Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, 1965-1990
Edited by: Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman
Princeton University Press, 1994, 503pp.

Reviewed by Janet Sims-Wood, Ph.D.

The editors of this volume assert that this book is the first systematic attempt to measure the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, commonly regarded as the most effective civil rights legislation of the century. With a wealth of detailed evidence, the contributors to this volume show how Blacks and Mexican Americans in the South, along with the Justice Department, have used the Voting Rights Act and the U. S. Constitution to overcome the resistance of white officials to minority mobilization.

The book tells the story of the Black struggle for equal political participation in eight core southern states from the end of the Civil War to the 1980s - with special emphasis on the period since 1965. Because the most severe discrimination occurred against Blacks in the South, the special provisions of the Act were targeted toward that region. Seven states have been continuously covered entirely or in part by the Act's special provisions: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and forty of the one hundred counties of North Carolina. Since 1975 Texas has also been covered by the Act's special provisions.

This volume is an outgrowth of a long series of legal cases on voting rights. Among the authors of the principal chapters in the book, there is at least one who litigated or worked as an expert witness in the major cases that he or she writes about.

Chapter 1 describes the legal context in which the battle for minority participation was fought and shows how the act evolved synergistically with the constitutional voting rights protections that were elucidated in a series of federal court decisions beginning in 1960 and continuing into the 1980s.

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November 1999