Anti-Defamation League

Facebook

Twitter



ADL en español

Google+

LinkedIn

Pinterest

Follow ADL's boards

Click to pin: 

ADL on YouTube

Subscribe to ADL on YouTube.

Video on ADLTV

Watch at adl.org/ADLTV.

Read our Blog

Keep up-to-date with the Access ADL Blog and get new post by e-mail.

Tune in

Listen and subscribe to the ADL Podcasts on iTunes, or visit the website: podcast.adl.org.

Stay connected

Subscribe to ADL Newsletters.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. The Act prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities and made employment discrimination illegal based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.

As we commemorate this important 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we have an opportunity to teach and learn more about the history of discrimination and racism in the United States, the struggle for civil rights, the Civil Rights Act, and the strides we have made as well as the work that remains to be done.

Some of your students may not know that, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that school segregation was unconstitutional, in the 1960s, in many communities in the United States, African American and white people were still segregated in schools, public transportation and restaurants. Discrimination prevented many African Americans from receiving equal consideration for employment and education. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to legally prohibit and punish these injustices. And while many leaders at that time reminded the public that laws alone cannot shape “the hearts and minds” of people, the power of government through laws is critical to bring about change.

Download "7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary" (PDF) to help you teach about the Civil Rights Act in your classroom.

Background

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson fifty years ago on July 2, 1964. The Act banned discrimination in public facilities including private companies offering public services like lunch counters, hotels and theaters; provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities and made employment discrimination illegal based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that school segregation was unconstitutional, in the 1960s, in many communities in the United States, African American and white people were still segregated in schools, public transportation and restaurants. Discrimination prevented many African Americans from receiving equal consideration for employment and education. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to legally prohibit and punish these injustices. And while many leaders at that time reminded the public that laws alone cannot shape “the hearts and minds” of people, the power of government through laws is a critical step to bring about change.

The road to passing the Civil Rights Act was a bumpy one. For decades after Reconstruction, Congress did not pass a single civil rights act. With protests throughout the south including one in Birmingham where police tried to suppress nonviolent demonstrators with dogs and fire hoses, President John F. Kennedy decided to act. In June 1963, he proposed the most far reaching civil rights legislation to date, saying the U.S. “will not be fully free until all of its citizens are free.” Following Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. continued to press for the bill as did newly inaugurated President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The House approved the bill with bipartisan support but when it moved to the Senate, a seventy-five day filibuster ensued. Finally, the Senate voted 73–27 in favor of the bill and President Johnson signed the bill into law on July 2, 2985. Upon signing it, he said, “Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom. Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities. Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders. We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment.”

Teacher Plans and Resources

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: 7 Ways to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary (PDF)
A variety of teaching strategies and resources to help you commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with your students.

"Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights: Relevancy for Today" Curriculum Connections (PDF)
This curriculum for grades 3–12 provides grade-specific lessons, resources and extension activities to provide your students opportunities to examine civil rights in the United States past and present.

Brown v. Board of Education
This page provides information, lessons and resources relevant to Brown v. Board of Education for use in the classroom.

"Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Exploring the Promise of Brown v. Board of Education in Contemporary Times," Curriculum Connections
A Curriculum Connections special edition that provides factual history about school integration in the U.S. and aims to connect past to present, challenge students to reflect on their own beliefs about diversity, and inspire social action in local schools and communities. Through research, discussion, case study and role play, students are challenged to investigate whether segregation is a problem that we once lived with or still live with. (Grades 9-12)

"60 Years Later: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education," Current Events Classroom (PDF)
Students will learn more about the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and will study two infographics in order to analyze and reflect on the modern day “school-to-prison pipeline” and the opportunity gap that both exist in our public schools. (Grades 6-12)

Recommended Multicultural and Anti-Bias Books for Children: Racism
Intended for educators, parents and other caregivers of early childhood and elementary aged children, this listing of books, focusing on the topic of racism, promote respect for diversity, teach about bias and prejudice, encourage social action and reinforce themes addressed in education programs of A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, ADL's international anti-bias education and diversity training provider.

Bookmark and Share
Lyndon B. Johnson Signing Civil Rights Act
President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others look on.

Related

PLAN A TRAINING

 Please leave this field empty

Please enter your first name.

Please enter your last name.

Please enter your email address.Invalid format.

A value is required. Plase enter your zip/postal code.


A value is required.