Historical Significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
In 1964, the United States passed one of its strongest civil rights laws in history, the Civil Rights Act. The act bans discrimination because of a person's color, race, national origin, religion, or sex. It primarily protects the rights of African Americans and other minorities. Major features of the Civil Rights Act include the freedom to vote and use hotels, restaurants, theaters, parks, and all other public places. The law also encouraged the desegregation of public schools and authorized the withdrawal of federal funds from programs practicing discrimination. Other major features included the prohibition of job discrimination and the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
The Civil Rights Act was an attempt to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minority groups. Until the law’s passage in 1964, African Americans had lived as second class citizens. Their money was the same as the white citizen, yet in some restaurants they were made to order and pay for food at the kitchen door. Historical momentum for civil rights legislation grew in the mid-1940s due to the extensive black migration to northern cities. During this time, Congress became active in the pursuit of civil rights. Shortly afterwards, the Supreme Court joined the movement, and in doing so, added to the historical pressure for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of the most important and influential Supreme Court decisions involving civil rights legislation was the 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which desegregated American public schools and paved the way for the civil rights movements.
Rosa Parks, who is considered to be “the first lady of civil rights”, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama resulting in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. Parks' action was...