Racial Issues in National Politics

April 18, 1956

Report Outline
Eisenhower, Congress, and Negro Rights
Threat of Race Issue to Democratic Unity
Rise of Negro Influence in Elections

Eisenhower, Congress, and Negro Rights

The tense struggle over segregation in the South has pushed the explosive issue of race relations into the political spotlight, where it is likely to remain for the duration of the 1956 presidential campaign. Negro leaders, spurred by favorable Supreme Court decisions, are determined to press toward their goal of “first-class citizenship” through political action. Southern political leaders are prepared to resist change in traditional race patterns of their area by all appropriate means. For Negro citizens and most southern whites, racial issues are paramount.

For the Democratic party, the conflict presents a crucial test of its ability to reweld the cracking coalition of northern liberals and southern conservatives which was its strength during the 20 years of Democratic domination, 1932-1952. Today the two factions—one dedicated to civil rights, the other to states' rights—are ready to fight for control of the party at the Chicago presidential nominating convention in August.

For the Republicans, the race issue is less disruptive but still has proved embarrassing. The administration is caught in a cross-fire of criticism over its civil rights policies. On the one hand it is urged to intervene in the South for protection of Negro rights; on the other, it is warned against any attempt at coercion of the white South on school segregation or other racial issues.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement
Jul. 22, 2022  Black Hairstyles
Nov. 15, 1985  Black America Long March for Equality
Aug. 12, 1983  Black Political Power
Jan. 18, 1980  Black Leadership Question
Aug. 15, 1973  Black Americans, 1963–1973
Nov. 26, 1969  Racial Discrimination in Craft Unions
Sep. 11, 1968  Black Pride
Feb. 21, 1968  Negro Power Struggle
Mar. 08, 1967  Negroes in the Economy
Jan. 19, 1966  Changing Southern Politics
Oct. 27, 1965  Negroes in the North
Jul. 21, 1965  Negro Revolution: Next Steps
Oct. 14, 1964  Negro Voting
Sep. 21, 1964  Negroes and the Police
Jul. 03, 1963  Right of Access to Public Accommodations
Jan. 23, 1963  Negro Jobs and Education
Mar. 25, 1960  Violence and Non-Violence in Race Relations
Aug. 05, 1959  Negro Employment
Apr. 18, 1956  Racial Issues in National Politics
Apr. 18, 1951  Progress in Race Relations
Dec. 17, 1948  Discrimination in Employment
Jan. 10, 1947  Federal Protection of Civil Liberties
Aug. 25, 1944  The Negro Vote
Jul. 01, 1942  Racial Discrimination and the War Effort
Mar. 25, 1939  Civil and Social Rights of the Negro
Jul. 22, 1927  Disenfranchisement of the Negro in the South
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights: African Americans
Segregation and Desegregation
Voting and Suffrage