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*On this date in 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was signed. It was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The bill was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Supreme Court's 1954 ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought the issue of school desegregation to the fore of public attention, as Southern leaders began a campaign of "massive resistance" against desegregation. In the midst of this campaign, President Eisenhower proposed a civil rights bill designed to provide federal protection for African American voting rights; most African Americans in the Southern United States had been effectively disenfranchised by various state and local laws.
Though the civil rights bill passed Congress, opponents of the act were able to remove several provisions, limiting its immediate impact. During the debate over the law, Senator Strom Thurmond conducted the longest one-person filibuster in Senate history.
Despite having a limited impact on African American voter participation, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 established the United States Commission on Civil Rights and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Congress would later pass far more effective civil rights laws in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.