The Dual Agenda: Race and Social Welfare Policies of Civil Rights Organizations

What is the role of race in social policy? Have race-based programmes failed? Should welfare and civil rights be blind to colour? In this landmark book, two leading scholars challenge critics like William Julius Wilson and Theda Skocpol who seek to replace a race-specific agenda for African-Americans with class-neutral programmes. Dona Cooper Hamilton and Charles V. Hamilton transform our understanding of the history of civil rights. From the New Deal to the 1990s, they demonstrate the many ways in which the civil rights movement fought not only to end racial segregation and discrimination but also to support social and economic justice for all Americans. Drawing on an unprecedented range of data, the Hamiltons describe the complex connections between race and class that have marked American social reform since the beginning of the welfare state. They reveal an aspect of the civil rights struggle which has been too long overlooked or obscured - one that has fought for policies to expand social and economic welfare for blacks and whites alike. From the NRA and WPA to the Great Society and the War on Poverty, from the NAACP, National Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus to A. Philip Randolph, Marian Wright Edelman and the Children's Defense Fund and many others, the Hamiltons chart the changing strategies and describe the often fierce battles that civil rights groups fought over this dual agenda . Decade by decade, they demonstrate how the movement for African-American civil rights has always included economic and social welfare reform for everyone. The Dual Agenda is not only an indispensable new history of modern America, it is also a powerful critique of conventional wisdom of the left and right about the supposed failure of civil rights organizations to pay attention to universal social welfare policies. At a time of severe political retrenchment, either from the Republican right or the Democratic centre, the Hamiltons remind us, as the nation grapples with a major new welfare reform law, that the African-American struggle for civil rights has always been bound to the American ideal of equality and security for all.