50 years on: talk on legacy of key US civil rights legislation

An academic specialising in African-American history visited QE to talk about the watershed US Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the day after he delivered a similar talk at the British Library. The talks were timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Act.

Professor William Jones, who is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke to an audience comprising all the School’s Year 12 Politics and Sociology students, as well as staff and girls from The Henrietta Barnett School.

The 1964 Act is considered by many to be the single most significant measure enacted by the US Congress in the 20th century. It swept away the Jim Crow system of Southern segregation and established the legal and political equality of African-Americans, although its results in terms of social and economic equality are less clear-cut. 

""Liam Hargadon, Head of Politics and Head of Year 12, said: “Professor Jones considered the historic circumstances of its enactment and addressed its legacy, including its meaning for African-Americans in the US today.”

Professor Jones, whose most recent book is The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights was accompanied by Susan Wedlake, Cultural Affairs Office at the US Embassy in London.

The event at the British Library was sponsored by the Library’s Eccles Centre for American Studies, in collaboration with UCL Institute of the Americas, King’s College London’s Institute of North American Studies and the US Embassy.