Civil Rights Act of 1964

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 resulted from one of the most controversial House and Senate debates in history. It was also the biggest piece of civil rights legislation ever passed. The bill actually evolved from previous civil rights bills in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The bill passed through both houses finally on July 2, 1964 and was signed into law at 6:55 P.M. EST by President Lyndon Johnson. The act was originally drawn up in 1962 under President Kennedy before his assassination. The bill originated from two others, and one of which was the Equal Opportunity Act of 1962 that never went into law. This bill made up the core of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Bureau of National Affairs 18-20).

There were many groups involved in the process of drawing up the bill and helping it to become a law. The main groups for the passage of the bill were the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, industrial unions of the AFL-CIO, many church groups, the White House, the Justice Department, and many northern Democrats and Republicans. The major groups that were opposed to the bill were the Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedoms funded greatly from Mississippi, and the Southern Democratic caucus (Bickel 17). These groups voiced their opinion and helped representatives decide how they should vote. The many groups involved crossed party lines to debate and vote for a bill to better America.

Any bill that becomes a law has to go through the House of Representatives and the Senate with a passing vote. The Civil Rights Bill easily passed the House with Northern Democrats and the Republican supporters turning out a vote of 290 to 130. Lyndon Johnson stated after the bill went through the house that it was, “...

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