1. News & Issues

History of Race in the U.S.


Race and racism have a long and complicated history in the U.S.—from the peculiar institution of slavery to the civil rights movements of the 1960s and the efforts to right the wrongs of the past with programs such as affirmative action. Interested in exploring the history of race in America? Learn about the movers and shakers in the fight for civil rights, how to honor the past and the issues and controversies related to the country’s history of racism.
  1. The Fight for Civil Rights
  2. Honoring the Past
  3. Issues and Controversies
  4. The Recent Past: History in the Making

The Fight for Civil Rights

African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans are some of the minority groups in the United States who have fought for civil rights in their respective communities and nationwide. Find out the unique challenges that certain ethnic minority groups faced when challenging discrimination in a variety of sectors. Learn which individuals and organizations emerged as trailblazers during the Civil Rights Era.

Honoring the Past

What’s the best way to honor those who fought against racism and for civil rights for all Americans? It depends on who you ask, of course. Learn why it took several years for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to be recognized as a federal holiday and why some Americans, even blacks, object to Black History Month. Others, meanwhile, fully support marking off calendar days as a way to honor trailblazers of color.

Issues and Controversies

The legacy of racism in the United States continues to generate controversy. An event as seemingly mundane as Thanksgiving raises complex issues for Native Americans and anti-racist activists. Is it offensive to celebrate this “holiday” that some argue kicked off the decimation of America’s indigenous peoples? Meanwhile, a practice such as affirmative action launches an entirely new debate. Conservatives argue that affirmative action isn’t the best tactic legislators can use to right the wrongs of our nation’s racist past. Learn about the events that led to affirmative action’s creation and decide for yourself.

The Recent Past: History in the Making

In recent years, people of color have made strides in all facets of American society—be it in politics, film, music or athletics. Reflect on how the America of yesterday is morphing into a pluralistic society in which minority groups face fewer limits than ever before in accomplishing their dreams. The current events of last month, last year and last decade are shaping the country into an entirely different entity than the one in which our grandparents came of age.

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