The history of civil rights in the United States is usually analyzed and interpreted through the lenses of modern conservatism and progressive liberalism. In Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, author Jonathan Bean argues that the historical record does not conveniently fit into either of these categories and that knowledge of the American classical liberal tradition is required to gain a more accurate understanding of the past, present, and future of civil liberties in the nation. By assembling and contextualizing classic documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning school assignment by race, Bean demonstrates that classical liberalism differs from progressive liberalism in emphasizing individual freedom, Christianity, the racial neutrality of the Constitution, complete color-blindness, and free-market capitalism. A comprehensive and vital resource for scholars and students of civil liberties, Race and Liberty in America presents a wealth of primary sources that trace the evolution of civil rights throughout U.S. history.
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