This article is about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. For other American laws called Civil Rights Acts, see Civil Rights Act.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.
John F. Kennedy addresses the nation about civil rights on June 11, 1963
The bill was called for by U.S. PresidentJohn F. Kennedy in his Report to the American People on Civil Rights of June 11, 1963, in which he asked for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments"—as well as "greater protection for the right to vote". Kennedy delivered this speech in the aftermath of the Birmingham campaign and the growing number of demonstrations and protests throughout the southern United States. Kennedy was moved to action following the elevated racial tensions and wave of black riots in the spring 1963.
Emulating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Kennedy's civil rights bill included provisions to ban discrimination in public accommodations, and to enable the U.S. Attorney General to join in lawsuits against state governments which operated segregated school systems, among other provisions. However, it did not include a number of provisions deemed essential by civil rights leaders, including protection against police brutality, ending discrimination in private employment, or granting the Justice Department power to initiate desegregation or job discrimination lawsuits.