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The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first law that was passed to protect the civil rights of African Americans since the Reconstruction Era that followed the end of the Civil War. After the Civil War, the North had instituted a military occupation of the South. During this time, numerous laws were passed to try to ensure that the newly freed slaves and other African Americans in the South would have civil rights. The last of these laws was passed in 1875.
In the time after that, however, these laws were weakened in a variety of ways. By the 1950s, African Americans in the South had long suffered from segregation and discrimination. Perhaps the most important form of this discrimination was the system of laws that prevented African Americans from voting. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was meant to restore and to protect the right of African Americans to vote. As it happened, the law was not very strong because it had to be watered down to avoid a major filibuster in the Senate. For this reason, the law had to be updated in 1965 by the Voting Rights Act of that year.
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