren't contradictory. Those factors helped the Civil Rights Movement. The participation of black soldiers in World War II reduced racism. The advancement of the US following the war also did so. Outside of the South, public opinion had turned overwhelmingly against segregation. In addition, the Cold War made it essential for the US to end segregation, in order to fight the racially egalitarian ideology of communism.
Regardless, I'm not that much of a historical determinist but segregation is one thing that simply could not have survived with such a late point of divergence.
 
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Charles EP M.

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would reformist Southern governors and legislatures have started repealing segregation themselves, or would that remain a political non-starter at the state level?
I think it'd be a non-starter for a depressingly long time without something federal - it'd probably turn out like Northern Ireland where the possibility of things being less shit causes Reverend Ian Paisley But Alabama to go on the warpath and everything gets ugly. But as Ricardolindo's link points out, there's a US Supreme Court decision in 1966 that would impact segregation. It can be delayed and be uglier when it goes down, but segregation's going.

The delay and uglier fall will of course have a big impact on everything.
 

Southpaw

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Didn't know about the Supreme Court case coming up, though it's logical that they would given the Warren Court's assertiveness. If desegration comes through "judicial activism" and enforcement by a Northern Democrat things would get pretty bad, IMO.
 

Redolegna

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How much did that decision hinge on the fact that with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, clear momentum had been established on the side of the Civil Rights movement with the federal administration backing some of its revendication with teeth, rather than the usual weak Kennedyan verbiage?
 

Geordie

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David Tenner showed in https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-no-1964-civil-rights-act.324118/#post-9503046 that, even if John F. Kennedy lived, either a strong bill would pass in 1965 or the Supreme Court would interprete the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as banning private discrimination.
Not sure whether this is a language barrier thing, but David hasn't showed anything. He's stated it. Depending on how you judge his posts, you could say he argues. He doesn't show, and there seems to be a decent amount of dissent to his ideas.

While the idea of counterfactual proof is as much poppycock as reading the entrails of chickens, I'd need a bit more evidence to be convinced.
 

Ricardolindo

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Not sure whether this is a language barrier thing, but David hasn't showed anything. He's stated it. Depending on how you judge his posts, you could say he argues. He doesn't show, and there seems to be a decent amount of dissent to his ideas.

While the idea of counterfactual proof is as much poppycock as reading the entrails of chickens, I'd need a bit more evidence to be convinced.
Sorry for the inappropriate term. Still, David Tenner is an expert on American history, as can be seen in many posts of his, that are very well sourced. He's been in alternate history since the mid 90s, initially, in soc.history.what-if and, later, in alternatehistory.com.
 

Ricardolindo

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I think you are all underestimating the Cold War factor. The US needed to end segregation in order to fight the racially egalitarian ideology of communism.
I also think you underestimate how much opinion outside of the South had turned against segregation. Television made non-Southerners more aware of the living conditions of blacks in the South.
In addition, post-World War II prosperity led to social liberalization.
 
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napoleon IV

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I think that without federal intervention Southern states could potentially come around, but it would be a lot later. Like decades later at best. The biggest thing that would change Southern minds about segregation is if the cost starts to clearly outweigh the benefits (as an analogy, that's what ultimately pushed the South African government to negotiate with the ANC). But until that happens it's easy for a mixture of conservative ideology, backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, and simple inertia to keep the South segregated.

One thing that would create major costs to segregation is that if the Civil Rights Movement fails we're likely to see an increased turn to violence. The idea being that peaceful protest has failed, and so the only way to end segregation is through force. While violent groups wouldn't be able to actually overthrow the system they could turn the South into the American version of Northern Ireland. Though the turn to violence may actually entrench segregation even more by creating even more of a white backlash against civil rights. Certainly the law and order approach taken by conservatives would easily fit itself into such a mindset.
 

d32123

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Sorry for the inappropriate term. Still, David Tenner is an expert on American history, as can be seen in many posts of his, that are very well sourced. He's been in alternate history since the mid 90s, initially, in soc.history.what-if and, later, in alternatehistory.com.
There is no such thing as an expert on the entirety of American history. Even people with PhDs in US history will typically have very narrow focuses of study. I think David T is a good poster who contributed a lot to the discussion of alternate history on AH.com but upholding him as some sort of definitive authority on the history of my entire country is pretty absurd. I personally disagree with a lot of his takes and I'm sure a lot of other people here do too.
 

Gary Oswald

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Has anyone done an AH Deep-South-as-Northern-Ireland?
Not seriously but it comes up often in vignettes/lists for parrelism sake. Sideways did a run down where the black panthers were the sinn fein analogue and when I wrote about a 'bleeding south' the troubles were my inspiration. I think to an extent a Brit's mind will always go there if you're trying to imagine what happens when intercommunity relations entirely collapse and you can't trust the government to act as a neutral party and ensure civil rights are obtainable.
 

napoleon IV

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I think you are all underestimating the Cold War factor. The US needed to end segregation in order to fight the racially egalitarian ideology of communism.
I also think you underestimate how much opinion outside of the South had turned against segregation. Television made non-Southerners more aware of the living conditions of blacks in the South.
In addition, post-World War II prosperity led to social liberalization.
It's true that by the 1960s segregation had become an embarrassment to the US when it came to international affairs. This is one of the costs of maintaining segregation, and as I said in a previous post if these sorts of costs keep piling up eventually people may decide that segregation isn't worth it. But desegregation is not essential to the US doing well in the Cold War. As long as the US is economically and militarily powerful other countries are going to be willing to deal with it in the hopes of getting the benefits of partnership. For example, a lot of countries got heavy military/economic assistance from the US, and no matter how morally repulsive they may find segregation they also don't want to lose all that money (there's also a strong element of coercion, since for many countries opposing the US means getting your government toppled and replaced with a pro-American regime).

Also, while it's true that public opinion outside of the South had turned against segregation, one should never underestimate the ability of an influential and well-connected minority to override the will of the majority. At the risk of getting into current politics outside of The Pub, this is why the NRA and other anti-gun control people have been able to block measures which are supported by the vast majority of Americans. Finally, in terms of social liberalization, it's important to remember that there was a huge backlash to this, which became strong enough to help realign US politics in the 1970s-80s. If the Civil Rights Movement can't secure success in the mid-1960s it's totally possible that this backlash could come to encompass supporting segregation (as @d32123 mentions).
 

Ricardolindo

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It's true that by the 1960s segregation had become an embarrassment to the US when it came to international affairs. This is one of the costs of maintaining segregation, and as I said in a previous post if these sorts of costs keep piling up eventually people may decide that segregation isn't worth it. But desegregation is not essential to the US doing well in the Cold War. As long as the US is economically and militarily powerful other countries are going to be willing to deal with it in the hopes of getting the benefits of partnership. For example, a lot of countries got heavy military/economic assistance from the US, and no matter how morally repulsive they may find segregation they also don't want to lose all that money (there's also a strong element of coercion, since for many countries opposing the US means getting your government toppled and replaced with a pro-American regime).

Also, while it's true that public opinion outside of the South had turned against segregation, one should never underestimate the ability of an influential and well-connected minority to override the will of the majority. At the risk of getting into current politics outside of The Pub, this is why the NRA and other anti-gun control people have been able to block measures which are supported by the vast majority of Americans. Finally, in terms of social liberalization, it's important to remember that there was a huge backlash to this, which became strong enough to help realign US politics in the 1970s-80s. If the Civil Rights Movement can't secure success in the mid-1960s it's totally possible that this backlash could come to encompass supporting segregation (as @d32123 mentions).
First, the USA wanted allies among the newly independent African nations. Ending segregation was essential for that.
Second, the Southern segregationists simpy didn't have the national influence or organization of the NRA.
Third, according to https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-no-1964-civil-rights-act.324118/post-9504902, white backlash outside of the South only began with housing in 1966. It's hard to see that being included in any strong bill that they wanted to pass.
 
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