What was the Civil Rights Act and what did it effect? Which president signed it into law?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, is legislation that ruled out any discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, or national origin. This act amended the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

In a sense, the Civil Rights Act was the fulfillment of the "promissory note" to which Dr. Martin Luther King alluded in his "I Have a Dream" speech in which he invoked the words of the American Constitution and the implications of the Fourteenth Amendment that had not been fulfilled for people of color.
After the signing of this bill, there were a number of changes effected in hiring minorities and women, along with admissions to college, among other things.

Section 703 of this bill made it unlawful for an employer to

...fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges or employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

One well-known and important part of this act, Title VII, created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in order to implement the law. An independent regulatory body, the EEOC deals with cases of discrimination. Also, the EEOC has been granted extended powers by Congress and can create programs, file lawsuits, and conduct assistance programs. Most importantly, this bureaucracy was granted the power to make rules to effect the end of discrimination for all that is in the Civil Rights Bill with the addition of age discrimination issues. 

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