Until I read this, I had been disappointed that Thomas J. Sugrue’s Sweet Land of Liberty was ignoring the passage of civil rights legislation at the state level and the polling data that I had seen in other sources about changing White racial attitudes in the North after the Second World War:
“In America’s federal system, states and localities are often incubators of innovative public policy – and that was particularly true in the case of civil rights. Between 1945 and 1964, twenty-nine states outside the South enacted fair employment practice laws.
Sugrue focuses on New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to show how the growth of the black electorate in Northern swing states during and after WW2 forced the Democrats and Republicans to compete for the black vote.
At the state level, the result was fair employment practice laws which outlawed racial discrimination in employment and subjected Northern employers to state oversight long before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.