The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains the most significant legislative achievement of any human rights movement in the post-war era in America. At the time, the act drew unmatched public attention as both the human rights movement and the few black congressmen in both houses supported the passage of the law. James T. Rapier of Alabama and Robert Brown Elliot of South Carolina were among the congressmen who showed their support for the Civil Rights Act. The legislation outlawed discrimination based on several factors including race, sex, or religion. The bill does not only contain the provisions for the political rights of minority groups, but also prescribes desegregation and impartiality in dealing with minorities. In particular, black men benefitted from this bill because while they were afforded some political rights, discrimination against black men was a social phenomenon not easily remedied through simple political legislation.
Even though black men had the right to serve in Congress and to vote, a civil rights law was necessary to ensure constitutional rights for all minorities including African Americans. Furthermore, the bill was needed to protect against discrimination based on religion, color, and national origin. The right to vote and to be represented in Congress were merely political rights accorded to black men. However, those political rights did not reach far enough. There was still a need to root out discrimination against black people, especially in the realm of labor laws and the education sector (Filvaroff & Wolfinger 39).
The beneficiaries of the passage of this bill included any person who might have been discriminated against. As Robert Brown Elliot asserts, the passage of the Civil Rights Act was vital as it protected not only black people but also any other class of citizen who was underprivileged. This included women, and non-Christians living in America. According to the congressman, there is a clear distinction between social discrimination and political rights. The political rights entailed the rights to vote and have a representative in Congress. As James Rapier states, he was representing a large and wealthy constituency most probably dominated by voters of his descent. However, the people of his descent faced the most degradation of any man on the steamboat or in the car. This kind of degradation amounts to an unmatched level of racial discrimination on not only a political level, but also on a social one.
Therefore, the passage of the Civil Rights Act was not only beneficial to the black man but also to all classes of citizens who faced inequality. The law contained more than mere provisions of political rights. It also included the regulations that were going to aid the fight against racial discrimination in all sectors of public importance.
Filvaroff, David B., and Raymond E. Wolfinger. “The Origin and Enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” (1995).
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