Abstract: Profound changes in American racial attitudes and practices occurred during the second half of the twentieth century. This chapter examines the social and political conditions that enabled the modern civil rights revolution and situates the Court's racial rulings in their historical context. Several decisions in the 1960s expanded the concept of state action, enabling the justices to strike at instances of race discrimination that previously were thought beyond the reach of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court began to revolutionize First Amendment doctrine, criminal procedure, the law of federal courts, and habeas corpus rules, based largely on the justices' conviction that Southern states could not be trusted to deal fairly with matters involving race. Changing social and political circumstances halted civil rights progress just as the movement reached its zenith. As civil rights leaders shifted their focus to the North and broadened their objectives to include economic redistribution, many previously sympathetic whites became alienated from the movement.