Civil Rights Act

Next Tuesday, 2 July 2024

President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964. It bans employers from discriminating against anyone based on race, religion, color, national origin, or sex. It outlaws segregation in public places and schools. 

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a historical achievement of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the most important laws ever enacted in the United States. However, July 2 is not a public holiday so schools and businesses remain open as usual.

President Lyndon B Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
President Lyndon B Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964

About the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The legislation passed on July 2, 1964, effectively banned segregation not only in schools but also in public places such as hotels, parks, restaurants, theaters, and courthouses. This meant that people could no longer be refused service based on their race, religion, or nationality. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees and job aspirants from discrimination based on race, religion, gender, color, national origin, and pregnancy in any circumstance related to employment. Title VII is applicable to employers who have 15 or more employees working under them. In 2020, The United States passed a law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ employees as well.  

It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which gave workers the right to file lawsuits if someone does not abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Eventually, the law was expanded to include disabled citizens, the elderly, and women in collegial sports.

Civil Rights Act History

During the Reconstruction Era (1861- 1900), the United States government passed laws against discrimination based on race, namely the abolishment of slavery, making former slaves citizens, and allowing men of any race to vote. However, in many states, such as Southern states, measures were carried out to prevent African American citizens from voting and being employed. Here, strict segregation laws known as "Jim Crow Law" were established. 

In 1957 the Justice Department set up a civil rights section and a Commission on Civil Rights. Its purpose was to look into discriminatory conditions. During the spring of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement set up many demonstrations, one of which ended with police brutality against the black demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama. In its aftermath, President JFK moved into action. He proposed the Civil Rights Act during his Report to the American People on Civil Rights, a television address to the country on June 11, 1963. 

Kennedy's proposed legislation aimed at giving all citizens the right to frequent any public facilities, and giving disenfranchised Americans the right to vote. However, the Civil Rights Movement wanted the Civil Rights Act to offer more protection against police brutality, and an end to employment discrimination. When Kennedy proposed the bill to the House of Representatives, he was met with strong opposition from Southern congressmen. They argued that the law was against local customs.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and succeeded by President Lyndon B. Johnson. One of Johnson's first stances as a president was to support Kennedy's Civil Rights Act cause. He was also met with hostile opposition from segregation supporters, including a 75-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate. 

After the long filibuster was broken, and after gaining the needed support of two-thirds of the Senate, a vote was made. As a result, the bill won with 73-27 of Senators voting in favor of the Civil Rights Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson then signed and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Civil Rights Act Aftermath

The Civil Rights Act gave rise to two other very important laws: the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act. The former barred landlords from discriminating when selling or renting a property. It also banned discrimination from banks when offering housing financing.

The Voting Rights Act, on the other hand, put a stop to discriminatory voting practices such as literacy tests. Martin Luther King Jr. called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the "second emancipation".

Civil Rights Act
Civil Rights Act

Civil Rights Act - Next years

Wednesday, 02 July 2025

Thursday, 02 July 2026

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