Martin Luther King Jr. once said, Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. Truer words could not be used to describe the people who suffered discrimination and racism because of the ignorance of American people. The act was originally drawn up in 1962 under President Kennedy before his assassination; it survived the rampage of strong Southern opposition in Congress and was signed by successor Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed guaranteeing the end of segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the most controversial and most argued debates passed by the House and Senate debates in history. It was also the biggest piece of civil rights legislation ever passed. The bill actually evolved from previous civil rights bills in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Before the Civil Rights Act, people abode by Jim Crow laws and condoned the Ku Klux Klan. White southerners were not happy with the end of slavery and the idea of living or working equally with blacks whom they considered inferior. To keep-up, the majority of states and local communities passed Jim Crow laws that required separate but equal status for African Americans.
These laws established laws against the opposite race. Jim Crow Laws were established between 1874 and 1975. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation and acted upon the saying “separate but equal”. Colored and white people had different facilities where the colored one would be mediocre at best. Some constitutional amendments had already been passed abolishing slavery, made slaves citizens, and have all men the right to vote. In the South however, African americans were constantly threatened and were afraid of voting and jeopardizing their safety; even if colored people were allowed to vote, they had to pass a literacy test none of the white men had to take and even then were threatened by people with authority.
John F. Kennedy was elected to president on January 1961. He was pushed into taking action against the South’s police brutality. In Birmingham, Alabama, authorities controlled nonviolent demonstrations with dogs, clubs, and high-pressure hoses. Although concerned about losing Southern support for reelection, he began working on a bill to end segregation. Opposed by Congress, the bill was never supported enough to pass and the KKK didn’t help either. He was assassinated November 22, 1963 in Dallas while in a motorcade. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson stepped up to President and continued Kennedy’s work, Let this session of congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined., said Johnson in his first state of the Union address. The House of Representatives debated for nine days, rejecting nearly 100 amendments designed to weaken the bill. At the senate, some final challenges presented themselves. The bill’s expansion of federal powers and its potential to anger constituents who might retaliate in the voting booth were feared.
The bill passed the house on February 10, 1964 after 70 days of public hearings, appearances by 275 witnesses, and 5,792 pages of published testimony says the Constitutional Rights Foundation says The Civil Rights Act of 1964 published by A&E Television Networks. The senate voted 73-27 in favor of the bill and Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964 banning segregation in all public places including courthouses, parks, restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, and hotels; a person could not be denied because of the color of their skin. 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, the 38th Vice President of the United States, former United States Senator Everett Dirksen who nurtured the bill through compromised discussions, and to civil rights leaders like the well-known Martin Luther King Jr. who said it was nothing less than a second emancipation.
Once the bill was approved and signed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision opened; they could and would file lawsuits on behalf of workers making the workplace more equal and forced bosses or recruiters to not discriminate against the workers knowing if they did they would be sued says the National Archive: Educator Resources. Not only were discriminatory people being sued, but federal funds could no longer be used for any racial programs whose sole mission was to discriminate against colored people. The Office of Education was also given funds to help desegregate schools and prohibited the unequal application of voting requirements.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prohibited literacy tests and other discriminatory voting practices set in place to stop colored people from voting and violated their 15th amendment rights: the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. says the Library of Congress. Also, thanks to both of these acts, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed banning discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of property.
Thanks to the bill, voter registration of the eligible black population increased from under seven percent in 1965 to more than 70 percent in 1967 in Mississippi. In 1990, 66.2% of all African Americans 25 years or older had completed high school, while in 1997 the percentage increased to 74.9%. They began getting an opportunity to study, go to school, and get a better job. People who had been racially discriminated against were going onto higher education; in 1996, only 1,563 doctorates were awarded and had a 48% increase since 1987.
People back then needed dentists just like now. Women were starting to expand from staying at home and doing domestic jobs. They could go to school now and turned to dentistry. Women earned only one percent of professional dental degrees in 1972 and increased to 36% in 1996. This means both colored men and women started getting jobs and joining men after they could no longer be discriminated because of the color of their skin and their sex. Not only were people working to graduate from college, but also pursuing higher education including doctorates. In 1971, only 14% of women achieving doctoral degrees and increased to 40% in 1996.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to growing equality in women’s rights, disability rights, gay rights, and immigrant rights. It was a new era, a new chapter in the book, as discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin was outlawed. It paved the way for desegregation and the prohibition of discrimination in public places and within agencies. It improved the black and colored community. They could now go anywhere they wanted to without fearing racism or being turned away because of the color of their skin. Colored people could use the same bathrooms as whites and didn’t have social barriers when it came to socializing and even finding jobs.
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