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Lyndon Johnson signing the Bill
On this date in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted into law in America. The first of three such legislations was an attempt to deal with the increasing demands of African Americans for equal rights.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson asked for and received the most comprehensive Civil Rights Act up to that time. The act specifically prohibited discrimination in voting, education, and the use of public facilities. For the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on segregation in public schools in 1954, the federal government had a means of enforcing desegregation: Title VI of the act barred the use of federal funds for segregated programs and schools. In 1964, only two southern states (Tennessee and Texas) had more than 2% of their Black students enrolled in integrated schools. Because of Title VI, about 6% of the black students in the South were in integrated schools by the next year.
What the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did was to create an environment in which attitudes would be able to change. It is not unrealistic to believe that once the African-American was allowed access to public accommodations that the myths and misconceptions would dissipate in time. Thus, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has laid the groundwork for an environment in which equality can develop.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained 10 Titles. A brief description of each title is stated below.
Title I-Voting: required courts to give high priority to voting cases. It also provided for uniform voting tests and established a 6th grade education as proof of literacy.
Title II-Public Accommodations: prohibited discrimination in public accommodations.
Title III-Desegregation of Public Facilities: authorized the Attorney General to file suits to desegregate public facilities.
Title IV-Desegregation of Public Education: authorized the Commissioner of Education to provide technical and financial assistance to help deal with problems resulting from desegregation. The Attorney General could institute suits in the name of the government for students or parents who were unable to bring suit.
Title V-Civil Rights Commission: made the Commission on Civil Rights a permanent body.
Title VI-Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs: prohibited discrimination by any programs or activities receiving financial assistance, and authorized action by the appropriate departments.
Title VII-Equal Employment Opportunity: established the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity to eliminate unlawful employment practices.
Title VIII-Registration and Voting Statistics: directed the Secretary of Commerce to compile a list of registration and voting statistics in areas recommended by the Commission on Civil Rights.
Titles IX and X deal with procedures to follow appeals from federal court orders. It is ridiculous to think that the passage of the CRA of 1964 solved the problems of blacks. It is impossible to change attitudes which have existed in American society for over 200 years with one or even a series of civil rights legislations.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.