Chapter 7: The "Bright Sunshine of Human Rights"
No single issue would more do more to divide America in the second half of the 20th century than race. Though that divisive struggle would not take full form until the 1960s, the first shot was fired in 1948, at the Democratic National Convention, by Hubert Humphrey. Relying on his position in the party as an advocate for civil rights, Humphrey would deliver one of the most memorable speeches in American political history when he called on the Democratic Party to come together in support of civil rights and “get out of the shadow of state’s rights and to walk forthrightly into the brighter sunshine of human rights.’”
Humphrey’s word and the subsequent victory of the civil rights plank to the Democratic party platform would spur delegates from Deep South states to walk out of the convention and run Strom Thurmond as a third party candidate. This would presage the eventual dissolution of the Solid South-led New Deal coalition. But it would not stop Harry Truman, who won in November on the strength of robust African-American support, and would begin a process that would culminate 16 years later in the signing of the landmark Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson