Civil Rights Act of 1965
December 18, 2014
Civil Rights Act of 1965
The 1964 Civil Rights Act was a landmark in legislative attempts to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minority groups. Civil rights has had a long history as a political and legislative issue, the 1960s marked a period of intense activity by the government to protect minority rights. The Act did not resolve all problems of discrimination; it did however opened the door to further talks and progress lessen racial restrictions on the use of public bathrooms, waiting rooms, buses, and provided more job opportunities, strengthening voting laws, and limiting federal ...view middle of the document...
During the 1950s, they began to protest their treatment more publicly and actively as they demanded comprehensive protection of their civil rights.
African American protesters pointed to a number of social discriminations from which they suffered. Segregation prevented them from using a variety of public facilities on an equal basis with whites. African Americans were restricted in their use of public city buses, park facilities, and restrooms, for instance. An educational opportunity was limited by the practice of separating African Americans and whites and providing African Americans with substandard instructional equipment. Employment practices throughout the South and in many northern cities restricted African Americans' ability to advance economically and therefore allowed very few to rise from poverty.
In addition to challenging segregation in the courts, African Americans relied increasingly upon direct action to publicize their plight by staging sit-ins and boycotts. Perhaps the most dramatic of the early protests was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s demonstration in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Protesting rules that required them to sit in the backs of buses, African Americans refused to use public transportation and picketed against the regulations. The protest soon spread as African Americans boycotted white Montgomery businesses in an effort to slow down business and to force businessmen to support African American demands. After months of confrontation and some violence, the city agreed to end seating requirements on buses, signaling a symbolic victory for civil rights workers in the South. Similar protests grew up throughout the South, highlighted by violence in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 during school desegregation demonstrations. This soon became a nation’s problem, as television brought pictures of African Americans being held back by cattle prods and dogs snarling, even water cannons being used on what appeared to be a peaceful demonstration.
President Kennedy set forth a legislative package June 11, 1963, that had eleven parts to it including equal employment opportunity, voting privileges, desegregation of public education and allowing African Americans to utilize and public facility. It would take a little over a year for the government to finally get the votes needed to pass the act.
On July 2, 1964, President Johnson spoke the following words before signing the bill:
Lyndon Johnson’s speech as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
My fellow Americans:
I am about to sign into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I want to take this occasion to talk to you about what that law means to every American.
One hundred and eighty-eight years ago this week a small band of valiant men began a long struggle for freedom. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor not only to found a nation, but to forge an ideal of freedom—not only for political independence, but for personal liberty—not only to eliminate...