You will point to the Supreme Court decisions that have upheld Negro rights, to education in integrated schools. It seems to me that our motives are judged by the real fruit of our decisions. What have we done? We have been willing to grant the Negro rights on paper, even in the South. But the laws have been framed in such a way that in every case their execution has depended on the good will of white society, and the white man has not failed, when left to himself, to block, obstruct, or simply forget the necessary action without which the rights of the Negro cannot be enjoyed in fact. Hence, when laws have been passed, then contested, dragged through the courts, and finally upheld, the Negro is still in no position to benefit by them without, in each case, entering into further interminable lawsuits every time he wants to exercise a right that is guaranteed to him by law.
In effect, we are not really giving the Negro a right to live where likes, eat where he likes, go to school where he likes or work where he likes, but only to sue the white man who refuses to let him do these things. If every time I want an ice cream soda I have to sue the owner of the drugstore, I think I will probably keep going to the same old places in my ghetto. That is what the Negro, until recently, has done. Such laws are without meaning unless they reflect a willingness on the part of white society to implement them.
-- Thomas Merton, Letters to a White Liberal, 1963