Civil rights movement of 1964 was a revolution that emanated from oppressions, discrimination and segregation, especially among the blacks. Through the movement, the civil rights act of 1964 was passed by the congress. It outlawed racial, gender, religion and nation of origin discrimination. The civil rights act of 1964 was the first legislation on human rights to be enacted in the US. Through the passing of two significant civil rights laws, the civil rights act of 1964 was a major success.
Although several amendments were done on American laws to outlaw slavery, promote equal protection for all citizens, guarantee citizenship and ensure that each and every citizen in the US had the right to vote, most of such laws were only on paper, and thus discrimination in the US thrived. Although the several amendments that were done on the American constitution bore no fruit in the fight against discrimination of minority groups in the country, they acted as eye-openers for them to fight for their rights. Particularly, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were meant to completely outlaw and abolish slavery, but they made no significant impact in cushioning the minorities against unfair treatments. As such, minority groups living in the US were aggrieved of the increased discrimination beside it being outlawed. Activists and minority societies had no option other than to go to the streets and demand that the spirit of the law be followed to the letter. Most importantly, it was after the World War II that minority groups mounted more pressure on the government in a bid to have them treated equally (Constitution Rights Foundation, 2014).
Among the most notable challenges on the status quo was the supreme court case of Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education in Kansas that raised eyebrows by questioning the notion of “separate but equal” in the education sector. From the Supreme Court finding, “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and in fact, a clear violation of the 14th amendment of the American constitution. The decision emanated debate, polarized the American citizens and encouraged more civil unrests among the minority communities in the US. Additionally, between 1945 and 1957, although the Congress considered civil rights bill, the failed to pass it for all the 11 years it was tabled in the house. The congress inability to pass the civil rights bill further acted as a catalyst to encourage more civil rights movements across several parts of the country (Constitution Rights Foundation, 2014).
The revolution further continued after the civil rights bill was passed by the congress in 1957. Most of the amendments that had been done on the civil rights bill were moderate, and as such, only acted as a cushion, and not a civil rights gain to by the minority groups in the US. Finally, the US government gave in to the rising unrests and the United States Commission on Civil Rights was formed to address issues and concerns that were raised by the minority groups. However, major groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), boycotts and minority groups demanded that they be included in the whole political process (Clay, 2014).
After increased revolutions on minority civil rights, the house of representative finally debated the report of minority rights, rejecting amendments that were aimed at weakening the bill and passed it. The bill finally went to the senate that expanded the bill to embrace federal powers in its implementation and passed it into law. On 2nd July 1964, President Lyndon Johnson together with Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders signed the bill officially making it a law. According to the Bill, any kind of discrimination including, sex, race, color, religion or county of origin was a serious crime liable to jail (Robert, 2013).
To sum up, civil rights movement of 1964 played a pivotal role in fighting for the rights of minorities in the US. Although there were several legislations to curb discrimination, most of the laws were not followed to the letter. Through various street protests and revolution, the civil rights act of 1964 was formed. Any kind of discrimination including, sex, race, color, religion or county of origin was rendered illegal. As such, the civil rights movement 1964 was a major success.
- Clay, R. (2014). The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press.
- Constitution Rights Foundation (2014). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Retrieved from: http://www.crf-usa.org/
- Civil Rights Movement (2012). Black History. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com
- Robert, D. (2013). The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Passage of the Law that Ended Racial Segregation. New York, NY: Sunny Press