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And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 20, 2009


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The War That Forged a Nation
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson looks anew at the reasons America's civil war has remained a subject of intense interest for the past century and a half. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Berry, former chair and longest-serving member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, examines the struggle of this body to maintain its independence in monitoring the U.S. government and encouraging the nation to remain true to its ideals of equality. Started in 1957, the commission became the nation’s conscience during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Although Democratic presidents, including Carter and Clinton, have had their difficulties with the commission, it was Reagan and both presidents Bush who sought to undercut the commission’s independent fact-finding and reporting functions in favor of complete support for their administrations’ policies. Although race, particularly discrimination against blacks, was the initial focus, over time attention shifted to other minorities, as well as women, gays, and the disabled. However, in later years, Berry notes a more politically partisan slant to the commission. She recommends that the commission both refocus on its original commitment and expand its scope to both civil and human rights so that America’s compliance can be placed in the context of international human rights standards to provide some much-needed self-criticism. --Vernon Ford

Review

“A powerful and inspiring story of the American civil rights movement–a story of change, vision and courage.  Change has come to America and one of the ways it happened was through the work of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, formed against all odds in 1957 by President Eisenhower and the Congress. The commission, during its five decades on the battlefront of injustice and inequality, moved far beyond Eisenhower’s initial vision for it, and became a major factor in the success of the civil rights movement that has led us to the victories we enjoy today. Attacked and undermined at times by politicians and unsympathetic Presidents, the commission invited ordinary people to testify at its hearings in their towns and cities and in Washington, D.C.  Sometimes under threat of reprisal, even death, those struggling for equal justice came to rely upon the commission’s impartiality, and independence.  It was the commission’s reports and recommendations that helped to gain the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the language minority protections enacted in 1975, the Age Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.  Mary Frances Berry, the commission’s chairperson for a decade, has written its too little-known history. It is an important, galvanizing and moving book.”

–President Bill Clinton
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307263207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307263209
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,696,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Frances Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of nine books. The recipient of thirty-three honorary degrees, she has been chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is a regular contributor to Politico, and has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Anderson Cooper 360, The Daily Show, Tavis Smiley, and PBS's NewsHour.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Eiland on April 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr Berry has written a compelling story of the troubled history of the Civil Rights Commission. It focuses on the people who came to the Commission for help and not just on the Commissioners. It includes numerous pictures of the ordinary people who were helped. It also includes details of the conflicts with successive Presidents who were reluctant to enforce civil rights - some of whom will surprise you. It traces the history of the Commission which time and again had to struggle to maintain it's existence against numerous forces bent on it's destruction.
Not only is it a very scholarly book with abundant notes including White House documents and oral interviews, but it is also a very readable book. It makes a persuasive case for a human rights commission patterned after the original Civil Rights Commission to deal with today's problems and issues. Anyone who is interested in how we continue to move forward and how we came this far should be interested in this book
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By njf on March 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Mary Frances Berry for years. There is no other in her category of presenting truth with fairness...honesty, integrity, passion and a desire that justice be sought, fought for and cherished. Mary Frances is someone to be trusted, looked up to and believed. She does not sugar-coat or varnish truth.
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Format: Hardcover
The attitude Americans have about the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR) will depend upon their view about the need for civil rights laws and enforcement thereof. If one thinks African Americans and other minorities already enjoy equal opportunity, then such a Commission will seem superfluous at best and radical at worst. On the other hand, an active CCR will appear indispensable to those who recognize that equal opportunity does not and has not existed, and that today's less overt racial barriers perpetuate inequality.

Mary Frances Berry, one of the longest serving CCR commissioners, was nominated by President Carter in 1980 and nominated by President Clinton for chairman in 1993, a position she held for 11 years. Berry has long been unpopular with conservatives, due to such liberal positions as supporting Anita Hill, and advocating affirmative action and equal rights for gays. She has written a detailed history of the CCR, though it's not strictly chronological, so the reader must sometimes go back and forth to keep the timeline straight.

At its best, the CCR consistently monitored federal enforcement of civil rights laws, investigated violations, and reported their findings and recommendations. Berry decries the more recent ineffectiveness, which she attributes to the appointment of conservatives who lack commitment to strictly enforcing the laws and crafting remedies to make victims whole.

The CCR was created in 1957 near the end of the Eisenhower administration when Ike was under pressure to address the growing protest against racially discriminatory laws. It took Senate Majority Leader LBJ to overcome a filibuster and get the Commission through Congress, though as a temporary expedient.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emily Tynes on April 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I did not realize the major role this little known government agency played in turning the hopes of the civil rights movement into law that has changed America. The author details how Commissioners courageously held hearings and made investigations even when threatened by local opponents of the change the civil rights protestors sought. More importantly. people who suffered abuse from beatings and shootings and whose livelihoods were threatened came to tell the Commission their concerns and received help. The commissioners also took on government officials even presidents who were slow to enforce the law so many had struggled to achieve. It is a wonderful story. beautifully written, that celebrates without over romanticizing our history. "
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John D. Sens on April 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mary Frances Barry's biased, self-congratulatory, polemic of the trials and travails of the civil rights commission over the past decades and her brilliant participation in it. Lots of minutae especially in discussing how presidential administrations, after Eisenhower, were not as deferential to the commission as she believes they should have been. She blames the Reagan administration particularly for inflicting permanent damage on the commission. Barry reaches the conclusion du jour that there has been progress in civil rights since Eisenhower was president but there is still a long way to go, notwithstanding the successes of black Americans including Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama. Nothing new or insightful. This overlong book would have benefited from competent editing.
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