The white power structure had supported, albeit inconsistently, the African-American movement’s campaign for the attainment of political and civil rights, which culminated in significant and far-reaching federal legislation, the Civil Rights Law of 1964 and the Voting Rights Law of 1965. From the point of view of the U.S. elite, such reforms were made necessary by global dynamics. The world-system was in transition to neocolonialism, with recognition of the political independence of a host of nation-states in the colonized zones. The emerging neocolonial world order was based on the premise that all persons in the world have political and civil rights, regardless of race or color. In this global context, the United States could not legitimately claim a leadership role, nor could it preserve its political-economic-ideological dominance of the world, if it were to continue with racial customs that reflected the previous colonial era. The U.S. power elite arrived to the consensus that Jim Crow laws and customs constituted obstacles to U.S. foreign policy objectives and its imperialist vision of continued global dominance.
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