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Moravian College Professor Edits Book on Civil Rights Act of 1964

Collection of articles, speeches, text of the law released for landmark legislation’s 40th anniversary

(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)—Robert H. Mayer, professor of education at Moravian College and advisor for the historical studies major in its Department of Education, has edited a book of original sources about a major piece of civil rights legislation.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, part of the Opposing Viewpoints: At Issue in History series published by Greenhaven Press/Thomsen & Gale, will be released this month in time for the 40th anniversary of the legislation.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a key element in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration’s guarantee to assure African-Americans the rights to public equality. Though guaranteed full rights of citizenship by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed shortly after the end of the Civil War, the newly freed slaves found a host of obstacles in their way, designed by Southern policy to keep them separate and second-class.

Known throughout the Southern states as “Jim Crow” laws, such measures came from a Supreme Court decision in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson, which enshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal” schools, housing, and public services. Its measures included segregated drinking fountains, bus-stop benches, and lunch-counter seating, and de facto segregation of public transportation, accommodations, entertainment, and housing developments.

Mayer’s book is intended as a supplement to courses in American history and politics. It includes:

    • Speeches by President John F. Kennedy and Republican senator (and Presidential candidate) Barry Goldwater, for and against the act.

    • The transcript of a U.S. Senate debate by Hubert H. Humphrey, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota, and Russell Long, a conservative Democrat from Louisiana.

    • Essays (some very critical) about the act by African-American leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis, a U.S. Representative from Georgia.

    • Reports on the legacy of the act from newspaper accounts and such authors as Nicholas Lemann, a popular historian who has written on the great northward migration of former slaves and their descendants.

Mayer was chosen for this project after submitting a prospectus for a book on the Birmingham civil rights marches of 1963.

The At Issue series includes books on the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Berlin Wall, Prohibition, genocide in Rwanda, and the FBI standoff with the followers of religious zealot David Kouresh in Waco, Texas.

Mayer holds a Ph.D. in education (curriculum and instruction) from Penn State University and has been on the faculty of Moravian College since 1987. His undergraduate degree (University of Cincinnati) is in social studies education and his master’s degree (Xavier University in Cincinnati) in history.

He teaches advanced courses in teaching methodologies, supervises student teachers of citizenship education (i.e., social studies), and leads a course called “Making History Live” in Moravian’s M.Ed. program for practicing teachers.

He writes on educational subjects for such publications as Social Education, Magazine of History, The Social Studies, and Teacher Education Quarterly; and on historical subjects for youth publications such as Cobblestone magazine, in whose November issue he has an article about Anne Hutchinson, an early feminist who was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for holding prayer and discussion groups with other women in her home. In the March issue of Cobblestone, whose theme is voting rights, he will have an article on African-American voting rights.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at http://www.moravian.edu.