To End Divisions: Reflections on the Civil Rights Act of 1964


By focusing on a number of the CRA's key titles - without belittling the act's importance to Latinos, women, et al.- this commentary illustrates how the act moved beyond eliminating segregation; it addresses how the racial climate of the early 1960s shaped public policy. Broadly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to change the balance of racial (and genderbased) power in the America by using federal law to finally protect African Americans' right to live equal lives. After 1964, for the first time since Reconstruction, race was national policy agenda. This agenda and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are difficult to understand without considering just how deeply entrenched American racism was in the early 1960s. By examining the political and racial climates at the time of the Civil Rights Act, it is possible to better understand what policymakers hoped to address through the federal protections under the Civil Rights Act.

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Copyright © 2014 - 2015 . This article first appeared in Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest 18.4 (2014-2015): 499-514.

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