July 2, 1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 goes into effect.

After the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November of 1963, President Johnson made this statement in his first address to Congress:

No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.

On July 2, 1964, he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The act did not abolish voter qualification procedures like literacy tests (this would have to wait until 1965), but it did ensure that such requirements were applied equally to people of all races. Furthermore, it outlawed the segregation of public goods, services, facilities, and accommodations - including hotels, restaurants, theaters, stadiums; it encouraged further desegregation of public schools; it also prohibited discrimination by employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. One opponent of the bill was Senator Barry Goldwater (“Mr. Conservative”), who, despite previously supporting other civil rights bills, questioned the constitutionality and practicality of this particular act; he famously said: “You can’t legislate morality.

After signing the bill, President Johnson remarked to an aide:

I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.

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    The Civil Rights Act - one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of our republic.
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