Reconsidering Roosevelt on Race: How the Presidency Paved the Road to Brown

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University of Chicago Press, Feb 15, 2010 - Social Science - 308 pages
Many have questioned FDR's record on race, suggesting that he had the opportunity but not the will to advance the civil rights of African Americans. Kevin J. McMahon challenges this view, arguing instead that Roosevelt's administration played a crucial role in the Supreme Court's increasing commitment to racial equality—which culminated in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

McMahon shows how FDR's attempt to strengthen the presidency and undermine the power of conservative Southern Democrats dovetailed with his efforts to seek racial equality through the federal courts. By appointing a majority of rights-based liberals deferential to presidential power, Roosevelt ensured that the Supreme Court would be receptive to civil rights claims, especially when those claims had the support of the executive branch.
 

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Contents

The Day They Drove Old Dixie Down
1
RightsCentered Liberalism and Legal Realism in the Early New Deal Years
24
The Modern Presidency and the Enemies of Institutional Reform
61
The Politics of Creating the Roosevelt Court
97
Southern Democracy Lynch Law and the Roosevelt Justice Department
144
Truman Eisenhower and the Civil Rights Decisions
177
The Road the Court Trod
203
Notes
223
Works Cited
269
Index
287
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Kevin J. McMahon is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York, Fredonia.

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