Much of the activity in the 1960s revolving about civil rights reflected the belief that racism was a personal flaw which could be corrected by the proper adjustment of federal laws to give substance to the promises of citizenship. George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and Bull Connor all personified racism with their determined efforts to prevent blacks from achieving full citizenship rights and their excesses spurred them to action when it was believed that with the power of the federal government curbing the activities of a few die-hard racists discrimination would finally be conquered. The emphasis on personal attitudes obscured the deeply ingrained institutional views of race which had systematically discriminated against minority groups for decades. Correcting individual patterns of behavior, people believed, would also cure institutional practices since it was apparent to everyone that institutions were ultimately composed of people.

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