Civil Rights and Protests

Race Riots

What was the importance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the most important pieces of domestic legislation of the post-World War II era. Congressional concern for civil rights lessened after Reconstruction and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 1883 to nullify the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The U.S. Congress did not address the issue again until 1957, when it was under pressure from the modern Civil Rights Movement, and then it was only a feeble attempt to redress civil wrongs. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was a modest statute that created the Civil Rights Commission with the authority to investigate civil rights violations; however, it lacked enforcement provisions and it was a weak corrective for voting rights violations. The Civil Rights Act of 1960 only slightly reinforced the voting rights provisions. The 1964 act had eleven main provisions or titles. Several strengthened the Civil Rights Commission and the voting rights provisions in the 1957 and 1960 acts. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is among the Civil Rights Movement’s most enduring legacies. It was directed specifically at removing barriers to equal access and opportunity that affected blacks. It greatly extended the reach of federal protection and led to a major restructuring of the nation’s sense of justice; it also expanded legal protections to other minority groups. Beneficiaries of blacks’ struggle for freedom included women, the disabled, gays and lesbians, the elderly, and other groups who experienced discrimination.


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