1964 Civil Rights Act Quick Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is an overview of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Considered the most important national civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction (1865-1877), it prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. As a result of this law, US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed landmark civil rights bills, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Other facts

“Every year from 1945 to 1957, Congress considered and failed to pass a civil rights bill. Congress eventually passed limited civil rights laws in 1957 and 1960, but they offered only moderate gains. As a result of the 1957 Act, the United States Commission on Civil Rights was formed to investigate, report, and make recommendations to the President regarding civil rights matters. – National park service

The law had the longest obstruction in the history of the United States Senate, and after the long struggle for civil rights, the Senate passed Law 73-27 in July 1964. It became law less than a year later. assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

More Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats.


June 11, 1963 – US President John F. Kennedy called on Congress to pass civil rights legislation during his radio and television report to the American people on civil rights.

June 19, 1963 – Kennedy sends his complete civil rights bill to the US Congress for review. The bill, HR 7152, was introduced the next day.

June 26, 1963 – United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaks before the House Judicial Committee in support of HR 7152.

October 15, 1963 – Robert Kennedy is testifying for the second time before the House Judiciary Committee in an attempt to save the bill.

November 20, 1963 – One version of the bill moves from the House Judiciary Committee to the House Rules Committee.

November 22, 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates Kennedy. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president.

November 27, 1963 – Johnson speaks to a joint session of Congress: “No memorial speech or eulogy could more eloquently honor the memory of President Kennedy than the first possible passage of the civil rights bill he fought for so long . “

December 1963 – The House adjourned with the bill still in committee.

January 1964 – The House Rules Committee debates the bill.

February 10, 1964 – The bill goes through the House.

February 17, 1964 – The bill arrives in the Senate.

March 30, 1964 – June 10, 1964 – The Senate debates the bill for 60 working days, including seven Saturdays, with numerous attempts to filibuster the bill. The Senate Judicial Committee is not involved.

June 9-10, 1964 – US Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia obstructed the bill for 14 hours and 13 minutes before the Senate votes 71-29 to close the bill. A motion of closure forces an immediate vote. This two-thirds or more vote ends all debate.

June 19, 1964 – By 73 votes to 27, the Senate passed an amended bill, which was returned to the House.

June 21, 1964 – Three young men who volunteer for the “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign go missing in isolated Mississippi. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney were on their way that evening to a Congressional Racial Equality (CORE) office in Meridian, Mississippi. This leads to a national outcry, protests and an FBI investigation.

July 2, 1964 – The House of Representatives adopts the Senate version of Bill 289-126.

July 2, 1964 – Johnson signs the bill.

Aug 4, 1964 – The FBI finds the bodies of three missing civil rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had been shot and buried under a roadblock.

December 14, 1964 – The Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the law in the Interstate Commerce case Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States. The case, initiated by an Atlanta motel seeking to discriminate its customers on the basis of race, turns out to be a major test of civil rights law.

June 15, 2020 – The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees, after consolidated cases were brought on behalf of two gay men fired from their jobs, in as a skydiving instructor and coordinator of child protection services, and on behalf of a transgender woman who lost her position as a funeral home director.

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