This chapter briefly outlines the history of racial discrimination in the rural South and the ways social justice activists continued the struggle for equality in the decades following the civil rights movement. Civil rights legislation failed to adequately address the economic legacies of past discrimintation, which were compounded by the mass displacement of agricultural workers from the land in the mid-twentieth century. Activists’ calls for government intervention to provide employment, income, education, housing, and health care for displaced workers generated strong resistance from regional elites whose preferred solution to the crisis was for displaced workers to leave. The ideological and political struggles that ensued had consequences for all Americans, not just African Americans, and helped shape national responses to labor displacement during the transition from industrial capitalism to finance capitalism in the late twentieth century.
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