How did the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 help the movement for racial equality?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would argue that the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 were mostly symbolic.  They helped the movement for racial equality by encouraging civil rights advocates and by making the issue more visible to whites across the country.

Both of these acts were meant to help ensure that blacks would have the right to vote in the South.  They legally had that right, but it was being abridged in many ways.  Both bills tried to end this.  However, neither was particularly effective, which is why Congress had to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to finally protect African Americans' right to vote.

Although these two laws did not have a major effect on voting rights, they did encourage activists.  For the first time, the Congress was saying that blacks deserved better than they were getting.  Hearing this inspired more people to push for their rights.  The laws also made whites across the country more aware of the situation of blacks in the South.  This helped civil rights activists because one of their major goals was to raise awareness of their plight so that they could get more support from whites around the country.