CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in open places and disallowed 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. 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.
LEAD-UP TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
Following the Civil War (1861-1865), a trio of constitutional amendments abolished slavery, made the former slaves citizens and gave all men the right to vote regardless of race. Nonetheless, many states–particularly in the South–used poll taxes, literacy tests and other similar measures to keep their African-American residents essentially disenfranchised. They also enforced strict segregation through “Jim Crow” laws and condoned violence from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
DID YOU KNOW
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with at least 75 pens, which he handed out to congressional supporters of the bill such as Hubert Humphrey and Everett Dirksen and to civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Roy Wilkins.
I think President John F. Kennedy did a great job for enforcing an end to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in the United States. A President can be a powerful voice to get Congress to act.