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Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South

Author

Listed:
  • Wright, Gavin

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

The civil rights movement was also a struggle for economic justice, one that until now has not had its own history. Sharing the Prize demonstrates the significant material gains black southerners made—in improved job opportunities, quality of education, and health care—from the 1960s to the 1970s and beyond. Because black advances did not come at the expense of southern whites, Gavin Wright argues, the civil rights struggle was that rarest of social revolutions: one that benefits both sides. From the beginning, black activists sought economic justice in addition to full legal rights. The southern bus boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins were famous acts of civil disobedience, but they were also demands for jobs in the very services being denied blacks. In the period of enforced desegregation following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the wages of southern black workers increased dramatically. Wright’s painstaking documentation of this fact undermines beliefs that government intervention was unnecessary, that discrimination was irrational, and that segregation would gradually disappear once the market was allowed to work. Wright also explains why white southerners defended for so long a system that failed to serve their own best interests. Sharing the Prize makes clear that the material benefits of the civil rights acts of the 1960s are as significant as the moral ones—an especially timely achievement as these monumental pieces of legislation, and the efficacy of governmental intervention more broadly, face new challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Wright, Gavin, 2013. "Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674049338, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:hup:pbooks:9780674049338
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:jeurec:v:15:y:2017:i:2:p:245-295. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/690944 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. William J. Collins & Michael Q. Moody, 2017. "Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View," NBER Working Papers 23397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Celeste K. Carruthers & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2017. "Separate and Unequal in the Labor Market: Human Capital and the Jim Crow Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 655-696.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Matthew O. Jackson, 2017. "Social Norms and the Enforcement of Laws," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 245-295.
    6. Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina & James A. Robinson & Juan F. Vargas, 2017. "The Long Shadow of the Past: Political Economy of Regional Inequality in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015445, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    7. William J. Collins & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2017. "Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880," NBER Working Papers 23395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Peter Temin, 2015. "The American Dual Economy: Race, Globalization, and the Politics of Exclusion," Working Papers Series 26, Institute for New Economic Thinking.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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