Civil Rights Act

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The Civil Rights Act, whilst there have been many of that name, refers predominately to the 1964 legislation of the U.S. Federal government that finally saw the institutionalised racism of the United States become the crime it always was. The act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964.

Pre-death President John F. Kennedy had foreshadowed the act and stated he founded it on the notion of the Golden Rule, which probably explains the resistance of conservatives to the act and the wholesale changes it forced upon them in the way they treated others (one wonders why they needed an act of mere men to force them to obey God's rules, but apparently questions such as those are way too deep for the average conservative).

Whilst ostensibly for the removal of racial discrimination, a section was added during the passage of the Bill through Congress and the Senate to also outlaw sexual discrimination. Although some say that this section was added for cynical reasons — to increase the opposition to the whole bill — it remained, thankfully, in the final act that was passed by both houses and signed into law.

Of course passing a law and having it enforced are two different things, and change came slowly and often only at the end of legal cases that dragged on all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where the Act was defended and defined and given the support it deserved. Many of those cases are largely forgotten, but others enshrined basic principles into law and have had a large impact on the whole civil rights issue in the United States.

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