Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in America: A Reference Handbook

ABC-CLIO. (Contemporary World Issues). Apr. 2021. 388p. ISBN 9781440867293. $63. REF
LeMay (emeritus, political science, California State Univ., San Bernardino) begins this overview of civil rights by examining the U.S. government’s historical attempts to guarantee the fundamental rights and liberties of American citizens, with an emphasis on civil rights acts and Constitutional amendments. These he discusses alongside the denial of civil rights to Indigenous peoples, Black Americans, and LGBTQ+ people. There are 10 thoughtful, thoroughly researched essays analyzing struggles for civil rights, written by scholars with varied perspectives and subject areas. The book’s profiles of civil rights organizations and advocates (including the ACLU, the Congress of Racial Equality, the League of Women Voters, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ida B. Wells, and Dolores Huerta) are an excellent source for student reports. A section of data and documents contains 12 tables of Supreme Court decisions and their impacts on Constitutional amendments, as well as 10 primary documents (some excerpted, some full-text). The “Resources” section (listing books, scholarly journals, and films, all well annotated) is a bonanza for readers who want to conduct further research.
VERDICT Well organized and easy to use, the work is a good starting point for information on executive, legislative, and judicial actions taken over the last 200 years to protect and insure individual civil rights. It strikes a strong balance between basic information and specialized content and is an effective resource for students and general readers.
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