Friday, July 2, 2010

Today in History: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Forty-six years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, HeinOnline. In just 28 pages, the law addressed many areas of American life: Voting Rights (Title I), Public Accommodations (Title II), Public Facilities (Title III), Public Education (Title IV), Federally Assisted Programs (Title VI), and Employment (Title VII).

The next day, the front page of the Seattle Daily Times told of blacks being able to visit a number of businesses that had been whites-only the day before -- and some businesses that chose to close altogether rather than serve blacks.

Page two reported that President Johnson, asking for cooperation with the new law, found responses were "wonderful and very hopeful." But another story said that the Justice Department was preparing to meet expected opposition and was asking for 40-50 new lawyers for its Civil Rights Division.

The front page on the Fourth of July had a story about a segregation rally in Atlanta at which whites beat two blacks with metal folding chairs. Governor George Wallace of Alabama, running for President, said at the rally that the Civil Rights Act was "a fraud, a sham and a hoax," and said he would not aid in its enforcement in his state.

During most of the discussion of the legislation, the focus had been on race, but sex was added to the ban on employment discriminationk, and that created many changes in society as well.

By the way, did you know that the University Libraries just subscribed to a database with the images of Seattle Times pages back to 1900? Isn't it great?

To get to the historic Seattle Times (and some other early newspapers from the state):

  • Go to the Libraries list of Electronic Newspapers and News.
  • If you are off-campus, click on the off-campus access link in the upper-right corner of the screen and log in with your UW NetID.
  • Choose Early American Newspapers (don't be thrown off by the caption that says coverage ends in 1900!).
  • Choose the Places of Publication tab and then choose Washington.

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