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We also more briefly explored three other contexts: the modern claims for equal rights of women, gays and lesbians, and Hispanic and Asian ethnic minorities. In two of these contexts — women and gays/lesbians — the claims followed the same pattern of the Second Reconstruction: that is, reliance on the courts in enunciating constitutional rights and political mobilization through popular protest movements. In the third context — the status of Hispanic and Asian minorities — there has been, relatively speaking, much less reform-minded effort directed at courts or popular protests. Our consideration of these three contexts helped us distill lessons about the general effectiveness for advancing minority rights of the strategy laid down in the civil rights struggles by and on behalf of African-Americans. The curriculum units prepared by Joseph Corsetti on the rights of gays and lesbians, by Deborah Fetzer on the campaign for women's suffrage, and by Meredith Tilp on Hispanic identify reflected this aspect of our seminar.
The ambitious agenda for our seminar sessions inevitably meant that we skimmed only over the surface of extraordinarily complex events in attempting to distill comparative lessons from different historical eras regarding different minority groups. The curriculum units prepared by the seminar Fellows gave much more detailed attention to specific topics related to the broad themes that we discussed together.
Robert A. Burt