Political Maneuvering And The Civil Rights Act Of 1964

2938 words - 12 pages

Skepticism about government is, in many respects, part of the DNA of Americans. This skepticism is not without reason – the actions of American politicians in the 1960s and 70s caused much of America to wonder about the motives of elected officials. However, such skepticism is rarely brought up when discussing the government’s participation in denouncing oppression against the African-American community. Most assume the government enforced equal opportunity for minorities out of compassion and humanity. However, much like the other major actions of the government during that era, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a groundbreaking law condemning segregation, was not devoid of personal motives. The Black community was not oblivious to this fact, and voiced its outrage through different mediums. Within the literary community, James Baldwin stands out as an author who especially attacked the government, claiming all the benefits his community was now receiving was not the result of compassion, but rather was the result of politics as usual.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is considered groundbreaking legislation for a number of reasons. Prior to this bill, there was no legislation that made segregation, or discrimination against African-Americans illegal. Taking a closer look at the law will reveal the various facets through which the Civil Rights Act denounces segregation. While this legislation is composed of eleven titles, it is really the first seven which caused the most noticeable change in the American landscape. Title I of the act “[was] designed to close loopholes that the Southern States [had] discovered” (Summary of Provisions) in previous Civil Rights bills, primarily in the topic of voter’s rights. This title made it possible for African-Americans to vote without obstruction. Title II was also important, since it “reaffirms a ban in the 14th Amendment, but allows enforcement of the ban…through suits by the Attorney General” (Summary of Provisions). In other words, this title provides the federal government with the authority to prevent African-Americans from being denied service at any public facility. Title III expands the concept of Title II by stating that every public facility, maintained by the state or any subdivision therein, shall be free from segregation. Title IV was created to attack the inactions of the state in blocking the integration of schools. Through Title IV, the federal government has the authority to prosecute any state that does not participate in the integration initiative. Title V creates a permanent Civil Rights Committee. Title VI directs all federally assisted programs to bar segregation, and permits “cutting off of funds where discrimination persists” (Summary of Provisions). Title VII prevents all employers from segregating against African Americans. Thus, this bill is meant to protect African-Americans in all facets of life, from personal leisure, to...

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