The Effects of the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 on Today’s Society Most people will agree when talking about the 1960s is that the world changed over the course of that decade. During those years, tensions were high, attitudes were strong and definite, people were divided about what they believed was right and wrong. On subjects as diverse as the war in Vietnam, women’s rights, civil rights, the environment, music, and the way people wore their hair, everyone had an opinion.
Everyone who lived through the decade had their own experience. The events and consequences of the sixties still have the ability to provoke contentious debate. Many claim the change that came out of that decade had positive long term effects on the American society. For example, women’s rights and protection of the environment became popular causes during this time. Others point to destructive consequences of the decade, including the loosening of morality and excessive drug use as more emblematic of the sixties.
The election of John Kennedy as president caused many Americans to feel optimistic about their future. Then for some his assassination in 1963 was a sign of the violence that would consume America later in the decade. The construction of the Berlin Wall, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War eventually were proof of that. African Americans made many civil rights gains during this time also, but a number of African American youth called for “black power” rather than integration into white society.
College and high school students became increasingly empowered those years. Thousands of protest and demonstrations happened to invoke change. In the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, almost eight months of discussion in the House of Representatives had shaped and passed by February 10th, 1964, a bill in many respects wiser and stronger than the original bill sent to Congress by the White House. This Bill took the Federal Government further inside the private lives and customs of individual citizens than any Federal legislation in American History.
It first concerned itself with voting (guaranteeing that the African Americans could vote in every state) on the same qualifications as whites. This bill also prohibited discrimination against black people in public places, such as hotels, motels, restrooms gas stations, restaurants and places for amusement. Through this bill the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established on a Federal level. This was to ensure that unions or employers did not discriminate against African Americans because of their color. no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ; nor shall any deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”(www. usconstituton. net) This is a passage from the 14th Amendment; was this addition to the constitution truly meant to change the status of blacks in America? If so, why did it take so long for anything to change, more than a century?
Sadly after slavery, segregation became a way of life for blacks especially in the south. Southern blacks lived the hardest life. Segregation was everywhere. Blacks were not allowed to do many things. Education, housing and the basic way of life as they knew it was separated from white people. One year after my mother was born a young boy named Emmitt Till was killed because he whistled at white lady. This happened 35 miles from where she was living. Ku Klux Klan was known for lynching black people. It took any steps for African Americans to gain equality in the United States (Michael 2008).
Having parents that grew up in the south, they knew firsthand how racism affected the lives on many. My great great grandmother was a slave, and my grandparents were share croppers. My grandmother was still said yes ma’am to young white people when she 90 years old. The Civil Rights Movement was series of event that changed the way blacks and women were treated by society. This act along with the later added amendments made many people lives valid. During the sixties a person similar to me had literally no rights. Some people felt that blacks were not even citizens.
African Americans were not the only ones challenging the way America treated minorities. Young whites, particularly those in college rebelled. For these young adults the struggle was one against the hypocrisy, complacency, and the conformity of the middle class life. Women felt restricted as well. They were second class citizens, they had no voice, and the pay scale was unbalanced. White men were on top. They had dominion over their wives, their bodies, and their money. Women basically had no rights especially if they were married. In 1966 the National Organization for Women fought for egislative changes including the Equal Right Amendment to the constitution. Women had to fight against discrimination, equality when it came to hiring, pay, college admissions and financial aid. One other hurdle women had to overcome was the ability to have control over their reproductive rights. The rights African Americans achieved became the basis for a ‘rights revolution’ which extended rights to other disadvantaged groups: women, gays, lesbians, the disabled and immigrants (A. J Badger 2007). With all that being said, how did the Civil Rights Act change the lively hood of blacks and women in America?
The act ended segregation which integrated the schools, the law now was on our side. Equal protection for all people, anyone that want to go to college can go if they meet the educational requirements. If money is an issue financial aid is available for those that qualify. It also changed the way that ordinary blacks and whites treated each other in everyday life. African Americans now have opportunities that in the past were just not there. Yet there are still some hurdles that must be overcome African Americans and women have made many strides to get to where they are today.
Educational results for minority kids are much more an act of their disproportionate access to significant educational resources, together with skilled teachers and substantial programs, than they are a function of race. In fact, the U. S. educational system is one of the most unbalanced in the developed world, and students regularly receive significantly different learning chances centered on their social status. Education is the tool that should be used to end racism. Growing up I do not recall experiencing racism. It was not until I was older did I understand parts of the struggle.
I lived in good neighborhoods and the educational system was very good also. My grandparents were not so fortunate; neither of them graduated high school. Like many in my age group, I have been privileged in my years and have had an immense number of amazing opportunities. I am fortunate to have the ability to attend college, and choose what career path I want because of the stripes on my four fathers’ backs. I plan to take full advantage of every opportunity I am given. Even though some feel that the education is unequal, I have yet experience it.
What I do know is that if it had not been for those that were brave enough to insist on and demand change I would not be able to plan for a bright fruture. One thing I know for sure is that if the Civil Rights Act and it’s amendments had not been passed I there would not have been any hope for my future. The other foremost social movements of the second half of the twentieth century- feminism, the nation’s management of other minority categories, including the anti-war effort- were all associated to the will that was set free by the goal for African American equality.
The other actions may have happened in the absence of the civil rights effort but the struggle for black equality came first and helped to shape the way in which other groups of people came to believe of themselves and to raise their yearning for equal treatment. Several of the strategies that had been used by these other groups were formed in the civil rights movement. The varying functions of women had a intense effect on the impression of culture, the movements of labor, rights, and domestic reorganization.
These alterations set the background for many other labors yet to come. During course of these shifts, women accomplish, future aspirations were understand and the movement towards complete gender equality was made significantly more apparent. References A. J. , Badger (2007) Civil Rights: how did the civil rights movement change America? p 7-12 The Historian Summer 2007 www. usconstitution. net retrieved from Google on August 08, 2011 Farber, D (1994) The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960’s. Hill and Wang pg75