Legislation

Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Evansville Courier headline describes the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson.

 

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation; it was originally proposed by President Kennedy on June 19, 1963 and was signed into law on July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964:

  • Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements.
  • Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theatres, and all other public accommodations.
  • Prohibited state and municipalities from denying access to public facilities on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin.
  • Encouraged desegregation of public schools and authorized the U.S. Attorney General to file suits enforcing the Act.
  • Expanded the Civil Rights Commission established by the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
  • Prevented discrimination by government agencies that received federal funds.

Civil Rights activists had been pushing society and politicians into supporting the legislation, the March for Jobs and Freedom also known as the March on Washington DC  solidified their commitment for change into the souls of Americans.

The assassination of President Kennedy was a setback for civil rights activist and supporters of the legislation. News of Kennedy’s death was received with cheers because of his support for civil rights. His successor, Lyndon Johnson, a southerner from Texas, insisted that the bill be passed without any compromises

The 1964 Civil Rights Act empowered the Justice Department and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to investigate and enforce claims of racial discrimination. The Civil Rights division of the Justice Department and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission were created by the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

The voting rights section of this Act was seen as lacking strength by civil rights activist which stimulated demonstrations. As a result the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was  passed the following year.

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