III. The Promise of a Dream: Preventing Racial Segregation and Discrimination in Health Care

      Throughout the 1960s, African Americans waged national and international battles to obtain the rights of full citizenship in the United States. The civil rights movement focused on equality of rights in every area of life, including the right to quality health care. The disenfranchisement of African Americans seeking health care did not change until African Americans forced the government to comply with the Constitutional mandates of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In 1962, African Americans filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against hospitals in North Carolina receiving Hill-Burton funding. The federal government intervened on behalf of the plaintiffs and further tried to eradicate racial discrimination with the passage of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Medicare and Medicaid Acts. The Medicare and Medicaid programs provided extra federal funding to make Title VI compliance attractive to nursing homes. The language of Title VI requires that nursing homes in receipt of federal funding do not discriminate. Nevertheless, the funding was not enough to induce nursing homes' compliance with Title VI and the dream of equality has been denied to elderly African Americans once again.