This Month in History

The Signing of the Civil Rights Act


2nd July 1964 – Signing of the Civil Rights Act

One of the most important and far reaching pieces of legislation in modern America, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

In June 1963 President Kennedy called for a bill to end the ability of business to deny service on the basis of race, and to extend voter protections while extending the powers of the 1875 Civil Rights Act to enable the Federal Government to join lawsuits against State Governments. Following Kennedy’s assassination in November, President Johnson placed much of his political capital in passing the bill and had to wrangle the necessary votes in the face of fierce opposition.

Though the bill passed congress on June 19th and was signed into law on July 2nd, the consequences of the bill were far reaching. The Southern States which had been a Democratic stronghold since the Civil War were lost to the Democrats following the bill’s passing and the political-geography of the USA as we know it, has been shaped in response to its provisions.


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