Massachusetts was a leader in civil rights beginning with the abolition movement in the 1830s. It produced such leaders as W. E. B. Du Bois, a native of Great Barrington, who helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. Senator Edward Brooke, a liberal Republican, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, becoming the first black senator since the Civil War era.
In the 1970s interracial conflict broke out in Massachusetts, centered around school desegregation in Boston. In 1974 a federal court ruled that Boston school officials had deliberately kept public schools segregated, and it ordered busing of students to achieve more racial balance. Many whites violently opposed the busing program, and racial incidents, including beatings and firebombings, brought Boston national attention.
For most of the 1980s, the Massachusetts economy enjoyed a major boom, fueled by the continued growth of the high-technology industry and defense spending. Unemployment remained well below the national average, and the number of people on public welfare declined sharply. Governor Dukakis termed this boom the “Massachusetts Miracle” in his presidential campaign of 1988. By the end of the decade, however, economic growth began to slow, partly as a result of federal cuts in defense spending.
Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage after the state’s highest court ruled that same-sex marriages were permitted under the state constitution.
On May 17, 2004, authorities in Massachusetts performed the first legal same-sex marriages in the United States. However, opponents of gay marriage promised to try to amend the state constitution to ban such marriages.
In 2006 Massachusetts elected its first black governor, Deval Patrick, a Democrat and former civil rights attorney. Patrick’s election ended a 20-year stretch in which Republicans dominated the Massachusetts statehouse. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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