Civil Rights Act of 1964 Ashley a.

Considered one of the most monumental legislations in history, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 granted multiple important civil rights to African Americans. Many of its titles prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin, as well as gender. It faced much controversy in the South when it was passed by the U.S Congress, but was considered a groundbreaking step towards racial and social equality.

HARLEM: RACE RIOTS- Policemen confronting and beating groups of African American protesters, July 1964.

Segregation was present in the southern states, even after the Civil War ended. African Americans were restricted to only using facilities meant for them, and Southern state legislatures passed black codes to prevent them from many basic rights. This included certain jobs and professions, sitting on juries, testifying against white people in court, and many more. African Americans were denied basic education, which meant most wouldn't be able to pass the literacy requirements required to vote.

In 1955, Rosa Parks violated a city law in Montgomery, Alabama, which required African Americans to give their bus seats to whites when told so by the driver. After being arrested for this act, the local NAACP chapter, led by a young Martin Luther King Jr., organized a bus boycott in the city's system. After the successful results, King and Parks became well known visible leaders in the fight to end the United States' segregation.
President John F. Kennedy (left) and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson (right)

President John F. Kennedy's lack of response to the growing issues in the South motivated King and other fellow protesters to organize multiple peaceful acts. One main focus was Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, after the citizens of America were shown graphic footage on television of the violence used against the peaceful protesters, including methods such as dogs and fire hoses. Eventually, Kennedy had no choice but to respond to the matters.

The next president, Lyndon B. Johnson, made the new Civil Rights Act one of his top priorities to pass. Johnson was able to pass the bill and sign it into law within the first 6 months of his presidency, which banned discrimination based on color, race, or national origin in public facilities. Discrimination against gender in employment was also banned.

After its passage, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made a major step in the process towards giving American minorities more basic rights and opportunities. It was followed by two other important legislations, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act/Civil Rights Act of 1968. These civil rights bills became amended over time, and make up today's freedoms for the people.

President Johnson shaking hands with Martin Luther King Jr. at the signing of 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... Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom. Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities..."
"We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment..." -President Johnson's speech on the Civil Rights Act

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