The Civil Rights Act of 1964, also known as the “bill of the century” which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. First proposed by President John F.
Kennedy, it survived strong opposition from southern members of Congress and was then signed into law by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In subsequent years, Congress expanded the act and also passed additional legislation aimed at bringing equality to African Americans, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.The greatest achievements against economic discrimination of the African-American population was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited any discrimination in employment and public accommodation, as well as passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination of black people in rental of housing and sale of property and paved the way for African American rights today. From 1881 to 1964 the Jim Crow laws were a set of laws in 26 states that allowed the legal segregation of Americans by races. Americans lived in separate parts of town by races were able to sit in a specific part of a bus by races and were only allowed to eat in certain restraints. Among the 26 states that permitted segregation 11 of them seceded from the union in 1861 which established the Confederate states. The confederate states only had one goal in mind to keep slavery alive.
After the civil war ended, some Americans believed African Americans were not ready for a free life which is where the Jim Crow laws started. (Tischauser, 2012)In 1883 congress ruled that the protection of the rights guaranteed by the 14th amendment applied only to the states and not the individual. Thus and 1875 act of congress prohibiting discrimination against blacks in Inns, theaters, and other public places was declared unconstitutional because it was limiting private behavior rather than state behavior. How different would today’s society be if the law of 1883 would have passed? (Loevy, 1997) This 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine.
It all started with an incident that happened in 1892 in which an African American train passenger named Homer Plessy refused to sit in a Jim Crow car, breaking a Louisiana state law. Ignoring Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were being violated, the Court ruled that a state law that implies ” merely a legal distinction” between whites and blacks did not conflict with the 13th and 14th Amendments. Limited legislation based on race continued following the Plessy decision, it’s reasoning not overturned until Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954(History, 2009). Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 included provisions to strengthen the voting rights of African Americans in the South, these measures were relatively weak and did not prevent states and election officials from practices that effectively continued to deny southern blacks the vote. Moreover, in their attempts to expand black voter registration, civil rights activists met with the fierce opposition and hostility of Southern white segregationists, many of whom were entrenched in positions of authority.
The vicious beatings and murders of civil rights workers after the passage of the Civil Rights Act radicalized some black activists, who became skeptical of nonviolent, integrationist tactics and began to adopt a more radical approach. On March 7, 1965, six hundred activists set out on a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery to peacefully protest the continued violations of African Americans’ civil rights. When they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, hundreds of deputies and state troopers attacked them with tear gas, nightsticks, and electric cattle prods. Just one week after this horrific attack president Johnson delivered a nationwide address in which he declared that “all Americans must have the privileges of citizenship regardless of race.” And just a few months after that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed on August 6th 1965.The civil rights act of 1964 changed the lives for millions of Americans.
This act made a pathway for many other acts and rights to follow including the right for African Americans to be able to legally vote to be able to marry which ever race they choose, go to school where they choose and even eat where they choose. Without this act sent in place our world today would be a much different place .