The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that prohibited forms of discrimination against African Americans. The Act ended unequal voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, the workplace, and public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act paved the way for equality and integration forever changing society’s discourses. The Act demonstrates society’s views of civil rights activity, the obstacles to political and social change, and the rights of African Americans.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241) and was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. The major features of the Civil Rights Act are equal voting rights, equal public accommodations, desegregation of public facilities, desegregation of public education, Civil Rights Commission, nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, and equal employment opportunities. The Civil Rights Movement and the reactions it caused would lead to the birth of the strongest civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was spurred by many events. The Brown vs. Board of Education decision was the most important influence in encouraging federal action to protect civil rights. The Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities also prompted the civil rights movement. Also events like Martin Luther’s demonstration in Montgomery, the March on Washington, sit-ins in Greensboro and Nashville, the violence at the Little Rock school, and the Freedom Rides all contributed to undeniable signs that social conditions for African Americans required legislative attention.
Social pressures also spurred this change forcing government to take action. Society’s discourses had changed dramatically between World War II and 1964. Young Americans were getting involved in society’s issues moving away from the traditional values of the past. Many white Americans favored desegregation and equal rights for all and in 1964 only one third of white Americans felt black Americans were demanding too much or that the civil rights movement was going too fast. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 shows how the Idea of America is shifting from he old traditional values of “separate but equal” to the belief that everyone has a chance to achieve the American dream regardless of color. The Act reflects the changing nature of social conditions in the U. S. In Kennedy’s address on June 11, 1963 he encourages all Americans to take action to guarantee equal treatment of every individual regardless of color. President Johnson also believed in this. Johnson’s “The Great Society” promotes abundance and liberty for all and to put an end to poverty and racial injustice.
These laws were designed to help deliver the promise that every individual has the right to develop his or her talents to the fullest. The Act was a major victory not only to minorities, but for women giving new hope, relief, and opportunities to every American spurring organizations like the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. It also made possible the Medicaid-Medicare legislation of 1965, which led to improved health status of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority groups. The National Housing Act also provided equal housing opportunities although some were affected by “Red Lining’.
The Act raised moral claims that could not be disputed and provided possibilities for other socially-marginalized groups. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 paved the way for many opportunities enjoyed by Americans today and asserts that the Idea of America is for all. Americans often take for granted the rights we enjoy today and Americans must remember the great sacrifices of those who fought for these rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forever changed the lives for both white and black Americans and those freedoms are still enjoyed today making the Act one of the most important pieces of our nation’s heritage.