Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
This Month in the Movement: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
July 01, 2013

On 2 July 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The act was the realization of plans for a wide-reaching civil rights bill first announced by President John F. Kennedy on 11 June 1963. The bill, designed to eliminate segregation in public facilities, protect every citizen's right to vote, and expand on the gains made in earlier civil rights acts, encountered a mix of support and staunch opposition upon entering Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee received the bill first and, after a series of hearings, strengthened several aspects of it. Among its revisions, the committee added a provision granting authority for the Justice Department to initiate litigation in instances where it felt civil rights were being denied. Following its approval by the House Judiciary Committee the bill went to the House Rules Committee, where it encountered heavy opposition led by Representative Howard Smith.

Despite the objections of the Rules Committee the bill cleared the House and overcame a filibuster in the Senate, due in large part to constant pressure from President Johnson. In the company of several civil rights leaders, Johnson signed the bill into law a few hours after it received House approval.

To read more about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, visit the King Online Encyclopedia here. To view the document, click here.

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