University of Illinois Law Review
In this David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, Professor Sunstein begins by noting that participants in the civil rights movement were often backward looking and even conservative, invoking commitments from the nation's past and arguing against reliance on the judiciary and the Supreme Court. They stressed above all two time-honored liberal principles: freedom from desperate conditions and opposition to caste. It is wrong to say (as many now do) that the movement was founded on a principle of race neutrality, and also wrong to say (as some now do) that the movement was opposed to "categories" or "binary oppositions." Professor Sunstein then raises important issues of character by exploring the works of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. He concludes by discussing the risks of dehumanization and brutality in movements committed to significant social change.
Cass R. Sunstein, "What the Civil Rights Movement Was and Wasn't," 1995 University of Illinois Law Review 191 (1995).