|The Civil Rights Act of 1964, a long-awaited piece
of legislation, was finally passed on July 2, 1964.
This piece of legislation was first presented to America on June
11, 1963, by President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). As Martin
Luther King, Jr. had hoped, the efforts of the African Americans in
Birmingham, Alabama, had influenced Kennedy's decision to suggest
such a bill. Kennedy did not live to see the passing of this bill,
however. He was murdered in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
Kennedy's death was a shock to the entire nation, and it hit
African Americans hard as well.
After the assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been
Kennedy's Vice President, became the new President. Johnson
continued Kennedy's work, and the Civil Rights Act was passed by
Congress in 1964. A big step for African Americans, the Act made
Jim Crow laws and discriminatory actions illegal. The law also
helped other minorities and women as well.
Like Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson received the support of African
Americans. He won his own presidential term (it would be his only
full term) when he defeated Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in
the election of 1964.