The Civil Rights Act of 1964
September 2, 2012
How would Americans feel if there were not equal rights in the United States? Civil Rights are basic legal rights a person must possess. They are rights that constitute free and equal citizenship which includes personal, political, and economic rights. (Stanford 2012 Encyclopedia of Philosophy). According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all Americans are entitled to equal rights. There are many cases of how African Americans struggled for civil rights in this country. This paper will explore many of them. American history saw a dramatic change when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted. The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration keeps well documented records of the Civil rights movement. Civil Rights for black Americans have been an issue from the beginning of time.
All Americans have the right to vote under the Civil Rights Act. The fundamental right to vote is the most important right that we as American citizens possess. The Civil Rights Act barred unequal voter registration requirements. Voting rules and procedures had to be applied equally to all races. Before the Voting Rights Act was passed, some states used literacy tests and poll taxes to keep minorities from voting. These are some of the same tactics that are being implemented today to suppress the vote for minorities. The American Civil Liberties Union made this statement:
Modern day efforts to suppress voter turnout and registration has taken many forms including photo ID requirements; proof of citizenship requirement for registration; reducing the number of days for early voting; restrictions on third-party voter registration activities; limiting the opportunity to make an address change at the polls on election day; systematic purges of registered voters; challenges to student voters as non-
3 residents; unfounded allegations of voter fraud; and moving or closing precincts in minority communities. (2012. American Civil Liberties Union). The Voting Rights Act is the single most effective piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. Right after the Voting Rights Act was passed, black voter registration increased. Due to the efforts of private citizens and the Department of Justice, the right to vote that is guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments has been restored.
Every individual should have the same opportunity to have an equal education under this law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has helped many minorities over the years to receive an equal education at many schools. It encouraged desegregation of public schools and gave the U.S. Attorney General authority to file suits to enforce these acts. In April 1951, students at Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Va. went on strike. This was an all-black school built in 1939 where black teachers were paid a lot less than the white teachers in the county. The school also had no gymnasium or cafeteria. The principal at Moton tried to get the school board to build a new black high school, with no results. In 1951, the students of Moton led by 16 year-old Barbara Johns, went on strike and asked for the NAACP’s help. The NAACP lawyers told them that the only way they could get involved in the case would be for them to sue to end segregation. May 23, 1951, a NAACP lawyer took on the case for the 117 students and parents of Moton High. In 1952, a three judge District Court decided in favor of the school board and upheld segregation. After appealing, the case made it to the Supreme Court where it would be decided with three other segregation cases from South Carolina, Delaware, and Kansas in
Brown v. Board of Education. Prince Edward County resisted the Supreme Court’s decision and closed its public schools from 1959 to 1964 to avoid desegregation. Brown versus Board of Education also helped end segregation in public schools. Reaction to Brown v. Board of Education was mixed.