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Civil Rights Movement

Topics: Pages: 4 (826 words) / Published: Dec 11th, 2013
Many Americans have struggled in their lives to be treated equally. These struggles were highlighted during the civil rights movement. There were significant factors that contributed to the growing momentum of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, which highlighted the significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required equal access to public places and outlawed discrimination in employment, was a major victory of the black freedom struggle, but the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was its crowning achievement. The 1965 Voting Rights Act suspended literacy and individual voting districts where such tests were being used. African Americans who had been barred from registering to vote finally had an alternative to the courts. If voting discrimination occurred, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 authorized the attorney general to send federal examiners to replace local registrars. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had an immediate impact. Within months of its passage on August 6, 1965, one quarter of a million new black voters had been registered to vote, one third by federal examiners. Within four years, voter registration in the South had more than doubled. Winning the right to vote changed the political landscape of the South. When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there were barely one hundred African Americans that held elective office in the United States. By 1989 there were more that seventy-two thousand African Americans that held elective office positions. The seeds of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were sown in John F. Kennedy’s presidency. As Kennedy was assassinated, and Lyndon Johnson became president he believed that he owed it to Kennedy’s life to push through this act especially since he was not an elected president. Lyndon Johnson realized that a major civil rights act was needed to advance African Americans within the United States society. Johnson used the shock of Kennedy’s murder to push forward the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he used the term the “Great Society” as part of his vision for America. The successful passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was partially credited to Congress. The mood of the public in general would not have allowed any obvious deliberate attempts to damage “Kennedy’s Bill”. Lyndon Johnson fought for the Civil Rights Act to be passed on behalf of Kennedy arguing to Congress by stating “how could anybody vote against an issue so dear to the late president’s heart”. President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act in July of that year. In August of 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed. A high point of the Civil Rights Movement, the law supplemented the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and further guaranteed black legal equality. The passing of both of these laws led many advocates to think seriously about tackling other pressuring issues such as social and economic inequality that badly divided Americans along racial lines. However the support for federal social programs did not prove as strong as everyone had hoped. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was a landmark in legislative attempts to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minority groups. Although civil rights had a long history as a political and legislative issue, the 1960’s marked a period of intense activity by the federal government to protect minority rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not resolve all problems of discrimination. It opened the door to further progress by lessening racial restrictions on the use of public facilities, providing more job opportunities, strengthening voting laws, and limiting federal funding of discriminatory aid programs. The civil rights movement did not achieve as much as dreamers had hoped for in the mid 1960’s. Many thought that the enormous gains of the civil rights movement stood to last a long time. Yet the full effects of these gains are still yet to be felt. “Equal rights” struggles now involve multiple races, as well as the issues of rights based upon gender and sexual orientation. Racism has lost its legal, political, and social standing, but the legacy of racism-poverty, ignorance, and disease-confronts us. “They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor, and these enemies too we shall overcome “ said President Johnson at the end of his voting rights speech. As there were significant factors that contributed to the growing momentum of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, they also highlighted the significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many people in the past fought for everyone’s freedom and equality today and we should be thankful every day for the changes that have taken place even though we still have a long way to go.

References:
Eskew, Glenn T. But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.Eskew, Glenn T. But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

References: Eskew, Glenn T. But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.Eskew, Glenn T. But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

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