What Was the Civil Rights Act of 1964?


Quick Answer

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a groundbreaking piece of legislation that forbade segregation in public places due to religion, race or national origin, reports History.com. It also banned employment discrimination and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce its provisions against segregation in the workplace. Additionally, the law mandated school desegregation and equality in voting requirements.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a culmination of civil rights protests in the early 1960s, explains History.com. President John F. Kennedy first proposed the legislation in 1963, and after his assassination, President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964. The bill prompted the longest filibuster in U.S. history in the Senate but eventually its supporters obtained the support to end the delay. During preliminary debate about the legislation, a senator added an amendment that also forbade gender discrimination in employment. The House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 290 to 130, and the Senate passed it with a vote of 73 to 27.

Later, legislators expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include the elderly, the disabled and women in collegiate athletics, according to History.com. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 enabled further progress toward legally eliminating segregation. Although segregationists used various illegal and legal means to continue discriminatory practices, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Americans a legal means to address civil rights abuses, notes Lisa Vox for About.com.

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