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Fri, 05.06.1960

The Civil Rights Act of 1960 is Signed

Front Page, AZ Republic

On this date in 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

This was the first American Civil Rights bill approved by Congress since Reconstruction. Though Eisenhower is not routinely linked to civil rights issues, his contribution, including the 1957 Act, was important as it pushed civil rights into the White House.  At the time, politicians from the South were angry over what they saw as federal interference in state affairs. This bill became an act where both parties were fighting for the "Black Vote."

The 1960 Civil Rights Act introduced penalties to be charged against anybody who obstructed someone’s attempt to register to vote or someone’s attempt to vote. A Civil Rights Commission was created. Yet the act barely touched on anything new.  At the end of his presidency, he was accused of passing the thorny problem of voter suppression and constitutional rights over to his successor. Though the act did little to impress civil rights leaders, they were ready to acknowledge that it was again federal government recognition that a constitutional problem existed.

The Eisenhower civil rights act added only an extra 3% of Black voters to the electoral roll for the 1960 election.

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