The Modern Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1964
Gains for disenfranchised groups varied during this era. Hispanics lost ground as they experienced mass deportations of legal and illegal immigrants in Operation Wetback, educational segregation in Southwest schools, and police brutality cases that rocked Los Angeles. In contrast, the re-emergence of a women's rights movement in the 1960s resulted in significant civil rights gains: adoption of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, the prohibition of gender inequality in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the breaching of barriers to employment for women. Asian Americans began their own social, cultural, and political initiatives to challenge the status quo and advance their civil rights. Increased civil rights activity cast a shadow on the nation's immigration policies, which particularly impacted Asian immigrants. While the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 (the Immigration and Nationality Act) permitted Japanese immigrants to become citizens, it contained restrictive quotas based on race and country of origin. Chinese Americans, especially during the McCarthy era, found themselves targets of suspicion and possible deportation following the Communist takeover of China. This would be rectified with the 1965 amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Just as American Indian groups began embracing their cultures with groups such as the National Indian Youth Council, there were an increased calls for assimilation. States and the Federal government pressed for absorption of tribal groups into society through the termination of the trust relationships.
During this same time, the homophile movement grew and changed direction. Gays and lesbians in the "bar culture" engaged in various forms of resistance to police repression by insisting on their right to gather in public. In cities across the country, for example, working-class lesbian bars nurtured a world where women made public their same-sex desire. This cultural resistance, along with the formal political efforts of homophile organizations, laid the basis for the contemporary gay and lesbian movement.